5 pieces of Facebook guidance for the uncool

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Elizabeth Newman
Elizabeth Newman

As some of you know, none of the cool kids are using Facebook anymore. However, given its growth among those above age 65 (your residents) and its continued use among 30-somethings and up (your employees), it's worth being clear on some easily-avoidable professional and personal problems.

These aren't all unique to long-term care, but in all scenarios, the biggest piece of advice to remember: What is my (or my community's) news to share?

Here are some case studies to help:

1. My co-worker/sister/daughter is in labor!

I'm at an age where there are lots of babies. This is exciting! It's so exciting people often want to post that they are excited to be an aunt/grandmother again or happy to welcome the newest member of the “Lake Shores Nursing Home” community.

This is fine IF or AFTER the parents have posted the information. This may be a few days, given that your coworker/family member has GIVEN BIRTH.

If in doubt about sharing or posting about someone's child, always ask first. Remember: Not everyone wants to share this information on social media. Plus, not to sound morbid, but pregnancy, labor and delivery can go wrong. It's not your place to celebrate prematurely, even if your intentions are good.  

2) I have a new job!

Or perhaps you are interviewing. Or your spouse may have a new job, and you are moving. Ask: Has the background check cleared? The offer letter signed? A start date decided?

Job offers can go away due to corporate problems, or what was promised in salary can fall apart. In an era where everyone is connected, you have two options: Lock down your profile so only the closest of close friends can see it or wait until news is official. You might even want to wait until your second day.

It's not unlike email: Before you send/post, ask what it would be like if the written words were public.

3) My resident celebrated her 105th birthday!

Every facility is different, but signed consent forms are your friend. Also, was family present during this celebration? If so, are they posting the photos and identifying the facility? Who else is in these photos?

Don't let fear stop you from promoting positive activities — just remember to have permission.

4) My co-worker/parent/friend is very ill.

Facebook is often a source of support in these situations. A few points to remember: One, messages in Facebook are automatically “reply all.” If you don't want everyone on the thread to see your response, start a new message.

Second, if a person is dying, assume that is not widely known. Even good intentions — reminiscing, posting old photos, posting how much you love the person on his wall — will trigger an entire network of people to start asking questions. Ask yourself: Is this helpful to the family?

Third, if the news is publicly announced, much like in a sympathy card, take a moment to ask if the person wants religious words of comfort.

5) My CEO did a line of cocaine at a meeting, yelled a few expletives and ran half-naked out of the room. Ten of us were there.

I am confident the photos and video are amazing, and they will leak. Report immediately to your marketing department for a discussion of managing this crisis. If you are in the marketing department, designate someone to manage all social media channels 24-7. Good luck.

Elizabeth Newman is Senior Editor at McKnight's. Follow her @TigerELN.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.