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Filtering by Category: Twitter

Get social media training for your health care employees.


If your medical practice doesn’t engage in social media, it might be because what I’m about to show you is your worst nightmare. Health care workers tend to use health care key words when they post inappropriate material, "I'm not sure if this violates HIPAA but" is a very popular intro to a HIPAA violation. This assures that the materials shows up in streams commonly followed by other health care professionals and advocacy groups. For example this Twitter post and subsequent discussion was visible in keyword streams for "HIPAA" and "Medicare."

HIPAAviolationornot followup blurred CRP

Have you given your staff any training in social media? Not just telling them about HIPAA confidentiality standards, but explaining to them what kind of public behavior standards you expect and demonstrating exactly how to meet those expectations. Do you have a written social media policy that benchmarks those standards for any necessary employee discipline? Despite the fact that Millennials are digital natives, most of them have received zero social media training in high school or college. [1] If you want to avoid a situation like this, you will schedule a social media training session for your staff.

The possible HIPAA violation (it took me less than five minutes to find a name for this patient) might be the least of your worries. One of these young men posts highly vulgar text and photos using race and gender terms that are generally considered highly offensive by the Silent & Baby Boomer generations being served. The most vulgar of the two may not even be an employee of the same practice, but does it matter when he's part of a conversation like this? Long before this post the social media risk was already clear. Don’t be the last to know if this is the kind of thing representing your practice online.

You need to train your employees. Talk to them about how they can align their social media use with their own life and career goals. Talk to them about how their associates reflect on them. Make your social media policy public- post it on your website. Your social media policy provides context for patients when they see social media posts from your staff. Do you consider their personal social media use to not represent your practice in any way? Make that clear to your employees and your patients. You also likely need to know more about the social media use of your employees than you do now, but you must have a written policy to assure you do not violate your employees' legally protect rights.

CRP provides social media training for health care and life science companies. We also provide training to individuals, including young adults, as part of the Profile Proud Alliance.

1. Holmes, R. (2014 APR 15). 5 social media skills millennials lack. HootSuite Blog.

You Don't HAVE to Use Social Media


Osos Lunch Box, Cary NCThis is Lazarus.  He has a new cafe in the South Hills Shopping Center.  The shopping center is a little tired but the DMV office, the Roses store and the other remaining stores have loyal customer bases survive and keep a steady foot traffic.  Still, the foot traffic is light enough that I meet my Mandarin tutor in the central hall for my weekly lessons. When Lazarus opened the cafe I told him that social media could help him analyze the traffic.  I showed him how you could see a lot about the different people checking in at the locations in the mall and in the immediately surrounding area.  He didn't think that information was useful to him.  This is why he might be right:

Before Lazarus opened the cafe, he operated a hot dog cart in the parking lot of the mall for three years.  Rain or shine, broiling or freezing, he was out there selling hot dogs to all comers.  By the time he opened the cafe, he already knew everyone that comes to the mall whether they bought a hot dog or not. He's that kind of guy.

You know those thick tortilla chips that are made from actual tortillas?  "Restaurant style" they call them.  Lazarus sells little bags of them along with containers of toppings.  He has a microwave and will give you a paper plate to spread out the chips and melt the real shredded cheese.  He asked me what kind of toppings I wanted and I said that I wanted the chemical-filled liquid cheese spread that comes in a jar.

The next week when I came in for my Mandarin lesson he informed me that he wasn't going to be carrying that.  He had asked all of his other customers and I was the only customer that wanted chemical-filled liquid cheese spread. He knows what everyone at the mall likes on their chips. "Besides," he said, "I care about your health."

Lazarus's business model is old-fashioned, but it is also very new-fashioned.  It isn't enough to do a demographic study any more.  If you don't know your customers by name, your competitor will stand in a parking lot for three years and get that information.  I can show you how to use social media to get a sampling of that kind of information and use relationship mapping to project how your social media using customers are influencing their friends.  I can also help you develop a social media presence where you get to know your customers better.

With all the time that saves you, stop by South Hills Shopping Center and get a plate of restaurant tortilla chips and meet Lazarus.  Tell him social media sent you.

Three Social Media Marketing Lessons from the Snowpocolypse



Wednesday, sitting in my car on Glenwood Avenue for a little over three hours, I had some time to glance at the #Raleigh #Snowpocolypse discussions on Twitter, especially when I started turning off the car to save gas.

Aside from a realtor selling beach front property offering very polite wishes for our well-being, no business were on Twitter offering any value related to the storm. (If you saw one that I missed in my fits and starts of driving, please let me know in the comments.)

I can think of quite a few businesses that should have been there.  Jeep dealer with a contest- post a picture of your Jeep in the snow. How about a sports medicine clinic- most treacherous sidewalk photo contest. Or a primary care announcing that their nurse line open for current clients. Or a masseur offering a discount for those of us that pushed a car, oof!

First social media marketing lesson of Snowpocalypse: If you don't show up to the conversation, you don't exist!


