Being social – A summary of the NHS Social Media Conference 2016

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 36 (1)

Louisa Fulbrook,
Deputy Library Services Manager,
Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The following is a summary and link to presentations from the NHS Social Media Conference which took place in Leeds on 16th May 2016.  It outlines the various presentations which took place and highlights some useful points which can be employed in our use of social media in the workplace in libraries and healthcare settings. From tips for day to day tweeting to using social media for recruitment, managing social media for events to running large campaigns all was discussed!

I was fortunate to attend the NHS Social Media Conference held in Leeds in May as I manage my library’s social media accounts (currently Twitter and a closed Facebook Group).  It was a very interesting and informative event and as I was possibly the only librarian amongst lots of Comms staff I thought I would share what for me were the highlights and key learning points of the day.

The day opened with three Pecha Kucha presentations on the theme Me, Myself and social media which were about the online journeys of the individuals involved.  Firstly Anya de Longh, Patient leader & self-management coach from the King’s Fund. As both a health professional and someone with a long term illness, Anya discussed the emotional support offered by social networks; you can be seen as a whole person and not just a diagnosis. This was yet another angle on the benefits of social media and one that I hadn’t considered before – I am usually promoting it to staff rather than perhaps thinking how they in turn can perhaps promote its benefits to patients. Anya pointed us in the direction of Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory to gain a better understanding of the predicament of those with long term illness or disability. See .

Jess Barlow, Digital communications & engagement manger with NHS England shared her social media journey from MSN Messenger to What’s App and everything in between which highlighted how far things have come in such a short space of time.  We can’t leap on board with everything but have to consider where our audience is and choose which applications to engage with whilst recognising some will come and go.

James Norris, Founder of the Digital Legacy Association and gave the third opening presentation as well as hosting a session later in the day.  He introduced delegates to the concept of what will happen to your digital assets after you die. As its popularity grows this is becoming a real issue.  Especially I suspect if you are more of a creative type than I and store photographs, music or writings etc.  James explained there are different rules for different software – you can set up a Facebook legacy contact and a Google inactive account manager when planning your death for example. The making of a Digital Will could be something nursing staff may want to discuss with patients. Even the fact that 35% of people have a password on their phone that no-one else knows may mean that family members do not have access to your contacts in the event of your death.  The  is for healthcare professional supporting end of life care and offers free resources for hospices and hospitals relating to these issues along with CPD accredited training    .

In the afternoon Tim Lloyd director at Helpful Technology was the Keynote speaker and made the case for permissive social media use. He stated it is no longer acceptable to distrust staff – we need to empower them to use social media, there are boundaries for staff but that is all these are, they should not be used as excuses not to empower staff.  Without social media organisations are missing out on good customer service opportunities, for example on a chance to share a compliment or answer a complaint. If you need to make the case in your organisation you can use NHS employers and the Tinder foundation for case studies about how people have used social media with regards to health.  Professions such as doctors and nurses each have their own guidelines for conduct on social media.

 In a Q and A session it was highlighted that around 4 million people currently employed in the UK don’t have basic digital skills.  I did my bit for library advocacy and mentioned that in some Trusts such as my own libraries offer training and bite sized sessions on topics such as Twitter and other social media applications.

There was also a presentation from a recruitment perspective by Hannah Pont, Deputy Recruitment Manager at Cambridge University Hospital   and some legal advice from Rachel Heenan of Capsticks law firm. You know that phrase people use as a disclaimer on Twitter, “all comments are my own views and not that of my organisation” etc.  – it has no legal standing!  Med Rowley and John Latham discussed highly successful social media campaigns they had run and how they went about them and what they had learned – their PowerPoints are well worth a look (see link below). You may have heard of John Latham’s “Missing Type” campaign to promote blood donation which went global.

By far the most practical information of the day for me came from  Gregor Jones presentation on using social media at events which incorporated the before, during and after.  Key tips included using an image of a poster to fit more words in a tweet thereby still having characters left to write, saving tweets as drafts before an award ceremony or event that you can then tweet at the appropriate moment on the day and using scheduling software such as Hootsuite as long as you remember that if a speaker cancels you must cancel any prescheduled tweets referring to them!

Other practical tips from the day that have stuck in my mind are using images alongside text on Twitter means people are more likely to stop and read your tweet when scrolling, post good news stories, things done well  rather than just broadcasting information. Be both personable and informative make sure you are adding value – picture who you are communicating with.

The above is merely a summary to whet your appetite. The main presentations from the day are much more detailed and are well worth looking at and can be found here: I came away with lots of ideas and hope to put some of them into practice soon!

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