Managing Employee Engagement on Social Media

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Four ways to use social media to improve performance and job satisfaction

By Cooper Cadman

There are two different aspects of social media management in the workplace that I will focus on. The first is how to manage your staff being on personal social media while they are at work or off work hours. The second, and maybe more unique, is how to engage your staff with the use of social media.

A physical therapy practice is a unique business today since most of our day is not spent in a virtual work environment. We are with our patients in person and deliver care that requires our hands-on attention. There is little time to be distracted by social media for personal use during the workday. More commonly, many of us need to address our adjunctive staff and administrative staff for using their cell phone or computer to update their status or scroll through social medial sites during work hours. Accessibility and lack of monitoring while they are in an office or sitting unattended at the front desk can make the enforcement of your policy difficult. The need to be constantly connected and the ever-present FOMO (fear of missing out) can take on an addictive tendency. To help prevent the temptation of “checking in,” your company may be served well to have a no cell phone policy during work hours while still allowing use of their cell phone during breaks and lunch. During orientation, after the employee is hired, make this policy known and help each employee understand the reasoning behind it. Have your employees use the office number as their emergency contact number during work hours to ensure that they can be contacted during the workday or have a provision in your policy for them to be able to keep it on them during special circumstances, such as if they have a sick child or if they are expecting a phone call that they may need to be able to answer immediately.

The flip side of social media management is to engage your staff with social media. The trend in physical therapy and so many other businesses is to have a presence on social media to attract new customers or patients. There are many tools that allow you to create content on one platform and push it to the other social media outlets easily. Your goal for using social media should be to help provide information for your patients but to also use it as a community-building opportunity with your staff. You can highlight your staff and give public praise for their accomplishments and performance. You can also use internal social media, (i.e., private pages and internal newsletters) to send out employee surveys and quizzes, run contests, and provide content that your employees can share on their social channels. Utilizing internal social channels can provide your employees with a greater sense of belonging in the company while making work more fun and engaging for them on a personal level. Getting employees involved in new program launches or in the promotion of an event that your clinic may be hosting can help get a bigger reach into the community. Allowing your staff to show off their creativity within the spectrum of social media can again boost morale in the workplace while simultaneously exhibiting the personality of your business which can be utilized for both customer engagement and talent acquisition. With so many social media accounts to manage and so many posts to create on a weekly basis, you will need a platform that will handle all your pages from one place. Some examples of this are Hootsuite, Zoho, and BirdEye. It is also important to have regularly scheduled posts in advance to ensure consistent release and improve the likelihood that you will gain patients from your social media efforts. Finally, have your staff wear company shirts with the logo and business name recognizable when they are creating content for your patients is recommended. This use of social media can be a great tool to assist in getting more engagement from your staff and your patients as well as help to reach more people that you would otherwise not be able to reach through more traditional advertising.

How can we merge these two aspects of social media in the workplace to make it even more effective and productive? Follow these four tips to get started today.

1. Establish an Employee Protocol for Your Online Branding

Branding within your company is all about consistency. Wear your company apparel when creating content so that viewers can see your colors and logo to associate that with the content that your team puts out. Another important item to utilize is hashtags that are consistent with the posts as well as ones that are related to your company. This is important for increasing engagement. Some examples of appropriate hashtags would be to use the name of the business, the name of the industry or field, or the product name used in the post. Visual content is the trend to follow. Pictures and videos have been proven to get more attention and engagement than graphics created on a photoshop application.

2. Keep Employees Up to Date

Have employees create social media profiles on the platforms that your company uses. Some examples are LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and for the younger generation, TikTok. Encourage your staff to follow your company on all social media platforms. Share good news and events that are happening in the clinic with your friends and/or followers. This can be a better alternative to having to send mass emails or conducting larger company-wide meetings to get information across for everything that happens in your business. Have your staff tag your company and use hashtags where appropriate. You can possibly even develop hashtags that you have collaborated with your staff to use.

3. Get Your Employees Motivated with Social Media

Reward employees who are responsible for an increase in certain engagement metrics that would be appropriate for your setting and your staff. Use social media to celebrate milestones and highlight their accomplishments. Public recognition is a great way improve staff morale and retention. When hiring new staff, use social media outlets to help get the word out about them, fill schedules, and highlight their areas of expertise. Use of social media by your staff can allow them to feel like they are contributing to the success of the business. Ideally, your employees should have a positive impact on your company’s search engine optimization (SEO) through content and marketing.

4. Teach Mindfulness Online

As mentioned before, include social media training as part of the onboarding process for new employees. Educate them on the rules and policies of social media usage during work. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about the right way to express their opinions on their online profiles. While it is important for people to have freedom of speech to voice their opinions, sometimes those opinions aren’t in line with your business’ stance. There needs to be an awareness among employees to separate their personal views when posting about work related topics and/or posts with the business’ logo or uniform in the frame. As a business, it is important to stay relatively neutral on the many polarizing topics in the world. This allows for your company to keep from being “cancelled” or essentially boycotted by current or potential patients and customers. As an extension of your company, your employees need to understand that with involvement in your company’s social media they need to steer clear of those polarizing topics in the things they say online. In cases where they feel the need to express their beliefs on their personal accounts, it’s essential to have a policy in place where they should be disclaiming that their opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company.

A Conversation Between You and Staff

Allow social media to be a conversation. This conversation is all-encompassing, it is between you and your staff, your business and your customers, as well as the interpersonal relationship between your staff and their patients. The best way for your employees to become involved is to allow them to come up with ideas that are utilized within the company and get posted. Not all ideas will be award-winning to begin with, but the collaboration between yourself and them to turn that idea into something greater that eventually leads to success for the company will leave your staff feeling accomplished and included as part of the business. This collaborative process then trickles down from your staff to the patient when your patients then engage in the social media that you post. As they comment and share your content the conversation continues at which point it’s important to remember the branding and online training that your employees have received to best respond to their engagement. Maintaining a positive relationship with customers through social media is all about actively listening to what they’re saying and responding in a timely and effective manner. Open communication within all channels between management, staff, and patients is the key to the productive use of social media in the workplace.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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