Onward Healthcare's Marketing Director discusses the effect of social media in the travel nursing industry, including how these sites allow nurses to stay connected while on a travel nursing job and how they have changed the job search process for travel RNs.
Back to: Travel Nursing Podcast Main
Peter: Welcome to an all new episode of Travel Nursing Insider. This is Peter Clayton reporting. Today, we’re going to talk about how the advancements in social media help nurses stay connected while on assignment and joining us is Onward Healthcare’s Director of Corporate Marketing, Steve Dobrowski.
Steve, welcome to the show.
Steve: Thanks Peter, excited to be here.
Peter: Do you think social media has an effect on the travel nursing industry?
Steve: It absolutely has. I’ve been with Onward Healthcare now for a little over six years and just to see how the whole industry has changed over that time and how much pretty much everything is going online as far as you know the important of a company’s website. Back when I first started, we were still placing print ads every weekend, running in the classifieds of newspapers. We were sending out mailers to our nurses and moreover, the way that the nurses were staying connected to their family in this, at that point it wasn’t relatively new but it was still a blossoming profession. These nurses were all on the road and they’re sending letters to their family in the mail and trying to develop pictures at Wal-Mart or CVS and get doubles so they could send copies to everyone. The aspects of social media play right into our industry allowing them to stay connected to their family and friends while they’re on their assignment.
Peter: I know you guys use Twitter quite extensively to go out and promote your jobs.
Steve: Absolutely. It’s been very nice for us. We jumped on that right kind of when it blossomed in the industry and we use it to connect with our nurses in a variety of ways, whether it would be jobs, whether it would be company announcements, news trends, just events in the industry, relevant content or whatnot.
Peter: What means of social media do you see nurses using and how do they stay connected with friends and family?
Steve: The one thing about nurses is they are very busy professionals, especially travel nurses. They’re on the go, they’re working long hours so they’re not the most cutting edge when it comes to social media but they have found the ones that they like in that they’re becoming very useful for them but they’re kind of more towards the mainstream social media sites.
Facebook is obviously very important. I mean as you see more and more people just moved to Facebook, I mean it’s like you can’t meet a person these days without having a Facebook account. One thing I like to say is it withstands the parent test of like ‘the second my mom hit Facebook, I was like whoa, Facebook is really out there,’ not that I actually accepted her friend request; however once it kind of gets to that level, it kind of really shows you how many are all on there. So we definitely see a lot of nurses using that to stay connected to their friends and family, stay connected to their travel nursing agency and other groups that they’re friends of.
Flickr is another huge one. As I’ve mentioned before about like nurses having to go to the store and get their photos printed out of their assignments. Travelers obviously, part of the fun part of a travel nursing assignment is you go to these new and different places and you see these great things and you’re snapping photos all the time and Flickr is just a great way to kind of start up an account, post all your pictures there, invite your sisters and your brothers and everyone to kind of join in the excitement of everything you’re seeing while your out on location.
We actually see some travelers have started to host their own blogs which are really cool. We pay a few attention to a couple of people out there. They’re not even travelers with ours but it’s just really interesting to see how they document their own adventures while they’re out on their travel nursing assignments and tell kind of like other nurses how the process works, how they go from place to place and a kind of micro-site that you know nurses could do the same which is much easier for them to operate than blog is a site called Live Journal. A couple of our nurses use that which allows them to post obviously journal entries about their assignments and it also allows them to share in their Flickr photos instantly get mapped into there. As well, they could do voice recordings and post them to there to stay in touch with people.
Finally, Youtube and Metacafe and video sites like that are extremely popular for the nurses out on an assignment. Many of them don’t have time to sit down and watch their favorite programs so these are great sites for when they want to come home and relax for 20 minutes. They could catch a TV show or just basically look at clips from the news or talk shows on these things and it allows them to stay in touch so any presence we could have on those types of sites is created as well.
Peter: How about any nursing-specific social media sites, are there anything out there that you pay particular attention to?
Steve: There are a few. There’s a few that had have kind of popped up over the past year, one of which is allnurses.com, which right now has a little over 400,000 users and that’s a really good site. You see a lot of nurse activity on there. It’s very forum-based and discussion boards. It’s pretty much completely run by nurses. They’re very adamant about basically having nurses run the show on that. They don’t allow employers or agencies or anyone else to have accounts so it really keeps it true to the nurses and nurses go on and they post questions and other nurses come on and answer them. You see tons of trends on a daily basis that go back and forth of nurses kind of asking, I’m thinking about going to this location or I’m thinking about going to this location or I’m thinking about moving to this specialty or possibly advancing my career to a nurse practitioner, and it’s great to see them interact with each other and pretty much give each other advice in this type of profession.
