How did Sutter Health triple its Facebook fans in 6 months?

It’s important for small non-profits to learn from larger organizations, and vice versa.  So I periodically fish around in the Facebook stream to see who’s succeeding and who seems to be floundering.

Sutter Health is doing something right with its Facebook fan page.  Because waaaaay long ago I used to be a Sutter Health employee, some former colleagues who are FB friends told me when they started the page.

Of course, I had to kick the tires and see if they were awake if I asked a question in response to one of their “health question of the week” posts.  And (to my surprise), I got a helpful response within an hour.  I later found out that Kami Lloyd was the name of the person behind the answer.

That was six months ago, when Sutter had 450 fans on Facebook.  I recently noticed that they now have 1,407 fans.  Wow!  How’d that happen, I wondered?  So I reached out to Kami to say congrats and to get the skinny on how they managed that kind of growth, and how she does what she does.

Most of the growth was organic, but their internal “six words” contest (re: how do you make a difference at work)  really got their employee population energized, and fueled the growth on Facebook.

Here’s our email exchange:

1. I notice that you respond really quickly to comments.  Are you on FB all day, or do you have a tool that alerts you to new comments?

Although we don’t use a specific tool to alert our team to Facebook posts, we have a commitment to staying connected to our fans. I typically check our Facebook page several times a day, including weekends, so we can promptly respond to posts.

2.  You also have a consistent friendly but professional voice.  Do you have a guideline that you developed that describes content, tone, etc., or do you just have a natural feel for it?

Great question, and I believe it’s truly a combination of both factors. Sutter Health has a social networking policy that educates all employees about their responsibilities in online communities, and our Communications Department tries to produce viewer-friendly materials. That includes using plain-spoken language. As an individual, this also is my own communication style.

3.  You’re fast enough that I think you aren’t encumbered by some internal approval process, which would be pretty silly on Facebook.  How did you (or someone else) convince someone in management to let you respond without micro-managing your answers?

Through Sutter Health’s social media policy and guidelines, we empower all of our employees to take responsibility for their posts in online communities—including Facebook. I respond to the best of my ability, using the knowledge I have from my position in the organization. If I come across something for which I don’t know the answer, I acknowledge that fact online and then connect with an expert as quickly as possible.

4.  Have you ever had a problem with nasty comments, and if so, how did you handle them?  Remove them from the page?  Let them stand?

Facebook is all about having a conversation with people. I welcome all comments and believe one of the great benefits of Facebook is the opportunity to have open discussions. We do not delete posts unless they contain profanity or other questionable content.

5. How much time do you spend a day (on average) just managing Facebook?

I spend around 30 minutes a day on Facebook for Sutter Health.

6.  Do you have an editorial calendar or do you just periodically dream up new creative approaches for messages or themes?

We don’t have a specific editorial calendar but instead see Facebook as another way we can share news and information with our patients, employees and communities. When we have interesting information to share, we include Facebook in our distribution – as we would a newsletter, email or another method.

You probably figured out from Kami’s response,that she has broader responsibilities than managing Facebook or social media alone.  She says that she works on a variety of projects including traditional and social media relations, strategic communication planning, and dynamic media production (e.g. video and podcast development).

I was also curious how her background prepared her for what she’s doing on Facebook.  She has a broad communications background, having worked formerly at Perry Communications Group in Sacramento, and before that as a news reporter and anchor at KFBK AM radio in Sacramento.

Go, Kami, go!

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