Social media in an NHS Trust –10 priorities for 2013

Social media in an NHS Trust –10 priorities for 2013

We’ve spent a lot of energy in our NHS Trust this year getting to grips with social media. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve had a few hair-raising moments along the way. Below are 10 key learning points from 2012 along with 10 key priorities for 2013:

Finding our voice – in our communications team we’ve gone beyond the basics and found our voice on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve reduced the amount we broadcast and got better at sharing useful information and engaging in conversation. In 2013 we’ll continue this trend and I’m keen that we extend this tone to more aspects of our communications, becoming more sociable in every aspect of what we do.

Measuring our sociability – we’ve gone beyond using Klout and are experimenting with a variety of free and simple metric tools which are out there such as, and Then there are open source network analysis tools out there such as nodexl which take a bit more work to use.  We will develop our use of more sophisticated tools in 2013 so we can clearly articulate the benefits of social media to any sceptics (even though we intuitively know the value ourselves of course!)

Automated tweets – we’ve pretty much ditched automated tweets as it became clear that people found them annoying. In 2013 we’ll continue on this path.

#Hashtags – we tweet from a wide range of events and activities using various hashtags and get some interaction but not as much as I’d like. We put out calls for interaction a few days before live tweeting from our Board of Directors meetings for example and do get some questions that we put to the public section of the meeting. In 2013 I’d like to see this grow and develop and get much more connection – making it engaging and interesting will be the key.

Crisis calls – our initial apprehensiveness that people may use Twitter or Facebook to contact us for help in crisis were completely unfounded. We’ve not had one single contact of this nature. However, we do always finish our tweeting day with the following message ‘ if you need any advice or support please see our website here and we’ll be back tweeting tomorrow’ so that if anyone checks out account, that is the most recent tweet they will see. We’ll continue this in 2013.

Diffusion – the most significant development I have seen over the previous year is the beginning of clinical services setting up their own social media accounts. This presents an intriguing conundrum about centralised versus local and I’m confident we’ll work it out as this trend continues to develop.  In 2013 I want our communications team to act in a more support and advisory capacity than be the owners of social media. I’m particularly interested in accounts which are co-produced by people who are either working in or using services. I hope our plans for involving people with a learning disability in social media will come to fruition early in the New Year.

Clinical voice – the other development I’ve seen in 2012 is more professionals in our NHS Trust becoming interested in the potential of social media for professional development, networking and shared learning. There is a groundswell of individuals who are treading this path and others keen to get involved. I’m sure this trend will continue in 2013 and I hope it will begin to gain status as a core part of professional development rather than perceived as a hobby for a few. However, many people are nervous and they’ll need information, support and encouragement. We’ll offer this in the form on regular social media surgeries.

Clinical practice – the use of secure social networks for peer support and clinical care is gaining traction, and we like many other NHS Trusts, are exploring the options. I hope in 2013 we’ll test this out in a few of our clinical services and see real benefits in the experience of people using our services. I also hope more of our staff will be supporting people to manage their online and well as offline lives safely – making the most of the opportunities it affords and helping people be aware of any risks or challenges they may face. I have been struck by the amount of times seasoned clinicians have said they have no idea about social media at all and it wouldn’t even occur to talk to people they support about it at all.

People-led social networking – I’m really proud to be part of a group supporting the development of the Leeds Wellbeing Web and I also watch with interest people like Sue Sibbald who runs a weekly Twitter chat for people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder #BPDchat.  I hope in 2013 we see more local initiatives led by people taking control and supporting each other.

Involving people – we’ve begun to use social media to involve people who use our services, and other stakeholders, in influencing the shape of our services. But this has been mostly promoting online surveys or involvement events. In 2013 I would like us to begin using social media a bit more imaginatively to actually so we can have some of the debates in public and online.

So those are the sorts of things we’ll be focusing on. How about you?

Thank you to @digitalastair for his input into this post 🙂

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  1. Great post. Might be worth doing some more work with partners about how as a network social media is used to provide services, engage service users, get feedback, encourage peer support and I suppose many other things. Have often pondered the benefits of agreeing a local/sector set of hashtags for example….

    • Hi Mike. Thank you for your comments. Yes I think one of the next steps is to take a more strategic approach with partners. At the moment, the local orgs in Leeds using social media support each other by re-tweeting for example and promoting each other’s hashtags. A few us, representing each of the NHS, local authority and voluntary sector met informally towards the end of last year to have a think about how we can work more collaboratively. When we next meet up I’ll pose your thoughts to them 🙂

  2. Fantastic reflections and a great list of things to think about for healthcare social media in 2013 (and you know how I like lists!)

  3. Brilliant blog post – particularly liked ditching the automated tweets. A human and individualised approach is the best way to go .. after all it is “social” media so we should be social 🙂

  4. Great post Victoria. Social media offers such potential to support service delivery in healthcare not just from an engagement perspective but also financially. From a strategic perspective we need to be mindful that today’s digitally savvy generations will be getting older and will expect to enagage with health services through the channels they are comfortable with. It requires a culture change internally though especially when it comes to devolving responsibility to the front line. This is difficult to accept from a Comms perspective as we are designed to want to control what goes out but social media makes the old ways impossible. Through training, support and guidance staff can be key advocates. I’m really pleased to see the work you are doing in Leeds. I’ve been developing a social
    Media programme for DsPH’s over in the NW and is a real challenge that is beginning to bear fruit so keep it up!

  5. Interesting post – found the Crisis Call piece a really good idea.


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