Another one is Nursing Link which is run by Monster. They kind of jumped on the trend following the boom of Facebook and Twitter and being run by Monster, it does have a job board section which allows people or agencies to go on and post jobs which is great but however, they kind of took a lot of elements from other of the popular sites and they really provide great content for the nurses. They have a great staff of writers who constantly produce really fun and light type topics for nurses, such as like most inspirational nurses or most popular TV nurses and that kind of thing. Nice light reads for the nurses and they kind of follow the Digg format where everyone starts a user account and you get thumbs up to the articles you like and you could follow around different users and see what article they’re reading and see what ones they recommend. It allows companies to post our articles on there if we do a blog post. We have the ability to upload it for their site and you’ll know if they approve it, it can go live, so it’s a nice content social sharing site as well.
Peter: Back to something we were talking about a little bit earlier, Steve, and that’s the way Onward Healthcare communicates with its nurses out there now with all of these social media platforms, can you talk about that a little bit and how you stay connected with nurses when they’re out on an assignment?
Steve: Sure absolutely. Like I was saying earlier, it’s changed dramatically from the days of like having to have a temp sit there and stuff 500 letters, form letters into envelopes just to tell a nurse that we were going to be closed on Memorial Day, Monday. Obviously, there’s so many ways to connect to them and one of the main things that we started before all these others was just our travel nurse blog. We added that to our site in over the past year, we’d really need to push to use that as a main means of communication to our nurses and we do featured content, just nice enjoyable articles that they like, that help them with the kind of traveler experience and then at the same time, it allows us to get announcements out to them. We promote our travelers if they’re highlighted in a magazine or a lot of times like we have either travelers or recruiters featured in magazines, such as Healthcare Traveler and it’s a way to kind of promote them to our own network of nurses and even our staff who follows just to say, give them the recognition on top of the magazine so that their peers could see what they’re being involved in.
Every month we do something which is our travelers of the month; we give both the nurse and a allied healthcare professional, we award them as our traveler of the month based on their performance and the feedback we get from facilities. We recognize them on the blog as well and it’s just a great way to push mainstream company announcements towards them.
Peter: We talked a little bit about Twitter; what other social media platforms do you utilized extensively here at Onward Healthcare?
Steve: Yeah, Twitter was definitely one and Facebook as well. We jumped right on those. We were excited to be kind of one of the first companies to really pounce on both of those means as a way to stay in touch with our travelers. I kind of talked about earlier what we do at Twitter but Facebook, we see kind of like whereas what we post on Twitter is more of kind of giving them some job updates and content updates. Facebook is really more of a personal interaction with them. We have an Onward Healthcare fan page because organizations are not allowed to have the individual account, so pretty much anyone who wants to stay in touch with us, just ask to fan us; we can’t go out and solicit which I think is actually a great policy by Facebook. Everyone who is kind of a fan of us has opted in and what we see is we really just see a lot of personal interaction from nurses and it shows how people are using Facebook. At least probably 5-10 nurses a day just pop on to our Facebook actually and just ask anything from, do you have an open assignment here… I’m looking to move to Hawaii, what are your jobs like there... I heard I might need a longer licensure process for such and such a state, can you guys talk to me about it… or I just read something on your website and wanted to learn more, can you put me in touch with the recruiter. It’s almost like they’re more comfortable using Facebook than they are even coming on a website, at least some of them, because they’re there, that’s the community that they’re on and they’re familiar with it so rather than jumping off to our website and chasing around like The Contact Us form, they’re right there. We have someone who attends it on a daily basis so they get an answer within an hour. It makes them really happy and you put them in touch with the right party. That’s worked really well for us.
We mentioned Flickr before too. We have Onward Healthcare Flickr account and we use that just to kind of show like kind of backside of our company, who’s working here, what we’re doing from the corporate side. If we do the breast cancer walk or any other type of company events, we’ll put a host of pictures just to show our employees how we’re involved, that we’re real people and it’s nice because in this type of industry which is so telephone based, the nurse travels around the country and the recruiter is in one of our corporate office. It’s great to put names with faces all the time. We love to see photos of our nurses and they love to actually see photos of us. They’ll check our Flickr just to say, oh, there’s my recruiter. Wow, I’ve been talking to her for a year and a half and I never knew what she look like and it strengthens this relationship a little bit and then it gives them almost something to talk about on the phone too when they talked to the nurse and they’re able to say, well gee, I saw you guys did this, this weekend or hey, I saw you had a company event last week and how was it. That’s fun too.
