Use Social Media Tools to Celebrate EMS Week Anytime, Anywhere

LaptopBy Greg Friese

Social media tools create an opportunity for EMS professionals and agencies to connect with and engage with other professionals and the communities they serve anytime and anywhere. As you prepare for EMS Week 2010 activities and celebrations, consider how you can celebrate and recognize EMS accomplishments all year with free and easy-to-use social media tools. The use of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger and WordPress has been growing rapidly, and you may have even started a personal or organizational account with one of them. Find ways to take advantage of these valuable tools before, during and after EMS Week.

EMS Week always has two primary purposes. The first is appreciation of EMS professionals. The second is connecting your community with its EMS agency to improve public awareness of EMS contributions. These purposes don’t have to be confined to a single week each year.

Begin today to establish a social media presence that will build toward your EMS Week celebration activities. Start with a "hub" for your efforts, using a blog or a Facebook fan page. Then add "spokes" to feed content into your hub and to increase connection opportunities. Good spokes include Twitter, Screenr, YouTube, Blog Talk Radio and Flickr. Use the hub and spokes to share information, resources and tips, and to answer questions.

Specifically consider a regular series—at a minimum of once a week—of posts, podcasts or videos on any of these topics:

  • Profile members in a blog post or three- to five-minute video that shares details about their experiences, interests, length of service and likes/dislikes of being an EMS professional. Aim for a candid and authentic presentation. Forgo a script in favor of a real conversation.
  • Invite patients and family members to write about their experiences with your agency and its EMS providers. Testimonial posts or videos are a powerful affirmation about your commitment to the community. Link to their posts, videos and tweets from your agency hub.
  • Post quotes from patient testimonials to your organization’s blog, Twitter account and Facebook fan page. Accept and comment on the praise and credit you have earned.
  • Photograph training activities and events. Post action shots from training to your Flickr account. Embed a slide show in your blog.
  • Use a simple handheld video camcorder to record short clips of training or incident response. Post these to your agency YouTube channel.
  • Give your camera to a simulated patient during a training exercise to document EMS assessment and care from the patient’s perspective. Write captions for each photo about the procedure or technique being shown.
  • Blog about response data in monthly and quarterly "what we are up to" posts. In each post, highlight a specific type of emergency call and give the lay person tips about what to do in that type of situation.

Profile important accomplishments and organization successes in blog posts and audio or video interviews. Share events such as cardiac arrest saves, injury prevention programs, new employees completing training, length of service awards, new equipment, completion of special training and grants won by your organization. One or more of these things happens monthly or weekly in all organizations. Ear Buds

Spread the word about your social media presence by doing these simple things: 

  1. Add social media badges and buttons to your existing agency website that links to your Twitter account, blog, Facebook fan page and YouTube channel.
  2. Make local print and television media aware of your social media hub and spokes. Invite them to use your content for news reports.
  3. Connect with other social media users in your community. They may share your content to broaden its reach.
  4. Add a simple sharing request in your posts. "Please share" or "please retweet" work well.
  5. Read, listen and comment on what other EMS professionals are presenting in social media. There are lots of agencies already doing great things. Watch and learn from them. Ask questions, interact and share.
  6. Invite readers, listeners and viewers to share your content by making it linkable and embeddable. Use blog tools like "add this" and "share this" to encourage sharing.

You don’t have to do this alone. A computer, Internet connection and smartphone make any emergency responder, patient or bystander a social media public information officer. Many of your employees, volunteers and patients are already using social media. For employees, create a policy that gives them guidance on appropriate creation of social media during work and what to present about work. Obviously, you don’t want anyone to compromise patient confidentiality, but why not empower and encourage employees to blog or tweet about new equipment, training activities, injury prevention tips or challenges they face as EMS professionals.

Building an anytime, anywhere connection with your community using social media will help increase awareness of and support for your agency. In 2010, with free and easy-to-use tools, you can complement traditional EMS Week media activities with a year-round presence.

Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, co-founder of PIOSocialMediaTraining.com, helps EMS services with social media initiatives. Learn more with an email boot camp training program from PIOSocialMediaTraining.com. Subscribers to the free program receive 10 instructional emails about social media. Each email has a specific action step to help readers apply the educational information. The email boot camp covers the use of social media in both emergency and non-emergency situations. Readers learn about social media tools, how to create a hub and spokes for distributing content and engaging stakeholders, and how to equip a social media "jump kit." Each email draws on best practices, ongoing efforts of other emergency responders and available tools for creating social media.

Social Media Terms, Tools and Techniques

Social Media IconsWebinar
Learn five reasons to develop and distribute social media for EMS Week in a no-cost webinar from PIOSocialMediaTraining.com. The 60-minute session will include specific ideas for EMS Week social media creation and 30 minutes for questions and answers with EMS social media expert Greg Friese.

Podcast
A podcast is an audio or video program optimized for delivery and listening on a smartphone, MP3 player, or computer. Audio content can be easily captured and edited with free software. MedicCast.com, EMSEduCast.com and EMSGarage.com are three popular podcasts.

Blog
A blog, shorthand for web log, is a dynamic portion of a website or a stand-alone website. Use an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver or Front Page to add a new page or new posts to the blog. EverydayEMSTips.com and PIOSocialMediaTraining.com are blogs powered by WordPress blogging software.

Microblogging
Twitter is a microblogging tool that allows users to post 140-character messages. Twitter users can read the posts (called Tweets) of other users, reply to Tweets and forward Tweets to other Twitter users. After creating a Twitter account for yourself, create the accounts @EMSWeek2010 and @gfriese, and follow them.

Social Networking Sites
Social Networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, are used to build and maintain relationships. Every EMS agency should have a Facebook fan page as either its hub or as a spoke. Use your fan page to post events, share videos and photos and link people to blog posts and content on other spokes.

Media Sharing Sites
Upload training and injury prevention videos to your agency’s own YouTube channel. Viewers can subscribe for notification of future videos. Allow viewers to embed your videos in their blogs to increase the reach. Flickr is a photo sharing website. Post and tag training photos to your Flickr account, another spoke. You can also embed Flickr photos or slideshows into your blog posts.

Screencasting
Screenr is a screencasting tool that captures your on-screen actions and audio from a microphone. Use Screenr to create a narrated slide show, demonstrate a software process, or instruct viewers on how to receive your blog feed in an RSS reader.

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