By James Heil, Senior Vice President of Recruiting, Delta Locum Tenens
Blogs, tweets, and status updates are not new to anyone who’s had access to the Internet over the last 10 years. In fact, as Facebook, Inc. celebrated its 10th anniversary this February, the social networking channel hit over 2 billion users, giving voice to all age brackets, socioeconomic status, and knowledge base while eliminating geographical barriers across the globe. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, even a large majority of businesses have recognized the legitimacy and importance of social media marketing as 86 percent of surveyed businesses place a high value on social media in their marketing plan.
While the concept of social media marketing has been widely accepted, many professionals struggle with understanding and identifying what content will add value to their social media efforts. The same report above states that two thirds of businesses that market via social media channels also question the effectiveness of their efforts—particularly on Facebook. Additionally, an overwhelming 89 percent of marketers state that increased exposure is the top priority of social media marketing. The challenge is identifying what to expose and who will champion the communication of this information.
As we move further into this digital marketing age, more and more evidence has emerged indicating that customers value employee testimony and peer feedback over advertisements. An online presentation by Liz Bullock, CEO of Social Arts & Science Institute, reports that customers consider an every day employee to be twice as trustworthy as a company’s executives, and 90 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of someone they know versus a scarce 14 percent who trust advertisements. Looking at Facebook’s user outreach alone, customers and everyday employees voicing their opinion online now have 2 billion listeners accessible by a few keystrokes.
If increased exposure is the ultimate goal of social marketing and your employees have the loudest voice online, how does this translate to marketing for health care facilities—particularly as it relates to recruitment and retention?
For the sake of cohesion, let’s swap the word “company” for “hiring facility” and the word “customer” for “sought-after talent,” and take another look at the statistics above. The things your staff members are communicating online about your facility’s culture and values hold double the importance of your direct advertisement efforts. Employee testimony is playing a huge role in influencing how potential talent evaluates your culture.
Just like any customer researching the authenticity of a product online through feedback from other consumers, potential talent will research the ethics and character of a hiring facility from other providers on staff. Therefore, the greatest opportunity to influence your social media health is in clearly marketing your company brand—i.e., identifying and communicating your facility’s values, mission, and internal culture in whatever way you want to be viewed by potential talent. In other words, how do your social media marketing efforts share the “soul” of your organization?
While you may not have direct control over the opinion (AKA voice) of each member of your staff, you can control the strength of your organization’s brand identification and the values your brand supports. All of this can be shared via your organization’s social media channels through creative campaigns and transparent, authentic content. Often, the values and culture exhibited on an every day organizational level are reflected in the feedback and voice of staff members, and paralleled through virtual platforms.
While there are thousands of resources available to facility representatives and marketers looking to increase their social media strategy, it is important not to become overwhelmed in planning your own marketing strategy. Consider the following golden rules as you approach your strategy, remembering to utilize social media as a channel in recruitment and retention marketing:
1. Always present clear, authentic and ethical information.
By communicating closely with your employees on a social media level, you become a trusted source of information, which is a great asset when creating company awareness and brand credibility. It is important to remain aligned with your organization’s values in all correspondence, as conflicting social media interactions (particularly from staff members and other testimonials) will result in confusion or distrust under the scrutiny of mass communication.
2. Focus more on showcasing your brand, less on controlling the interpretation of the reader.
The goal of recruitment is in finding a provider who will thrive in your organization’s culture and environment. Instead of catering a message that will seem attractive or appealing to a potential hire, own the unique qualities of your organization that set you apart and share them for all to see. When providers know how they will fit into your organization, they will be much more inclined to hear and consider offers of employment.
3. Expand your reach.
For many organizations and businesses throughout the country, Facebook seems to be the “gateway” platform to social media marketing—and for good reason. Social Media Examiner’s report states Facebook is ranked by 49 percent of marketers as the top platform for social media. LinkedIn (the next highest ranked platform), Twitter, YouTube, and blogging are also excellent resources to communicate your cultural brand, as each provide opportunity for direct communication and feedback.
4. Don’t overestimate time requirements and cost.
Many facilities not already on the social media train may find the task daunting or overwhelming to start. Social Media Examiner’s report found that by spending as little as 6 hours per week on social media marketing, companies saw a 64 percent increase in lead generation benefits. Additionally, social media has steadily taken over traditional print marketing and advertising and provides a great boost to public relation efforts without a huge time or monetary commitment.
5. Keep it simple to promote the most interaction.
When it comes to developing your social media messaging, brief is best. Twitter gives you 140 characters to craft your point—never say in a paragraph what can be said in a statement; never state in a post what can be included in a comment. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video (YouTube) is worth 100,000. Remember to ask questions, tag employees, and open your channels to all forms of interaction in order to best spread your reach.