4 Reasons Your Healthcare Brand Needs a Social Media Policy

By Andi Barton Today 31% of healthcare organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing. Regulating and controlling the conversation on social media is an ever-growing responsibility as a brand. The potential for employees to publicly generate stories and conversation about your brand is far more likely, and you have a choice: to either be proactive or reactive. It is your corporate duty to legally set standards on social media.

Social media has led to an increased expectation of transparency in any industry. And for brands in the healthcare industry, it requires treading extremely lightly since the nature of your content is, in general, far more sensitive. Diving head-first into the social space as a health care brand is daunting. It is equally as daunting to consider the extent to which your employees have the ability to share.

Here are four reasons it is essential for your healthcare brand to build an internal social media policy:

1. Enforce Existing Policies: Utilize your social media policy to enforce your previously existing policies. Likely, all are able to cross-integrate. Violations across legal concerns such as privacy, confidentiality, and internet usage at work can all tie directly back to social media usage. Your social media policy can and should be enforced as a separate document, however it should also be aligned with all existing regulations.

2. Educate and Engage Your Employees: As Likeable Media Talent Director Brian Murray stated:  "Society is shifting in its understanding of how to be professional on social media." It should no longer be frowned upon for your employees to engage with you as a brand. It should be encouraged to join in the conversation, engage on your social networks, and grow social brand advocates. Social media policies do not have to strictly limit; they can also lay out ways in which employees can and should get involved as well! And if your employees are not as knowledgeable in networking, you can leverage your social media policy to educate your employees about your current social media strategy and vision.

3. Regulate Shared Content: Establishing a specific social media policy allows you to regulate the content that is shared. By establishing strict guidelines for anything that is shared regarding the brand, you are able to reprimand for malpractice and ensure that employees understand the consequences associated. Your brand’s credibility, reputation, and image can be drastically harmed by any misleading content shared. Guidelines can also help protect your brand in the future for content that could be stolen and shared later on. Confidentiality should be top of mind for all content regulations set in your social media policy. Not only should you regulate shared content from a brand perspective, you have a responsibility to protect patients and their confidentiality.

4. Consumers Expect Online Thought Leadership: There is a fine line to walk when it comes to building your social media strategy as a healthcare brand. One thing is guaranteed: Consumers today go to social media to gain information, and they expect your thought leadership. 60% of social media users are more likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group. Your social media policy should outline requirements for users to specify their affiliation with your brand. In order to facilitate social media users associating your brand as a thought leader, it is important that there is consistency and uniformity. Social media policies can even tier expectations based on position within the company, for example: setting standards for verified doctors’ social media content.

The content and extent of social media policies vary across industry. As a healthcare brand, it is your responsibility to protect the sensitive nature of your company. These four points are just a handful of the many reasons why your brand needs to regulate via social media policies.

What companies have you seen successfully implement social media policies in the healthcare industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below!