Posted in #HCSM, Thursday Tip

#ThursdayTip: Do These 4 Things Before You Post To Social Media

Welcome to this week’s social media tip. Today I want you to think about how you can do more than just add to the online chatter.

Here are four questions to ask yourself before you post to your social media channels.

1. Is this post valuable to my social media followers?

Ask yourself why your followers (and not just you, personally) would find the content to be valuable.

Better still, ask your audience.

Go right to your audience and ask them what kind of content they’d like to see from you. You can create quick polls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or go deeper with a survey. Survey MonkeyPolldaddy and Google’s own survey forms are all simple tools of the trade which have been around for ages and they still work really well.

Recommended Reading7 Places To Discover What Your Audience Wants To Read (So You Can Write It For Them!)

2. Which channel is best suited for this post?

Now that you are certain the information adds value,  it’s time to decide which channel would be best suited to convey this message.

If you have already created a mission statement for each of your brand’s social media profiles, this step is easy: just see which channel’s mission statement best describes the post.

Recommended ReadingHow To Create A Social Media Mission Statement For Your Healthcare Business

3. Is this post optimized for the social network I’ve selected?

While the quality of your content is a key factor for successful social sharing, how you present your information is also very important.

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters — with visual content leading the way. According to research by Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts.

Obviously, if you’re sharing on a visual channel, like Instagram, you’ll want to add high-quality visuals, but consider adding visuals also to more text-based channels like Twitter. Tweets with photos give a boost to engagement rates. 

Pro Tip: You can easily create your own images with drag-and-drop tools, like Canva and Ribbet.  They will also automatically create the right sizes for your Facebook page, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Recommended Reading10 Places To Find The Best Free Images For Your Healthcare Marketing

Other things to consider when it comes to optimizing your posts are using the correct hashtags and creating an impactful headline.

Recommended Reading: 50 Power Words To Super Charge Your Content Marketing

4. Am I posting this at the best time?

To optimize your engagement and reach, you want to share content when your audience is online. If you search for optimal posting times, you will find many guides online. You can follow these recommendations as a starting point, but it’s best to do your own testing to see which days and times work best for your own audience.

Once you’ve determined the right posting times for each social channel, schedule your posts to hit those times. Use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

Recommended ReadingHow To Better Manage Social Media With Hootsuite

Putting it all together

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I’ve been sharing this graphic for the past three years from Hootsuite and I still love it. The questions above are based on this flowchart. Keep it close to you and refer to it often.

Here’s to your social media success!

 

Posted in #HCSM

How to Care for the Millennial Patient

Millennials (aged 20-35) are often called the “C” generation, “C” standing for “connected.” They are the first generation to be born in today’s digital environment where they’ve had 24/7 access to streams of information and constant connection via technology.   Along with this shift in demographics comes changes in experiences, attitudes, and expectations, all of which have implications for health care providers.

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2012 study from ZocDoc and Harris Interactive found that 51 percent of millennials surveyed visit a physician less than once per year. They believe seeing a doctor is too much of a “pain.”  According to a Salesforce’s State of the Connected Patient report, millennials are generally frustrated with filling out repetitive forms, and the time wasted waiting in a doctor’s waiting room.  Seeing a doctor is an unwieldy, expensive and unwelcome errand.

Understand that millennials are heavily invested in technology, and then get your own technology in order.

In contrast to authority-driven customer communication modes, nearly half of all millennials want their healthcare experience to feel more accessible and engaging.  While millennials have different and sometimes non-existent relationships with their doctors, they believe digital health has the potential to change that.

Digital healthcare that gives a greater sense of control is of great value to millennials.  Commonly cited examples of digital health include health tracking devices like Fitbit, self-diagnosing websites like WebMD, and apps that make it easier to make appointments, order medication, store individual health data, and recommend preventative health measures.

Millennials Turn Online For Health Information

Millennials are driven by information. It is how they make buying decisions and decisions about their own health.  Unlike previous generations, millennials don’t rely on a strong relationship with their doctor.  They are mistrustful of authority (in a study conducted by Greyhealth Group and Kantar Health, only 58 percent of millennials said they trust their doctors), preferring to google their symptoms and self-diagnose prior to scheduling a doctor’s appointment

Compared to any other generation, they default to — and prefer — information corroborated by multiple channels and influencers. In fact, before even meeting with a healthcare professional, 54% of Millennials have consulted as many as seven information sources for purposes of self-diagnosis from blogs to medical message boards, ratings and reviews and more.

