When we posted a story on nursingtimes.net about the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s guidance on social media usage, many net-savvy nurses suggested this was an invasion of their privacy and yet another stick to beat them with, while a few countered that it was just common sense in the light of recent abuses of social networking sites.
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In our survey of nearly 1,000 nurses, only 21% felt using the sites could be beneficial professionally. The survey also shows nurses have concerns that social media is being used inappropriately by their colleagues, but, used appropriately Twitter, Facebook et al can be used effectively to engage with service users who perhaps won’t attend meetings or appointments. NHS Direct uses social media to share information, ask for feedback or help, and to immediately handle complaints or correct rumours spreading among staff or the public.
Many big businesses, such as Dell, Ford and Starbucks, all use Twitter as part of their customer service strategy.
People’s expectations are higher than they were 10 years ago - of their local restaurant, their business hotel and yes, rightly or wrongly, of your hospital, GP surgery or clinic.
The lessons being learnt by big businesses about social media are equally applicable to you. And, it’s often easier, more effective and cheaper to use these sites rather than traditional methods. For example, a tweet about NHS Direct’s mental health and symptom checker was retweeted 49 times, giving it potential exposure to more than 32,000 people. And when the service launched its mobile app, one retweet alone (by Martha Lane-Fox) reached more than 62,500 Twitter accounts in one day.
Twitter can’t diagnose, prescribe or care as well as you can, but if communicating about your service and disseminating information and advice is nursing, it seems to me, that social media offer the perfect nursing tool.