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Back in June of 2018, Cedars-Sinai Social Media Coordinator Agata Smieciuszewski started planning a new video series to spotlight employees from across the medical center as part of their greater #FacesOfCedarsSinai campaign.

Inspired by a similar series conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, this “Words of Inspiration” series — which shows hospital employees reading social comments that patients wrote about them — has already seen two videos garner thousands of views, hundreds of shares, and comments from more patients sharing their experiences with the doctors, nurses, and staff at Cedars-Sinai.

According to Agata, this series was a vehicle for their team to show how the comments they see on social can make more of an impact.

“I really wanted to show the power of social media through this project,” she explained. “We wanted to get messages from patients to the people who really needed to hear them.”

For Agata, that meant more than just doctors and nurses — she wanted to spotlight employees going the extra mile from all across the organization. The first thing she did was meet with their HR contact to get their support and enlist their help to find and contact the employees they were looking to feature.

Together they created a plan of action, and Agata started searching for the perfect comments to pull.

“We always tag whenever anyone says something nice about a staff member, or staff in general,” said Agata. “So, the first thing I did was pull all our comments from Sprinklr and comb through the list to see which comments would work best for a video like this.”

For the series, she decided on choosing a combination of comments that had names of specific employees attached and comments that were more general. She also looked specifically for comments about different areas of the medical center — and comments that were particularly impactful.

Then, she identified the employees she needed to reach out to. “Because we partnered with HR, if there wasn’t a specific person to identify, we would turn to them to help fill in the gaps,” explained Agata. “When that was finalized, I sent our HR contact the full list to go through and double check that all the employees I identified were in good standing.”

They wanted to be thorough in these pre-production stages to ensure everything was in order for the final videos.

Agata said, alongside their HR team, they were working through pre-production tasks and organizing who they were going to feature until September. “It took a little back and forth to narrow some of the comments down to one person,” she said. “Our contact often had to reach out to HR managers to find someone who works in a specific area.”

Once they decided on someone, they added it to a spreadsheet. When their list was full, Agata started reaching out and getting reading to film the video.

Then, in early October they turned to Cedars-Sinai’s video team to help them through the final logistics of shooting and editing the video.

“Once they got involved, it went pretty quickly. We got our first video out around Thanksgiving,” said Agata.

For the actual day of shooting, they scheduled everyone for 20-minute chunks throughout the day to read the comments on camera. “I didn’t tell everyone what the video was going to be, because I wanted their reactions to be genuine,” said Agata. “Once they were there I put them in front of the camera, gave them the comment on my phone, and asked them to read it out loud and say how it made them feel.”

From that shoot, they produced two cuts of the video they have shared so far — with plans to expand the series in a year.

The first video, which came out in November, has received over 12,000 views to date.

“It did really well, and we saw a lot of great responses when that video went live,” said Agata. “It was really exciting to see people watching the video who then would share their stories.”

For Agata, it was exciting to see such positive responses that continue to amplify the amazing work their employees do every day. “I really wanted to show that impact of our doctors, nurses, and staff going beyond just their normal jobs, and going the extra mile,” she said. “I think they are what make people really remember us and keep coming to us. I’m glad the people who are responsible for that got to read how they changed people’s lives, and I’m glad that came across in the video.”

Now that the first videos were a success, Agata is hoping that future expansions on the series will go even smoother.

“Our biggest challenge originally was getting the finalized list of people,” said Agata. “There were so many hands involved on the HR side when we were trying to narrow someone down for a specific spot, so there was a lot of back and forth that made things a little difficult. But I think moving forward, it will move more smoothly because I can point to the older version now as a reference point, and we’ve already discovered some sticking points.”

She said they also plan to involve their privacy team earlier in the process so they don’t have to worry about down-to-the-wire approvals. She is also planning to experiment with sending the videos out at a different time of year to try and maximize engagement and gather more traction.

“We learned the hard way that people aren’t always as active with our content around the holidays,” she explained.

For Agata, this experience has really proved the power of social media for their institution and how they can demonstrate that value as a team.

“I think this series really humanizes our staff and our institution, and that’s an important goal that we’re a part of,” said Agata. “We’re a really public-facing part of this hospital. We need to make sure we’re portraying how our amazing staff is what makes this place so great. The fact that they feel compelled to share an experience they had at Cedars-Sinai with the world speaks volumes.”

As for anyone interested in trying out a similar project, Agata said that getting together with the teams you need to partner with early on is key.

“I would say definitely set up a meeting with everyone you think should be involved — so someone from HR, the service line, communications, etc. — and plan it out more up top to focus on picking out the comments that are going to be the most impactful to the person reading it is an important first step,” she said. “That was a big part of what made this a success.”

Agata also recommends not telling the employee too much of what they’re walking into beforehand. “Part of what made the video special was having that genuine reaction.”