Get Free Content Marketing Advice

Sign up below and learn how to:

  • grow your online brand with content marketing
  • create valuable content that attracts customers

Sign up

4 Types of Social Media Policies for Healthcare Institutions

Social media is a disruptive technology. It bears tremendous opportunities but it also disrupts the way people work, comunicate and connect.

Danna Vetter, VP of Consumer Strategies at ARAMARK wrote a brilliant piece on titled, “They All Laughed: The Path to Becoming a Social Business.”

It’s about how her own company resisted social media and the path they eventually took to becoming a social business. She explains why people thought it was a laughable idea:

The standard –
“We can’t open ourselves up to this kind of risk.”

The mean –
“You’re just trying to manipulate company perception.”

The ridiculous –
“No one wants to read tweets about hot dogs.”

Sound familiar? Clearly healthcare is not the only space where social media has challenged corporate cultures and status quos. In the case of ARAMARK they were hell-bent on NOT adapting to social media, but rather on adapting social media to ARAMARK.

Organizations that resist social media are afraid that the technology involved is too disruptive to control. They are right. But the problem is that consumer expectations have changed drastically and providing for their needs in this digital age requires a concerted social media effort.

For leaders who are looking for a way to sort this out, there is an interesting report by Jeremiah Owyang (principal of Altimeter Group) which discusses (among other things) 4 types of social media policies that protect not only the organization, but employees and users as well. Here they are:

social media policy folder

Various social media policies define social behavior and protect users


#1. Social Media Policy

This policy is crafted for the organization as a whole and defines how corporate uses social media and how employees can participate e.g. Ohio State University Medical Center Philosophy on Social Media.

#2. Disclosure/Ethics Policy

This policy is created for employees to address issues surrounding disclosure and confidentiality. Also addresses questions such as, if employees are not allowed to publish content on corporate accounts, can they use their personal profiles to represent the organization? e.g. Mayo Clinic’s Guidelines for Employees.

#3. Community Policy

This policy is for customers and prospects. It protects social media communities from abuse, and guides users towards common objectives. When crafting a community policy focus on desired behaviors rather than creating a long list of behavior you do not want. A community policy should be linked to the social media policy.e.g. University of Maryland Medical Center Comments Policy.

#4. Privacy Policy

This policy is intended for users who have privacy concerns. It defines how organizations will use data gathered from social channels and if or how that data will be shared.e.g. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles – Share Your Story: Use and Access Policy.

Over to you: Am I over-simplifying this? Do you think creating various social media policies is enough to avert the potential risks that come with embracing disruptive technologies?



  1. Simple is good, simple is easy to talk about and implement – difficult is scary and gets pushed aside to the never to do pile. Great breakdown of 4 main concentrations physicians, hospital admin, dental offices, and anyone involved in serving health care where they need to focus their efforts.

    Having a policy in place at the very least establishes guidelines and enables the conversation in-house. A starting point benchmark of something to fall back on when there are questions, problems, and even unintended accolades.

    • predsicker says:

      Thanks for your feedback SocialDental!

      Difficult is scary indeed! And social media is scary – in the sense that organizations are afraid to lose control. I agree with you that these policies at least enable the conversation to take place. And that’s a great place to start.

      Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂


  1. […] know and trust are repeated and reinforced. These experiences include everything from attitude to policy and […]

  2. […] long as you’re using social media you should have a HIPAA-compliant social media policy that’s been reviewed and approved by your legal department. The policy should also include a […]

  3. […] to help you govern your social media activities. Involve your legal department to ensure that your social media policies are HIPPA […]

Speak Your Mind