Become The Trusted Online Source

Making a practice accessible online is essential to attract millennial patients.

Take a look at how you deliver information to your patients, as well as how you offer appointment scheduling.  Millennials want health information to be readily available and easily understandable.

Review your website. Weed out any industry jargon and hard-to-digest information.  Make forms available on your site so patients can fill them out ahead of time online.

Embrace social media and content marketing. Create and share high-quality content that provides engaging, important information about self-care.

While millennials are glued to their smartphones, few actually use the device to make a call –  so use more email and automated text messaging (a 2014 Gallup poll shows that 68% of people ages 18-29 utilize text messaging)  to communicate. with them.

Embracing The Future of Healthcare

Millennials are the first of a technologically-savvy generation of health seekers – closely followed by Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010).  Embracing the future of healthcare means embracing communication channels that reflect millennials’ wants and expectations.  Regardless of specialty, ensuring your practice offers the accommodations younger patients seek out should become a higher priority in 2019.

Further Reading

Posted in #HCSM

How To Create A YouTube Channel for Your Medical Practice

Earlier this year I wrote a post about the missed opportunity in healthcare to use YouTube as a patient education tool.

As a form of patient education and health promotion, YouTube has great potential but currently, it’s not being used to its full potential.

Aside from patient education, YouTube is a significant addition to your marketing toolkit. Owned by Google, it’s the second largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection.

YouTube At A Glance

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If you don’t already have a YouTube channel for your practice, perhaps now is the time to consider it.

A Step By Step Guide To Creating Your YouTube Channel

Follow these simple steps and you will have your own YouTube channel up running and ready to reap rewards.

Step #1 You’ll need a Google account to sign-in to YouTube

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Step #2 Next click on “My Channel”

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Step #3 Now add your business name or your own name 

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Step #4 Create a title for your channel

Your channel title should be descriptive and briefly tell viewers what your channel is about.

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Step #5 Select Customize Channel to fill in more details 

Add a link to your website and a description of your practice.  Adding your location to your YouTube videos will make them geographically searchable,

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Step #6 Add a thumbnail image (e.g your logo) and banner (channel art)

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I  recommend you use the same picture across all online media: Facebook, Twitter, website, YouTube, etc. Aligning your video branding with that of your business creates a consistent experience for your audience. When existing and potential customers visit your YouTube channel, they need to feel that it is part of a greater whole.

The recommended size for channel art is 2560 px by 1440 px.

Pro Tip: Canva can help you create correctly-sized thumbnail and channel art.

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Step #7 Connect your social media accounts

Add in your social media accounts.

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These can be overlayed on your banner image.

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As you can see it’s super simple to set up your own YouTube channel. In my next post, I’ll show you how to upload your first video and optimize it for viewing. 


Subscribe to my YouTube channel here. I’ll be uploading new videos in 2019

Posted in #HCSM, Thursday Tip

#ThursdayTip: How To Create Content With Emotional Resonance

Welcome to this week’s social media tip. Today I want you to think about how you can create emotional resonance through your content marketing.

The word “emotion” is a combination of the prefix e-, meaning “away,” and the Latin word movere, meaning “to move.” In this sense, emotions break us away from our standstills, moving us in new directions and prompting us to take action.

Numerous studies have found emotional arousal plays a key role in driving social sharing. In 2012, researchers Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman published research based on an analysis of 7,000 articles from the New York Times to see which types of articles were most shared by email.

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The results indicate that virality is partially driven by physiological arousal.

“Content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (anger or anxiety) emotions is more viral. Content that evokes low-arousal, or deactivating, emotions (e.g., sadness) is less viral.” — What Makes Online Content Viral?

