Social Media Policy for the Wellness Center of Door County

Note: this document was constructed as a hypothetical example by Susan Gigot-Klein, a graduate student at UW-Stevens Point, for the class “Developing an Integrated Social Media and Marketing Strategy” and is not the actual Wellness Center of Door County policy.

Wellness Center of Door County Mission

The Wellness Center of Door County is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide compassionate, affordable health care in an empowering environment that respects diversity, dignity and choice.

Introduction

The WCDC recognizes the importance of social media in communication, information gathering and marketing. We encourage our employees, volunteers, board members, subcontractors, consultants, partners and clients (hereafter named associates when referring to all of the aforementioned) to engage in platforms that best suit their needs and to share that information with us. The main purpose of this social media policy is to minimize risk to the Wellness Center of Door County (WCDC) and any of its associates while engaging in social media. Since the social media world continues to evolve rapidly expect that this policy will of necessity, also not be a static one. Your participation in periodic discussions and training is not only welcomed but crucial. REALLY!

Rights

Keeping Personal Accounts Private- All associates have a right to keep personal accounts private. Never will access to private social media accounts or granting of a “friend” request be a requirement of employment with or services rendered by the WCDC.

Unfriending and Unsubscribing- Clients have the right to “unfriend” any WCDC representative or unsubscribe from any WCDC social media site without fear of harassment or reprisal.

Use of WCDC Computers to Access Personal Accounts- Employees have the right to access personal accounts on WC computers during break times. Remember to log out and clear your history so that your account will not be inadvertently viewed by others using the computer after you.

Personal Media Devices- All associates have the right to monitor their personal media devices while on WCDC grounds. We trust them to do this in a responsible manner which does not interfere with work or the comfort and privacy of others around them.

Alternative Modes of Contact- Clients have the right to be informed of service offerings and events in whatever communication mode is comfortable to them. Please be sure to ask and record this in their file when first contact is made. Appointment reminders, medication pick-up notices and discussion of cases have no place on publicly viewed social media and must utilize a more private form of contact of the client’s choice.

WCDC Business Account- Employees, long term volunteers and subcontractors may have the right to a Yahoo email business account for WCDC related correspondence. WCDC email accounts may not be used for personal messages or monitoring personal social media accounts. See the WCDC director for details.

First of all, do no harm

On line Diagnoses- Be friendly, helpful, respectful and professional but avoid on line diagnoses. Long discussions of a client’s particular problem replete with medical history or requiring discussion of a personal nature should be taken off line. Just as no health care provider would in good conscience diagnose over the phone, neither should he/she do it via social media. Inform about diseases, conditions, deficiencies- yes. Diagnose them without a work-up at an office visit- no.

Fact and Opinion- Be sure you delineate fact from opinion. Although citing of specific research studies is not appropriate to the conversational tone of many social media platforms and is best left for professional correspondence be prepared to back up your facts with research or credible sources if necessary.

Professional Expertise- As in all communications, be honest. If the answer to a question is not in your professional scope of knowledge, don’t comment. If you must comment don’t speculate. Refer the questioner to a WCDC professional with the proper expertise if possible or a professional outside of the WCDC if necessary.

Maintenance and Monitoring

Social media sites once created must be monitored to catch problems before they get out of hand. Posts must be made on a regular basis to maintain accuracy of information and to prevent online community members from wandering off in search of information elsewhere. Tools such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Google Reader and Google Alerts that monitor, organize and send out alerts for key words, hash tags and RSS feeds can help you keep up to date and stockpile a ready supply of topics. Monitoring our online community can give you a sense of when members are active and receptive to new posts. Sharing or division of the responsibility for sites or tasks may be helpful if these they become burdensome.

Social Media Time Allocation

Logging Social Media Time- Time logged by employees and subcontractors while conducting WCDC related social media exchanges with clients or each other from home computers must fall within their allotted number of work hours per pay period. If a crisis arises that requires extra time deal with it and talk to your immediate supervisor about it as soon as possible.

