Hospital Social Media Careers

Social Media Opportunities Increasing in Healthcare Field

Screenshot of Swedish Health System's Twitter Account
Screenshot of Swedish Health System Twitter Account. Health Careers

Over the past few years, as social media has grown its presence into all aspects of popular culture, healthcare professionals and organizations have increasingly utilized social media to communicate with prospects and patients. As social media became more mainstream, opportunities grew for social media careers grew within hospitals and medical facilities. Hospitals have recently realized the benefits of utilizing social media to market their services to patients as well as sharing health information and news.

Hospital social media managers are an emerging career that will most certainly continue to grow in demand throughout the coming years. One of the hospital systems leading the charge for utilization of social media is Mayo Clinic, which established a Social Media Center and was the first hospital to do so.

General Responsibilities of Hospital Social Media Specialists

Social media professionals at hospitals help to promote the healthcare system's brand and services to patients via numerous social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs. Much of the social media efforts may be managed by associates in the marketing department until a separate, dedicated social media professional can be hired or contracted. Some hospitals may prefer to hire social media professionals on a contract basis as opposed to employing someone full-time.

In addition to managing the systemic social media presence, the social media manager may also be responsible for educating and training physicians how to integrate and incorporate social media into their practices, to promote their services, and share health information and updates with the community.

Experience and Skills Needed for Hospital Social Media Careers

Dana Lewis is leading the way for this emerging career, as the Interactive Marketing Specialist for Swedish hospital system in Seattle, Washington. She is one of the first full-time social media managers hired for a hospital, and therefore, her employer is also one of the leaders in the hospital social media movement.

Lewis has a degree in Public Relations and feels that a similar background in PR or marketing is a good foundation for social media managers, plus some knowledge of the healthcare industry. Additionally, strong computer skills are a must, and some HTML coding knowledge is also very helpful.

Hospital social media specialists must have strong communication skills, oral and written, at all levels, "from food services to C-suite" and everything in between, Lewis adds. Presentation skills, training, and speaking are also needed for keeping staff up to date on social media policies, especially as it relates to HIPAA and other healthcare-specific privacy and legal concerns. "Patient privacy and safety are first and foremost" of the priorities, Lewis states.

Because the field of hospital social media is relatively new, and healthcare is an ever-changing, rapidly evolving industry, adaptability and flexibility will also serve you well in the role of hospital social media manager.

How to Get a Job as a Hospital Social Media Specialist

Hospital social media is a relatively new career, and not all hospitals are hiring full-time social media specialists (yet), but the number of available openings should grow over the next few years.

How can you find a job in hospital social media? Use social media, of course! Dana Lewis, for example, connected with her future boss initially on Twitter. Dana offers this additional advice for those seeking a hospital job similar to hers in social media:

  • Find a Mentor: In addition to her connection with her future employer, Lewis also built a relationship with a professional who was already working for a hospital in a similar capacity.
  • Find an Internship: Even if it's part-time or unpaid, an internship can be an invaluable career tool.
  • Informational Interview: If you can't get a job interview, see if someone can chat about future needs or about their facility.

If you have difficulty finding an internship, try volunteering at a hospital. Not only will you learn about the industry, you could also achieve some valuable networking contacts, or even find a mentor there. Also, Dana welcomes anyone interested in healthcare social media to follow her updates on Twitter.

Challenges Faced by Hospital Social Media Specialists

Lewis emphasizes how lucky she is to have landed her role with such a forward-thinking organization. She explains that many other people in similar roles face roadblocks that are largely the result of a lack of understanding about the benefits of social media for hospitals and what it entails. However, at Swedish Medical Center, she does not face many of the organizational or cultural challenges that could be an issue in other hospitals. The fact that Swedish hired someone in a full-time social media role says a lot about the system's commitment to the implementation and utilization of social media.

So what is her biggest challenge in her role? Simply put, "time". Lewis finds that finding the time for all of the meetings and prioritizing all of her tasks is her greatest challenge, and she wishes there are more hours in a day. She is involved in numerous projects across many different departments and practices and therefore the ability to multi-task, and maintain effective time management are keys to success as well.

Compensation for Hospital Social Media Managers

Since there are not many jobs available to use as a benchmark or average for the profession, it is difficult to quote a precise salary for hospital social media managers. As with any profession, education level and experience level will most likely be a factor in the salary range offered. Comparable salaries may be explored by looking up marketing, communications, or social media salaries in your area.

To learn more, you can follow Dana Lewis or her employer, Swedish Health System, on Twitter.

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