The Harvard Business Review released research in 2016 which showed that creating a powerful emotional experience increases the chances of going viral. The research, based on an analysis by Frac.tl of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com, as voted on Reddit.com, found:

  • A significant correlation between content views and positive feelings (specifically joy, interest, anticipation, and trust).
  • Negative emotions were less commonly found in highly viral content than positive emotions, but viral success was still possible when negative emotion also evoked anticipation and surprise.
  • The emotion of admiration was very commonly found in highly shared content, an unexpected result.
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Heatmap of the aggregate emotional data, representing the totals compiled (HBR)

One way to create emotional resonance is to tell a heartwarming story.

Effective stories inspire people by creating human connection and emotional resonance. In 2015, an article about a husband and wife celebrating 82 years of marriage, topped USA Today’s most shared content. Not only was the story uplifting and inspirational, but it also shared insights on reaching over 100 years of age (if you’re interested — the couple describes a healthy diet and frequent naps as the secret to growing old).

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Marie Yoland Eveillard speaks with her father Duranord Veillard, who will celebrate his 108th birthday on Saturday, and mother Jeanne Veillard, who turns 105 in May. The couple got married in Haiti in 1932. Tania Savayan/The Journal News

Once you understand how to strike the right emotional chords with your message, you can greatly increase your chance of getting your content widely shared.

Here’s to your social media success!

 

Posted in #HCSM

Do Online Health Seekers Trust Social Media? Surprising Results From A New Survey

A new survey profiling how American adults access, use and feel about health-related information finds that most Americans who regularly seek health information are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information on social media, and few have found health information on social media to be accurate.

These findings are consistent across generations. The survey, The Great American Search for Healthcare Information, was conducted among 1,700 Americans 18 years of age and older. It was commissioned by global communications and marketing services firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.

I find the results of this survey very interesting for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, it’s interesting to learn that the majority of online health seekers are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information. This reassures me in a way because it means that, contrary to the pervasive belief that the public believes everything they read online, people are actually far more discerning.

It also underscores for me that patients aren’t looking to supplant knowledge from healthcare professionals with the information they find online. They still look to their healthcare providers as the source of credible health information.

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Note that nurses, pharmacists, and eye doctors score higher than medical doctors in terms of satisfaction. This finding surprised me. The survey suggests that physicians may have a millennial problem.

The Millennial generation is least likely to be very satisfied with the information provided by medical doctors. In evaluating other attitudes toward physicians, the study suggests that doctors may be contending with a Millennial trust challenge. In addition to their lower satisfaction levels with information from doctors (on a basis relative to other generations), Millennials are the least likely generation to say they always listen to their doctor(s), the most likely to believe that online health-related information is as reliable as that from medical professionals and the most likely to say they trust their peers more than medical professionals.

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Secondly, I find it disheartening that survey respondents are not finding accurate health information online. We know for a fact that accurate health information does exist online, so why are people not rating it higher?  Medical information websites fall just below average in terms of satisfaction (39 percent).

Finally, I’m a little surprised to learn that concerns about the accuracy of social health information are consistent across generations, including digital natives.

Gen Z, is just as likely to be concerned about incorrect or misleading information as the much older Boomer generation (91 percent and 87 percent, respectively). This suggests that social media comfort and proficiency do not have a bearing on perceptions of legitimacy, leading to the conclusion that it is the content or channel that is the challenge for health-related information communicators.

All of this adds up to a trust and credibility problem we need to urgently address.

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare industry is still lagging behind in delivering credible and relevant information to patients when and where they need it most.  Healthcare has much to learn from other industries who are adept at mapping the customer journey and providing relevant and timely information at each stage of the journey.

Earning Trust From Online Health Information Seekers

Within each problem lies its solution. To address the trust gap, the authors suggest the following fixes:

Prove your online credibility from the outset

  • information should be cited by a medical professional
  • it should cite a scientific study
  • it should be associated with a trusted brand
  • it should be cited by a trusted school or research organization

Design your content for discovery

By building content that is discoverable across multiple channels – online and offline – you can intersect your customers across their journey and ensure that they find the credible information they’re looking for.

Use succinct, clear and plain language in your communications.

Recognise that people are swimming in information and overwhelmed by the volume, creating confusion and perceptions of conflicting facts.

I would add to this list that it’s important to talk to patients in your offices about the information they find online. For more on this read What’s the Influence of Patients’ Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviour on the Patient-Physician Relationship?