Balancing Social Media Time with Other Work- Many people have found it easy to “get lost” in the social media world while hours slip by unnoticed. Please be aware that this is neither healthy nor in most cases productive. While it is not realistic to dictate the number of hours that should be spent on WCDC related social media exchange it is the responsibility of employees and subcontractors to balance social media time with real life communities, associates, other work duties and personal life efficiently so that none is neglected. A rule of thumb is to employ short social exchanges (important for gaining trust) while reserving longer posts for topics relevant to our services. The tools and tips in Maintenance and Monitoring above may also help you to organize so that you can make wise use of the time you do spend online.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Passwords- Follow program prompts for choosing strong passwords that are different for each program. Then use them; don’t let programs or browsers “remember” them for you. This is particularly important if you share a computer with others or use a laptop or smart phone which may be more easily lost or stolen.

Photographs- Photos of happy people enjoying our services are worth a thousand words. Just be sure to obtain a signed release form from all individuals in the photo in advance of posting or tagging them on any social media site. Please also include a message on WCDC hosted sites encouraging community members who post photos to ask permission of the individuals in the photo as well and a disclaimer absolving the WCDC of any liability regarding photos posted by community members.

Personal Contact Information- Personal contact information of fellow associates may not be shared on social media sites without prior consent and careful consideration should be given to posting of this kind of information for yourself.

Case Discussion- Recognizing that clients’ cases may need to be discussed between care providers via email or phone text, clients should be identified by initials only and only in those instances. Clients’ cases should not be identified by name or any other identifying factor on social media sites.

Client Documents- All documents pertaining to clients of the WCDC or of its subcontractors or partners are confidential and must not be shared with the public, on or off social media. Consult the WCDC employee handbook when considering which documents may be shared with volunteers, subcontractors, associates or law enforcement. Those same policies apply to the use of social media for the purpose of document sharing.

Internal Affairs- Internal disputes, tensions, negotiations, gossip or financial matters should remain internal and not enter any media realm.

Funding- It is best to hold announcement of funding until it is definitely granted. Consult the donor or granting foundation before giving public acknowledgment by name or use of their logo. Some may prefer to remain anonymous and your grateful thank-you could actually be a violation of their charter or code of ethics.

Etiquette

Relevance- Consider relevance when selecting personnel to whom you relay internal communications. To help keep all our inboxes smaller select only those to whom the information is pertinent.

Personal News- A little small talk helps to break the ice on work related accounts but keep personal news to a minimum.

Professional News- Do share widely any professional accomplishments that relate to your role at the WCDC in particular or health care in general. These need not be relegated to Linked-In alone. We want everyone to know what you have to offer!

Listen, Inform, Communicate- This should be the bulk of your social media presence. Direct marketing when overused is a turn-off. A rough guide is 10% marketing, 90% other.

Link with the WCDC Site- Please notify the WCDC of your intention to create a related site. Use the WCDC logo and if possible mission statement on any related sites you create and explain the connection. Don’t forget to provide a link to our website and post your comments and events on it from time to time too.

Link with Other Sites- Link with associated non-profit, business and subcontractor sites and events. Helping them spread the word about their organization will also help us spread the word about ours.

Spam- Permission should be sought from individuals or an organization before adding of their names to a WCDC related notification list. Unwanted emails, newsletters, or social media messages could jeopardize your original intent to inform.

Ethics

Offensive Comments- Be nice. If debate heats up diffuse it quickly or stay out of it. Remember your mother’s words: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This last statement includes our competitors. A negative comment left by a community member on a WCDC hosted or related program site should be addressed as though it was a misunderstanding, as they often are. It should not be ignored or deleted. Remember it’s likely that other readers have already seen it too. Correction of a misconception and an offer of additional help in a civil (even kind) tone will do much more to rectify the situation and keep you and the WCDC in the good graces of the whole online community than pretending it didn’t happen. However, foul, obscene, abusive, harassing, bullying or defamatory language, or obvious spam, scams or illegal behavior should be addressed firmly with a warning that a repeat of such comments will result in deletion of the comment and possible blocking of the commenter by the site host. Links to similarly offensive sites, videos or images should be deleted immediately and the same warning given.

