Chapter 3


Image: Lightbulb.

1. Your strategy doesn’t need to be long – just set out how you want staff and your organisation to behave on social media. Understand your organisation values

2. If in doubt of how to respond to difficult/negative queries, check with a team member and remain calm. Confirm your organisation’s stance on a query before responding

3. Know who you are trying to engage with when you post content and ensure it is correctly targeted at them with the right tone of voice and accompanying image



*What you choose to put out there on social media should be informed by the following:

  1. Listening to what conversations are already happening on social media. What does your audience like, what topics interest them, who do they listen to and what would they like help with?
  2. What does your organisation want to talk about?
  3. What has been successful in getting people engaged for your organisation previously?

Decide what sort of content your accounts will focus on, and where you can find that information.

  • News stories on the web
  • Stories from your organisation
  • Relevant information from other organisations
  • Events
  • Key awareness days

Remember, you don’t have to write or produce everything that you share. Simply finding credible, useful or interesting information or stories will be gratefully received by your audience, if it is relevant to their interests and needs. Just make sure you give credit where credit is due.

twitter link ‘Remember, you don’t have to write or produce everything that you share’ #SocialMediaTip via @SkillsForHealth #HealthSocialTools

Image: Shirley Ayres.

"Share generously your knowledge, passions & links to good resources which have value for you & your network."

Shirley Ayres, co-founder of the Connected Care network and author of The Click Guide to Digital Technology for Adult Social Care.

Here are some examples of engaging healthcare social media posts:
Image: SfH NursesDay.
Image: NHS England.
Image: NHS Choices.


Image: SfH Video.
Image: NHS Grampian.
Image: Alder Hey Childrens Hospital.

Trying new things on social media:

Here’s a roundup of the #NHSSM Twitter chat on what new things people and teams across the NHS were trying out on social media. If you’re looking for ideas to try, that may not be new, but new for you, then this chat roundup will give you a good starting point.

If you want to get involved in the #NHSSM Twitter chat, check out the Twitter account @NHSSM for more details on when the chats take place.


Image: Engage your audience.Showing that you are working collaboratively with your audience is important - whether that is partner healthcare organisations, clusters, or third sector organisations.

Once you start using social media to talk about your work and engage with your audiences, you have a responsibility to remain part of that conversation. Demonstrating that you are answering and continuing a conversation with your audience will work in your favour.


Here are some good examples from healthcare organisations of listening to communities

NHS will monitor Facebook for comments about hospitals, says new CQC head:
Peter Wyman, the new chairman of the Care Quality Commission, sets out his plans for an overhaul of the health service regulator

Using Twitter to predict Norovirus outbreaks
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) explored whether Tweets relating to symptoms of Norovirus could be used to predict the number of Norovirus cases recorded by Public Health England.

Cheshire East - Demenshare - final case study A campaign that uses social media for customer insight.

You can use some internet tools and apps to make listening easier.

There are free and costlier tools out there to help monitor all aspects of social media.  You will need to decide which of the available meets your need most effectively.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend you start with a free tool so you can understand what kind of functions you find useful before investing in expensive software.

Here are our top free tools for starters:

Image: Hootsuite.

Hootsuite allows you to schedule social media updates throughout the day across a range of platforms and from a number of accounts. Hootsuite allows knowledge sharing via social media to be a structured, automated process, and allows your updates to be planned in a time-efficient manner.

Image: Social Mention.

Social Mention
Social Mention allows your organisation to get a reading of how you are perceived socially - tracking things like mentions, sentiment and keywords.

Image: Tweetreach.

Tweetreach helps to identify the reach and exposure that a hashtag has, while providing auxiliary information on hashtag users and timing.




Every organisation has a different culture and way of talking, and considering the most effective tone-of-voice to use is important depending on who you’re talking to, and where.

It is not always unprofessional to be informal: even on social media platforms aimed for professionals, the expectation is that people talk naturally, in a conversational tone.

Image: Helen Reynolds.

“You wouldn’t finish a conversation with ‘kind regards’ and you wouldn’t use technical jargon if chatting to your family and friends.

Press releases are meant to be sent to journalists, letters are supposed to arrive in the post. Social media is designed to be social.

The more you listen and use social media, the more you’ll get a feel for how people speak to each other there.”

Helen Reynolds, Social for the People

Remember that it’s OK to have a light touch if you think it will help people to engage with you positively.

You can never go too far wrong, with a friendly, modest and generous tone of voice.

Here are some good examples of a light-hearted posts using local language that’s appropriate for the content and images posted.

Image: NHS 24.
Image: Hywel Dda Health Board.
Image: North Tees.
Image: Will Barker.

"It's important for organisations to bending across social media on a national and local level. Locally, look what's happening around you, what's being talked about and how can your organisation enter into that conversation in a relevant way?

Nationally, social media can be used as a powerful tool to enter into conversations happening around the country, particularly around what's trending. Make sure you consider opportunities to enter into national conversations with your content and remember that not all issues will be relevant to everyone, particularly in devolved countries like Wales."

Will Barker, The Social Approach



Image: Negative Interactions.

Inevitably, you will have conversations where someone may be angry, upset or hostile in some way. The reasons for this could be that:

  • Your organisation has mishandled a situation
  • The person doesn’t have access to necessary facts and is frustrated

The most important step is to always assume that the person you are talking to is expressing their feelings in good faith, and that you may be able to help.

Here’s a flowchart that will help you deal with most interactions on social media:

Image: Answering people on social media.

Remember there will always be people who don’t agree with what you say. Don’t panic in these situations as they can occur.

If someone is clearly distressed or unhappy, it is usually best practice to respond to these queries or comments – mostly so the person in question knows you’re on the case with dealing with their enquiry and are acknowledging that you’ve heard them loud and clear.

It's best not to rush in too quickly in responding to someone. If you need speak with a colleague or manager, or simply need to check your social media policy (see chapter 4) before responding, just let the person know that you are checking with the team and will come back shortly.

If you’re uncomfortable responding on social media, (remember: everything on social is public), then you can ask them for their email or phone number to take the conversation offline.

Image: Negative Interactions.As long as situations where this activity occurs are handled professionally and responsibly, all will be OK.

Having an FAQ document in place is a useful asset in helping to prepare for these situations. The best thing to do is to work with your team to troubleshoot every situation you could be faced with and decide amongst you, the most appropriate response for each.

If you want to read more on this topic, here are some helpful articles:



NHS Choir Christmas number one

In short: NHS staff beat Justin Bieber to the 2015 Christmas number one thanks to a groundswell of social media support – including from Bieber himself. ‘A Bridge Over You’ by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir took the lead after Bieber urged his 72million Twitter followers to buy their single, not his. The choir recorded the song to celebrate “everything good about the NHS”, splitting proceeds between several charities. While it had already attracted thousands of positive comments on Facebook, Bieber’s tweets gave it an undeniable boost, finishing more than 30,000 sales ahead.