The social care sector is one of the most valuable in our society. It is, therefore, in everyone’s best interests for it to thrive and utilise the means at its disposal to ensure organisations succeed. Social media is a great value way of engaging with audiences and influencing them and this is why social media for social care is important to get right.
This is this mistake most people make:
Not setting clear goals for what they want their social media presence to achieve. The truth is that businesses in virtually every sector can generate return on investment from their social media activity but they need goals and a strategy in place. The social care sector is a perfect example of this; there are so many things social media could be used for! Let’s look at what you need to know.
Social media for social care
As far back as 2011, the English Community Care Association (ECCA) published and article entitled “Why social care organisations can benefit from engaging in social media”. Here’s what it said:
Social media provides a platform through which social care organisations can build relationships with similar organisations and interested parties. This provides the potential for mutually beneficial ventures and ways of saving resources to reduce costs; ultimately benefitting an organisation’s service users. News of events and developments can easily be communicated, assisting in embedding the service within its community. In line with the ‘Big Society’ agenda; schools, churches, community groups and others can all be involved with each other to run a community in the absence of a council with endless resources.
Writing a blog on topical issues relevant to a particular company, done well; can position a company as ‘experts’ in their particular field. Securing the trust of the community and the company’s service users can also be achieved in this way.
Our comment: Having a blog is the perfect way to demonstrate your passions and expertise, as well as new stories is an extended piece of text. Having a blog makes directing traffic from social media to your website easier and you will find that some people simply engage more with blog posts.
Age UK are another example of a company who make full use of all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, and here they start conversations on key issues such as dementia and domiciliary care and share research they have discovered or carried out themselves. They use their social media accounts to recruit, discuss and encourage fundraising, and raise awareness of key age-related issues. Open forums mean people can discuss and debate such issues, which benefits Age UK further because it can win them valuable media coverage, gain them trust and respect, and assist their search-engine-optimisation, making the company and its services, as a whole, much more accessible.
Social media is a fantastic way in which companies can engage with their customers and communicate knowledge and actions with interested parties. Similarly, it can be useful for social care organisations that have a clear strategy in place, with defined goals and ROI measures. Formulating such a strategy can take time, but once in place the benefits are endless.
Social media in social care: a case study
As part of MD Jodie Cook’s graduate scheme with the National Skills Academy for Social Care, she spent one year working in the head office unit of Sheffcare – a not-for-profit residential care home organisation based in South Yorkshire.
During her placement with Sheffcare she explored utilising social media to increase local awareness of their brand and recruit volunteers and found it to be very beneficial. For example, through Sheffcare’s twitter account Jodie was able to get in touch with companies who were willing to release their employees for volunteering days, and organise for them to spend these working in Sheffcare’s homes, gardening and doing therapeutic activities with the residents. They then received additional publicity through follow-up tweets, which encouraged other organisations to enquire about volunteering and received attention from local newspapers.
Similarly, sharing Sheffcare’s company events through social media resulted in attendance levels rising, and prompted Sheffield businesses such as The Crucible Theatre to get in touch and arrange joint events.
Jodie also created a comprehensive set of guidelines for any employees wishing to contribute, to protect the brand image of Sheffcare. These included rules around anonymity and data protection, particularly important because of the organisation’s responsibility to its service-users.
If you’d like to know more about social media for social care and need any help or guidance, please get in touch on the contacts page – we’d love to hear from you.