How does a giant hospital group respond to flare-ups on Twitter?

At Kaiser Permanente, the answer is: Very quickly. It weighs in when trouble brews—even if it doesn’t have all the answers.

Not long ago, 18,000 nurses struck Kaiser Permanente, the largest integrated health care system in the United States.

In monitoring Twitter, Kaiser Permanente staff saw that some nurses were tweeting to let patients know they weren’t on strike. One added, “I respect my nurse manager who pitched in and helped clean and turn patients. Now THAT’S a manager.”

Not only did Kaiser Permanente’s team highlight the tweet, but it passed the information along to the nurse manager’s boss, said Vince Golla, director of digital media and syndication.

“We were able to turn that into effective feedback in our own organization via Twitter,” Golla said at a Ragan.com conference at Southwest Airlines’ headquarters. He and Elsa Gutierrez—Kaiser Permanente’s assistant director of the social media unit for member services—offered a tour of the minefield of social media crises, and suggested tactics for responding.

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