Opinions- Although employees, volunteers and subcontractors have the right to express their personal opinions when not representing the WCDC please keep in mind that you may be regarded by the public as a representative of the WCDC at any time of day or on any social media account. Any health care related message posted on non WCDC accounts should be accompanied by a disclaimer/disclosure clarifying it as a personal comment or one that is representative of the WCDC.

Politics- Any representative of the WCDC should consult the WCDC director before posting any health care messages which might possibly be construed as political in nature. A misstep in this arena could result in the loss of our non-profit status and/or support from donors!

Intellectual Property- Respect intellectual property rights when posting quotes, images, videos, links, logos, stories, recipes, ideas, etc. Someone likely labored much longer to create it than you did to find it. If you are unsure of the law consult the website it was taken from. About.com Web Design/HTML at http://bit.ly/GXRuIU or the World Intellectual Property organization website at http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ may also be helpful to refer to. Often attribution involves a chain of sites. The Curator’s Code website http://www.curatorscode.org/ has some helpful tips in that case. When in doubt ask the author. If you use it with only minor modifications and cannot find guidelines that fit give credit as “inspired by”. Also see Funding above regarding logos.

Consultants- While it is recognized that consultants may of necessity be granted access to privileged or confidential information at no time may that information be shared outside of the WCDC and only with staff, volunteers or board members on an as need to know basis. It is understood that while social media consultants may represent the WCDC in start-up of social media sites those sites must be established giving WCDC sole ownership during and after termination of consultation services.

Consequences

If you realize you have made a mistake in etiquette own it and correct it as soon as possible. If privacy or confidentiality has been breached, false information given, or ethics violated report it to the WCDC director. The violator will be asked to discuss the matter with the WCDC director who will then determine whether the board needs to be involved and/or any disciplinary action taken. In the unlikely event that it is warranted disciplinary action could include termination or prosecution.

Conclusion

Please keep in mind that this policy and privacy settings can only go so far in protecting individuals on line and information sharing  by social media platforms may change at any time. Ultimately your reputation, those you interact with, and that of the WCDC rests with you. What is posted leaves a digital footprint that can never be completely erased everywhere even when modified or deleted. It is potentially there forever.

 

Image Susan Gigot-Klein is working toward a Master of Nutritional Science degree at UW-Stevens Point and is the creator and coordinator of Woman Food, a nutrition awareness program offered by the Wellness Center of Door County.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Susan,

    Great work on creating a social media policy. I have a few comments about your policy and hope you can find them helpful when looking at your social media policy again.

    “Keeping Personal Accounts Private- All associates have a right to keep personal accounts private. Never will access to private social media accounts or granting of a “friend” request be a requirement of employment with or services rendered by the WCDC”
    – This section is great. It seems as though more compaines and organizations are requesting employee’s or new hires usernames and passwords to personal accounts.To me it seems as though that is invasion of privacy and shouldn’t be a factor of getting the job or not. I like how you stated that people hace the “right” to personal accounts.

    “Use of WCDC Computers to Access Personal Accounts- Employees have the right to access personal accounts on WC computers during break times. Remember to log out and clear your history so that your account will not be inadvertently viewed by others using the computer after you.”
    – This section might pose a problem for the organization. My questions would be, how do you monitor when people are on work hours, what if someone leaves their personal account open and another employee or client sees it or perhaps hacks into it? I think this section is importatn but may need more clarification or details.

    “First of all, do no harm”
    – This whole section is really great and so important if you are dealing with clients who have medical information.

    “Social Media Time Allocation”
    – This section seems very appropriate for your oganization, although it may require a lot of time from a supervisor to monitor. Time allocation may be a meaningful training for employees.

    The “privacy and confidentiality as well as the ethics section seem to be in all the social media policies i’ve seen so it’s good that you added them here.

    Lastly it’s interesting that you added a consequneces section. It clarifies what will happen to someone if they violate the policy.

    Like

  2. Susan,
    This looks like a great start to a Social Media Policy. I like that you broke it into several subcategories. That makes it more user-friendly and gives it the ability to be more comprehensive.

    I also like the point you made about the use of personal media devices in a productive way. Trusting that it will not interfere with work is not typically what a company would believe would be the case, but we should trust those we hire to be able to obtain a healthy balance.

    Like

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