By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
In the last issue, I wrote about the importance of embracing social media. Regardless how you feel about it, social media is an increasingly important business enabler that should be part of your overall business strategy – whether for profit or nonprofit organizations and regardless of size.
In general, social media is a means to connect with people and their organizations. This allows social media to become a tool to provide service to existing patients and customers, reach new business, connect with vendors, interact with staff, and find new employees.
Calling social media a tool is an important distinction. Like any tool, it can provide great benefit or be a huge waste of time, distracting from other work that is more important.
In order to prevent this time sink from occurring, it may be tempting to summarily dismiss social media – and some business leaders and managers have done just that. But doing so removes the opportunity to connect with patients, customers, prospects, employees, and job candidates in the medium of their choice.
After all, if you want to fish, you need to go where the fish are.
Of the major social media considerations – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogging – the easiest to set up and use is Twitter. Essentially, Twitter is a short messaging service that allows you to send public messages to those following you or private messages (as private as anything can be online) to specific individuals.
However, these messages must be 140 characters or less. Some people describe Twitter as a microblog. Links can be included in messages, and Twitter will even shorten them to provide users with additional message space.
Setting up a basic Twitter account only takes a few minutes. Even if you decide to customize the appearance of your Twitter page or upload a graphic, it will still take less than thirty minutes.
If you’re part of a big organization, your marketing department likely already handles its own Twitter account, or there may be too many hoops to jump through to obtain permission to start one. An alternate idea is to set up a Twitter account for your call center or department.
Here are a couple of pointers:
- Unless you want to make it hard for people to find you, your username should be your name (for personal accounts) or your organization’s name (for business accounts). You may have to abbreviate, though, as you are limited to fifteen characters.
- Use the bio section to tell others who you are and why they should follow you. Be succinct, interesting, and compelling.
- If you upload a graphic, make sure the artwork is professional. Use a photo of yourself (for personal accounts) or a graphic that represents your organization (for business use). Anything else will merely keep people from following you.
Once your account is set up, be brave and send your first tweet. Unless you’re famous, people won’t care about what you ate for dinner or that it’s raining outside; keep things informative or entertaining.
Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.