Then we do the standard things like Delicious. We have a feed for our nurses where we just highlight industry content. As I said before, if one of our recruiters is featured in an article in a magazine, we’ll post that in our feed or just any other content in the industry. There’s a lot of good writers out there and there’s a lot of good stories and basically that revolve around the nursing assignment, what works for nurses, what’s successful, how to find jobs and those things. We always just try to keep an active feed so that nurses who are looking for advice on certain topics to kind of pop on and take a look at that.
Peter: That’s really cool. One of the things I’ve been impressed with is that you have a lot of different people within your organization that are using these social media tools.
Steve: Yes absolutely. We try to get as many people involved as we can. I handle a lot of it myself but a lot of our marketing team does it and pretty much everyone else wants to get involved too, so we’ll always make sure we either feature recruiters or give our recruiters a chance to jump on these sites, offer their insight, talk to their nurses on these sites. A lot of them suggest the links that we post on Twitter or Facebook, a lot of it comes from them or along the lines of hey, my nurse showed me this great article, why don’t we show some other nurses, and that’s pretty much what social media is so it works out well for us.
Peter: Is there any other social media initiatives you’re working on currently?
Steve: We can’t overlook what we’re doing right now.
Peter: That’s true.
Steve: This Travel Nursing Insider podcast which we started right at the end of 2009 has really taken off. This is our 10th episode now and we’ve really become probably the most active podcast in the travel nursing space. Some other companies kind of which had tried to do it before had never really followed up in we’ve just seen a tremendous amount of success from it. Our nurses really love it. Those who listen to it, it’s great to actually get a phone from a nurse who says, hey I was on iTunes, and I typed in travel nursing and I found you guys and I listened to a couple of podcasts. I mean that’s a lead source like six years ago when I was talking about once again the direct mail or the print ads, I mean, who would have ever thought that they would be on iTunes and you hear a podcast and say, ‘wow! That’s just everything I wanted’ to know and be able to use that as a means to find us and then to call us, Especially going to the travel nursing industry, they’re such a busy lifestyle, they’re on the go, they’re moving around a lot, so to be able to just plug-in your headset and listen to a nice 10-minute episode, is a great means to connect to them as far as them not being able to always sit down for two hours a night and just scan over the internet looking for topics that might interest them.
Peter: How about on the client side, have you gotten any feedback from hospitals or any of your clients that have heard any of these podcasts?
Steve: Our clients, we really try to speak to the nurses more than the client but we certainly do see a lot of clients stay in touch with us too. It’s funny because like on Twitter a lot of the hospitals and competitors actually as well do have Twitter accounts. It’s pretty much something you have to have these days. So with the hospitals, it’s a great way, we’ve actually met some clients through Twitter and sparked up relationships that have led to some new contracts which is great because we’re able to offer nurses new locations and it’s basically because we’re out there with an active Twitter stream and they see us, they follow us, we follow back and eventually do a little direct message that says, hey, I saw you have needs in this area, is there any way we could help you out and if the hospital will chime back and say, yeah, sure, we’re aching for NICU and PICU nurses at our facility and then one more direct message back which is great, give me your information and we’ll have our client development rep call you today.
It’s just other way of just getting ourselves out there to a base that we really weren’t able to talk to in the past.
Peter: That’s terrific. Steve as you know, we always end each segment by telling our nurses about where the hot jobs are at Onward Healthcare, but you wanted to go a little bit different route.
Steve: I did Peter. Since I’m not basically behind the desk and at one of the phones, what I wanted to do is really tell the nurses where to find the jobs. As a marketing guy, basically it’s my job to get our name out to the nurses, to show our nurses where our jobs are; so I figured this was just a great time for those nurses who are scouting for jobs as we tell them where all the hot locations are, is where to find us.
One of them is on the featured travel nursing jobs section of our website, as well as kind of on all these sites that we just mentioned about Twitter, Facebook, if we have a hot need, you’re going to hear about it on one of those sites and the nurse were there, it’s just a great way to kind of figure out what our hottest needs are. Even when you see us post a need, if it’s not what you want, ping us right back, reply to our post, reply to our tweet and tell us, hey, that’s not where I want to go but here’s where I want to go and I guarantee you someone will answer you very quickly.
Peter: That’s some really great advice. Thanks Steve and thanks for joining us on Travel Nursing Insider.
Steve: Alright Peter, it was my pleasure.
Back to: Travel Nursing Podcast Homepage
Please complete the fields below to apply for the assignment in .