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

In a post published in Physician’s Weekly, primary care physician Mikhail Varshavski, DO, is unequivocal that healthcare professionals’ failure to influence social media is responsible for the rise of misinformation online.

I used to consider the absence of quality physicians online merely a problem of missed opportunity. Now I’ve realized it is much more than that. If misinformation has the power to call in to question the validity of something as grand as an American presidential election, it certainly has the power to influence our patients’ everyday health decisions. The healthcare industry as a whole needs to advocate for more education and focus on this burgeoning global communication platform.


According to a 2017 survey by PM360 Online, only 9% of physicians engage with patients and other health care providers — this includes physicians who reply to comments, join group discussions or share helpful information and links on social media platforms – and as low as 1% of all health care professionals use social media to be content creators — publishing original content via blogs, forums, and websites.

Click here for the full The Great American Search for Healthcare Information report and presentation. It includes additional findings such as the types of health information Americans seek, their use of new digital health services and apps and attitudes about the concerns vs. advantages of the state of healthcare information today.


You might also like to read 

Protecting the Value of Medical Science in the Age of Social Media and “Fake News”

An Opportunity To Build Patient Loyalty In An Era Of Social Media And Fake News

Posted in #HCSM

Why You Should Live-Tweet Your Next Conference

What is Live-Tweeting?

Live-tweeters use the hashtag relevant to the event they are tweeting about (which can usually be located on the conference’s website or Twitter profile). Twitter followers who cannot be at the event in person can follow along using the hashtag and this in turn expands the reach of the conference.

Live-tweeting enhances personal learning

Live-tweeting can also enhance your own personal learning as it requires you to listen more carefully and focus more sharply on the key details of a talk in order to better summarize what the speakers are saying. Furthermore, live-tweeting is a means of amplifying the conference experience, generating global reach and stimulating collaborative potential.

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This learning is further consolidated with an archive of tweets on which you can reflect further after the event.  Sarah Chapman, whose work at the UK Cochrane Centre focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, observes how this in-the-moment tweeting captures the immediacy and energy of the event: “Live tweeting can convey the atmosphere generated by a controversial or entertaining presentation in a way that will be lost by the time you get to look at the slides uploaded on the internet”.

Many times the original tweet will be supplemented by pertinent comments on Twitter from other conference attendees and also from those listening in online.  For example, someone may respond to a tweet by questioning the strength of the clinical outcomes of a study, or a practicing physician might respond with their experiences treating patients.  As a review published in J. Clin. Med. states: “The diversity of expertise and backgrounds that can communicate on Twitter is unique, and this exchange of information can be extremely beneficial.”

Live-tweeting enhances virtual learning

Reporting live from a medical conference or event allows you to provide valuable insights to those who are unable to attend in person.  Due to rising costs, concern about our carbon footprint and increasing time commitments, virtual attendance is becoming more commonplace at healthcare events – hence the rise in live-tweeting.

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There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting, hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum. Wong, Wilkinson & Malbrain, Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care!

Mark Brown, a UK-based mental health advocate, points out that “There have been many recent publications and events imploring us to have a national conversation about mental health.  Why then do so many fascinating discussions happen at conferences, uncaptured and inaccessible to people wanting to join them?”

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Brown believes “this democratisation of access is vital if we want to broaden our mental health discussions and raise the level of sophistication in our arguments and debates. For this to happen we need some brave souls who know how to cover an event via live tweeting and who are prepared to do so out of a sense of public service.”

You might also like to read Make Your Mark at Medical Meetings with Social Media


This is the first in a two-part guide to live-tweeting.  In part 2,  I will share my tips for best practice in live-tweeting. Whether you are a conference organizer, a speaker, or an attendee these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity to report live from your next event.   

Posted in #HCSM

Six Content Marketing Lessons I Learned From A Simple Thanksgiving Tradition

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although I live outside the US, Thanksgiving’s one of those holidays I celebrate in spirit, if not in person. I’m always curious to learn more about Thanksgiving traditions and being a foodie I’m fascinated by what people eat at the dinner table.

