Lily Vautour with Boston Children’s Hospital on rogue Facebook pages, nurse friend requests, and sharing positive feedback

“Social media gives you more control to tell the story exactly how you want.”

I'm never going to be a doctor, but I love that my job gives me the opportunity to support those who are.

That's Health member Lily Vautour explaining why she gravitated towards the social side of media relations in the early days of her career at a PR firm in Boston. “Reporters wouldn't share the story of my client exactly like I'd want to. I'm not a major control freak,” laughs Lily. “But in some ways, I wanted more control over the story, and social media gives you that.”

As a part of the firm, Lily says she loved doing work for her green tech clients the most because their strong mission felt more meaningful. And it was that desire for mission-driven, rewarding work that eventually brought her to healthcare.

“I'm never going to be a doctor, but I love that my job gives me the opportunity to support those who are. I think that will ring true for anyone who's a part of Health,” she says.

She started with Boston Children's Hospital as a Social Media Specialist — the only person dedicated to social media.

For her first project, Lily had to wrangle in a ton of rogue, program-specific Facebook pages. With about 30 rogue pages run by departments, physicians, program administrators — some had been abandoned, some weren't properly branded, and some had good engagement.

For those networks with meaningful interactions, Lily worked with them to clean up the pages and build them into subsets like the Heart Center and Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children's Hospital.

“It was a good way for me to get to know the people in the hospital,” Lily says.

She also worked with her writing team to help build a consistent content program featuring patient stories. Now, as the Senior Social Media Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital, Lily has more support from a social media specialist who handles content and monitoring.

Lily's main focuses: Volume reputation, patient experience, and employee engagement.

In a regulated industry like healthcare, we can't pretend social doesn't exist anymore.

“We're tracking all the metrics possible to demonstrate that social supports our brand awareness goals. We want to make sure as many people as we can know Boston Children's and that it's the number-one pediatric care in the world.”

Lily says her team has become a customer service arm for the hospital in certain ways. ‘We get dozens of messages a day from families. We're not doctors, so we can't answer their medical questions. We just try to direct people to the right place, respond, and triage people daily.”

She says their main audience consists of moms — people who are comfortable with Facebook and find it more convenient to message the hospital's page with quick questions than to call customer service. “We're as quick as we can be with two people on the team and a part-time intern,” Lily says. “But we pride ourselves on being helpful.” Lily says they always take the time to thank people back, even when the message doesn't require a response.

“The reality is, moms are going to send nurses friend requests. They're going to try to message doctors on Facebook.”

Lily says, “In a regulated industry like healthcare, we can't pretend social doesn't exist anymore.”

That's why staff education has become a big part of her role in social. She's constantly working to help them mitigate risk, avoid HIPAA violations, and let them know what to do when a patient reaches out via social.

In one training program, Lily and Jessica walked ten floors from 10-2 AM to talk through social scenarios with over 100 night nurses. She says they started with nurses because they build the closest relationships with families, and they face the highest risk. Eventually, they're looking to roll it out to the entire hospital.

She balances the guidelines and rules with social's positive engagement factor.

When physicians or nurses are mentioned in comments and posts, Lily's team shares that feedback with the team.

“We tell them, this is the kind of stuff we get to read about you every day, and if you would join our employee community, you could see it every day too. We get paragraphs of comments with people pouring their hearts out about how wonderful a group of nurses, or a surgical team, or the custodian. ”

In fact, nurses have told Lily that sometimes when they're having a bad day, they'll go to the comments section of Boston Children's Facebook page and just read a few.

Lily has been a member of Health since 2016. Follow her on Twitter.