After three hours I gave up on getting home.  I was over it. The Hampton Inn at Crabtree Valley was full, but not overly so- some people who had planned to be there couldn't get in, balancing those of us who hadn't planned to stay there at all. It was Wednesday, the governor had locked down price gouging, the room was a bargain.  And yet look at the stacks and stacks (the picture captures less than half of them) of beautiful Hungry Howie's pizzas the hotel gave us!

Second social media marketing lesson of Snowpocalype: Give your customers something to talk about.


This is the real way to do social marketing: give your customers something to talk about. It doesn't matter if they tell their friends on their newfangled cell phone or if they use the newfangled social media.  How many people stuck in the storm called their partner left at home to tell them about their pizza?  I put the picture on my personal Facebook page.  If you were an independent pizza shop in Raleigh, what kind of promotional pricing would it have been worth assure your pizza a place in one of these hotels? The Hampton Inn already knew what the value was in offering it.

What happens if you don't give your customers something to talk about? 1-800-FLOWERS found out. Social media lets you put a human face in front of the customer, and they thought that meant signing their tweets with customer service representatives' names. That's not enough to balance out their ice-cold website. Their Facebook page has one lame picture of a couple of guys standing in the snow not getting anything done.

Third social media marketing lesson of Snowpocolypse: Be authentic about your human face.

Showing real people at work doesn't make anyone any happier to get half-dead flowers but it does put what they're up against into context: 1-800-FLOWERS has a ridiculous business model of shipping flowers via parcel and for the most part their people get it done even on level Impossible. We can hate the CEO and still be rooting for the employees, but even if we were inclined to do that we can't because 1-800-FLOWERS doesn't give us a glimpse of their lives. 1-800-FLOWERS thus is also proving the first rule again:

To be effective in social media marketing you have to show up!

You Can't Tweet Like the Mayo Clinic Can Tweet


Twitter feed from Mayo Clinic on #grapefruit.In 2013 the Mayo Clinic periodically posted a joke about the grapefruit diet.  On the days of the post, they owned "grapefruit" on Twitter.  If you looked for "grapefruit" what you got was the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has more than a half million followers on Twitter: they can capture any keyword they want. (Click the post list to get a full-size view.)

Your small private practice can not do that.  If you have a few hundred or a few thousand followers, you must select keywords more strategically.  When the Mayo Clinic captured "grapefruit" on a lark, they only owned it for about a day.  They are big enough to own a different hashtag every day.  You need to be influential on your target hashtags for longer than that.

If you are in health care, go to the Healthcare Hashtag Project and look up the key words for your topic.  Once you find the hashtags for your topic, see how many tweets a day the topic gets and how many times a day the most influential people tweet. You have to use the hashtag for your core competency in posts, but if it is a highly used hashtag look for another hashtag where you can have a larger influence.

If you aren't in healthcare and no one is keeping a website of hashtag metrics for your industry, just start looking up words that make sense.  Those words will connect you to established hashtags. Also look in, a tool that helps you find related hashtags.

Another technique is to create your own hashtag.  Interestingly, #grapefruitdiet wasn't used on Twitter at that time- if it had been, Mayo couldn't have stolen it from the existing audience without a backlash.  However, Mayo could have chosen to create the hashtag at that time and continued to cultivate it as a sales channel.

Remember that if a lot of companies are already targeting the most obvious hashtag, it might not give you the best results.  Include less crowded hashtags where you can have a larger impact on the conversation.


Originally posted by Mary K.D. D’Rozario on the CRP Blog.

Preparing for a conference? Don't forget to pack the social media.


Returned home a week ago from the SoCRA Annual Conference, and still digesting. The conference specializes in delivering training content companies can feel confident sending their staff to receive. One of the plenary speakers was Cancer Research Advocate Leslie Hammersmith speaking on the “The +1 Patient: Social Media and the Disease Experience.”  Patients are on social media, in particular Twitter, but clinical research professionals are not.  I'm here to discuss what these professionals are missing:

Health 2.0, and the Society for Clinical Data Management gathered on the same weekend. These conferences didn't touch attendees at SoCRA (less than five of whom were participating on Twitter).  SoCRA attendees did not touch the conversation in the next room. One attendee said to me, “I wish I could go to one session and know what is going on in another session!” If you attend a conference where participants are engaged and generous on Twitter, knowing what is going on in every room of the conference is exactly what happens.

The number one reason clinical research professionals tell me they are not on Twitter is that they are tired. It just so happens that during the SoCRA conference, an article appeared in the New York Times about the burdens of continuing education. We’re not just tired, we are exhausted.

Twitter is one of the best solutions to that exhaustion. Imagine developing a network that curates the information you need for you. When you take time off work to attend a conference, you attend four conferences at once.  Instead of listening passively to a speaker, you interpret and interact with your colleagues. This solution already exists, but the value for you and for others is only there if you are there.

To facilitate expanding the reach of clinical research professionals on Twitter, I have prepared slidecasts on increasing your engagement with Twitter.  Become a Twitter lurker by listening to presentation #1.