While I still can’t get my head around that sweet potato and marshmallow combo, a green bean casserole is something I might be tempted to try. If you live in the US I guess you already know the story of how this dish came to be a Thanksgiving dinner staple, but for those who aren’t familiar, it’s such a great marketing story with lessons for all of us who want to improve our content marketing.

The casserole originated 63 years ago in the test kitchen at Campbell’s Soup, where Dorcas Reilly worked as a home economist. Dorcas invented a Green Bean Casserole recipe in response to a question from the Associated Press: “What’s a good Thanksgiving side dish that uses ingredients found in most American kitchens?”

The dish Dorcas invented went viral. Millions of Americans made the casserole that year. And today, over 60 years later, it’ll be served on an estimated 30 million Thanksgiving tables across the US, earning its place as one of the most beloved recipes in America.

So what lessons can this simple recipe teach us as content marketers? In my latest Medium post, I share six valuable lessons we can learn from Dorcas’s green bean casserole.

Click here to read

Posted in #HCSM, social media tools

18 Top Tools For Your Healthcare Blog

I love discovering new tools and apps which help make our social media marketing activities more manageable and more productive.  Each Monday  I share one of favourite social media management tools with you to try during the coming week. Today I want to put some of those tools together in this post organized around the theme of blogging. These tools will help you create, edit and promote your blog content more effectively.

So let’s get started right away with tool #1.

1.  Bit.ly

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Bit.ly is a tool which creates shortened links to track the performance of your content once you promote it. Use it to create a custom short link for each post you create and share.

2. Buzzsumo

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Buzzsumo is a useful tool to explore which pieces of content are popular on social media around a certain topic. Use it to brainstorm popular topic ideas based on keywords related to your topics. You can also input your own domain name (as I have done in the example above) into the search bar and see at a glance how often and where your content is most shared.

3. Canva

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While the quality of your content is a vital factor for successful blogging, how you present your information is also very important. Visuals are a key component of a successful blog. Canva is one of my every-day go-to tools when I am creating visuals. It’s so easy and quick to use it with a multitude of layout options, fonts, images and illustrations to choose from.  Use the pre-set blog template to create header images for your bog.

4. ClickToTweet

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Click to Tweet is a cool free tool which generates one-click tweet boxes or links that can be shared through your website, your blog, or via email. It’s a powerful way to increase social shares and highlight quotes, stats, and key takeaways for your content marketing. It’s also available as a handy Chrome extension.

5. Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer

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According to Copyblogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. Your headline is the first (perhaps only) impression you make on a prospective reader.  Use the EMV headline analyzer to calculate the emotional value of your headlines to create titles which will resonate with your audience.

Bonus Tool: Download a list of 90 headline power words here.

6. FreePik

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FreePik offers users, high-quality graphic designs: exclusive illustrations and graphic resources. It operates on a freemium business model which means, the majority of the resources offered at Freepik can be used for free, only having to credit the author of the illustration to Freepik. In addition, for a small fee, you can subscribe to the Premium plan and use the illustrations without any accreditation whatsoever.

7. Hemingway Editor

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A proofreading tool which clears your copy of all unnecessary copy. Just paste your text into the editor and you’ll get an analysis that highlights lengthy, complex sentences, adverbs, passive voice, and common errors.

8.IM Free

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This site contains images (mostly from Flickr) organized by themes such as inspiration, recreation, and ambient. On the site, you’ll also find free templates, icons, button makers, and more.

9. Life of Pix  

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Life of Pix offers free, high-quality images that are available for personal and commercial use. Each comes with a helpful color palette so you can plan your visuals accordingly.

10. Lumen 5

This is a cool tool that enables you to turn your blog posts into slideshow-type videos in minutes. The free plan includes unlimited videos, access to 10 million video files, and 480p-quality video with the Lumen5 watermark. You can also upload your own logo. Upgrading to the Pro plan ($49/month) lets you remove the Lumen5 branding, upload your own watermark and outro, and more.

Simply input your blog post’s url and Lumen 5 will import the text and images from that post and auto-create your video. You can then edit it, swap out images, upload other images and add music before you hit publish.  The video above is one I created with  Lumen 5 from an original blog post

11. Pexels

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Pexels provides over 3,800 high-resolution photos, collated from other free image sites — making it one of the largest free image directories. Pexels has also added a large library of stock videos to its site also under the Creative Commons license. Use the site’s list of popular searches to find the most in-demand stock video.

12. Pikwizard

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Pikwizard hosts over 100,000 completely free images, with over 20,000 of those exclusive to the site. The site has a good selection of medical-themed images. The site is particularly good for aesthetic procedures and dentistry-related images.

13. Photofunio

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With PhotoFunia you can edit photos online for free in a matter of seconds resulting in high-quality photo collages. As the name suggests, this tool is a lot of fun to use. It helps you make a mark with your photos by incorporating your photos into mock-ups of background images including billboards, magazine covers, and movie posters.

14. Snip.ly

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Similar to Bit.ly, this url shortner tool allows you to enhance every link you share (whether your own content or someone else’s) with a call to action (CTA). When people click on the Sniply-generated link, they can view the article you shared and see a CTA.

15. Stencil

If you like sharing quotes on your blog you can take advantage of their ready to add quotes feature. It will save you a lot of time. You can save, download or share up to 10 images per month, for free.

16. Text Readability Consensus Calculator

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This tool takes a sample of your writing and calculates the number of sentences, words, syllables, and characters. It then takes the output of these numbers and plugs them into 7 popular readability formulas to help you find out the reading level and grade level of your materials and help you to determine if your audience can read what you have written.

17. Quora

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Quroa is a question and answer platform where you can either ask a question about your topic or simply do a search using your topic keyword to find what people are asking about that topic. It’s a super place for market research.

18.Unsplash

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Unsplash gives you access to a bank of 50,000+ free-to-use photos. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Do you have any favourite tools to enhance your blogging? I’d love to hear about them if you do.

Posted in #HCSM

How To Create A Social Media Mission Statement For Your Healthcare Business

Following on from my previous post on the necessity to create a social media strategy for your healthcare marketing, today I want to show you how to turn that strategy into a focussed mission statement.

This statement should guide your social media activity and help you focus in on where you need to spend your time and efforts.  Here is a sample statement I use with my own clients.

Social Media Mission Statement

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Each time you create a new piece of content or make a decision to try a new social media tool or platform, see if it fits the mission statement. Doing so will help make your social media decisions more focused and effective.

Do you have a mission statement for your marketing? 

 

Posted in #HCSM

How To Develop A Social Media Strategy For Healthcare Marketing

In the past decade, social networks have evolved from “a nice to have” add-on to a necessity for healthcare marketers. 

When using social media for marketing purposes, it’s important to understand that social media marketing is more than just creating social accounts and posting updates once in a while. Nor is it merely a digital tool to broadcast updates. To make social media an effective means to reach patients you need to take a strategic approach.

Before diving into social media, you need to think about what you are actually trying to accomplish. The temptation is to start right away by building a following on one or more of the popular social media platforms. But actually, this is not where you should start.

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You need to start with your “why” before your how. In a recent interview, Lee Aase, communications director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN), pointed out that “Everything starts with why you are using social media If you do not have that “why” out there, then it’s going to be easy to not be motivated enough to stay with it.”

When I take on a new client, I always start by working deeply with them to uncover their motivation for wanting to use social media.  I believe this step is so critical that on occasion I have to advise some clients that they are not ready to commit to social media.

Social media will only work for you if you are prepared to put the work in.

For those of you reading this who are ready for the challenge and willing to work at it, read on to find out the next steps you need to take to ensure the time and effort you spend on social media will pay off for you.

A Six-Step Approach To Developing A Social Media Strategy For Healthcare Marketing

Step #1 Set SMART Goals

Without goals, it’s hard to know exactly how well your social media strategy is performing. Clear goals will not only propel your strategy forward, but they will also serve as defined metrics when it comes to measuring your progress. Describe the specific goals and outcomes you’re seeking to accomplish with your social media activity. These should be aligned with your business goals and clinical priorities.

Do you want to attract more patients? Communicate more effectively with existing patients? Create and maintain an online reputation? Drive traffic to your website? Chances are you may want to do all of these things, but it’s best to identify your top two to three goals and focus on them first.  Whichever goal you wish to pursue, make it as detailed and specific as possible. The more trackable your goal is, the easier it’ll be in a few months to see if you have achieved it.

Take Action: For a goal to become a reality, it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic, as well as time specific — these are often called SMART goals.

Step #2 Understand Your Audience

Before you jump into the tactical and practical details of your social media plan, it’s critical that you take the time to understand your audience.  Where do your patients go online for research? What health issues concern them the most? Which online communities inform or influence them? What times are they online? Consider your audience’s engagement time, not your work hours.

Take Action: Start by finding data on your existing audience. Use the Demographics and Interests sections of Google Analytics and the audience analytics features contained within Facebook Insights and Twitter to help you.

Step #3  Set Your Marketing Budget

The perception that social media is free is misguided. The days you could make an impact with a few tweets or Facebook posts are long gone. Running a social presence now requires an investment of resources.  You may need to buy-in services such as SEO (search engine optimisation), analytics software, content or creative support. You will also need to budget for paid advertising, particularly if you want to make an impact on Facebook, where organic reach has steadily declined over the past few years.

Take Action: Set a realistic budget and create a digital marketing strategy that works within it. Whatever you decide to spend money or time on, be sure to track how your content performs on social media relative to the amount of time and money you put against it. This is your social media return of investment (ROI) and it is closely linked to the goals you set at step #1.

Step #4 Choose Your Social Channels

Armed with information on who makes up your audience, the next step is to determine which social media platforms they use and direct your efforts accordingly. Most marketing efforts are focused on the trifecta of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but visual platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram are also very popular for healthcare marketing.  This doesn’t mean that you have to be everywhere at once. It’s important, especially if your resources are limited, that you’re focusing your social media efforts in places that will generate the most return for your time online.

Take Action: Do your research to determine where best to focus your social media efforts to be successful.  Read Which Social Network Is The Right One For Your Medical Practice? for more advice.

Step #5 Create A Content Strategy

If patients are searching for health information online you need to be creating and sharing what they are searching for.  Tune into the health stories patients are reading about and be ready to provide context, counter misinformation and dispel myths with medically factual information.

When creating a content strategy for your medical practice consider the following points.

What makes you uniquely you? What values does your organization stand for? Use social media to communicate the “who” and “why” of your practice. What unique qualities make you stand out?

Consider your social media tone and voice. How do you wish to communicate on social media? Do you wish to be seen as authoritative, inspiring, friendly, approachable, or helpful? Authentic communication and engagement are highly valued traits online as much as offline.  Look to build and strengthen trust and credibility in all your online interactions. The tone and voice you use should be consistent through all social channels. Your patients should be able to instantly recognize the tone in your social media messages as identifiably you.  Establishing a clear and identifiable voice can also make it easier for others in your office to post on social media for your practice.

Consider the type of content that works best on each platform. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest require high-quality visuals to stand out. A blog, on the other hand, is better suited to long-form thought pieces. Think about how you can vary your message delivery to complement how people like to consume online information. Alternate between written content, video, infographics, and podcasts to match your audience’s preferences.

Take Action: Create content that truly resonates with your patients. Generally speaking, patients are less interested in your brand, your physicians or your technology, than they are in how you can help them solve their problems. Great content is not about you, but about what you can do for your patients to improve their quality of life. Use a mix of original content and content curated from highly credible evidence-based sources.

Step #6 Track And Measure Social Media Activities

How will you know if you achieve your social media goals? To determine how effective your social media efforts are, you will need to measure your results. Some key metrics to track are the number of followers you attract and retain, what people are saying about you, your company, or brand, and which social media channels drive the most traffic to your website. Social media metrics should always be tied to your social media marketing goals and your target audience.

Take Action: Use built-in tools such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, third-party tools, and measurement of social traffic and conversion with Google Analytics to track and measure your progress.

With currently 2.8 billion social media users globally, expected to rise to almost 3 billion users by 2020, social media’s influence has still not reached its peak. It’s a dynamic environment in which new networks emerge, old networks evolve, and user bases continue to grow exponentially. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this rapidly moving landscape and unsure of your progress. By building your social media strategy on a solid foundation you are less likely to become distracted by shiny new tools, and more likely to see results over the long-term.


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