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. 

If you haven’t yet integrated social media into your marketing mix, it’s time to do so. Not only is social media marketing more affordable than traditional forms of marketing, but it’s also more accountable, with specific tracking and monitoring options at your disposal.

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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Image: Marie Ennis-O’Connor

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.


Need help creating a social media strategy for your business?

Get in touch with us to discuss your needs. 

Posted in #HCSM

What’s the Influence of Patients’ Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviour on the Patient-Physician Relationship?

How and in what ways does patients’ Internet health information-seeking behaviour influence the patient-physician relationship?

The rapid proliferation of health information on the Internet has resulted in more patients turning to the Internet as their first source of health information and acquiring knowledge on their health conditions before seeking a professional diagnosis.

This is changing the ways that patients interact with healthcare providers. Gone are the days when individuals passively received health information and interventions, assuming that a doctor held all the answers. Nowadays, it’s increasingly common for patients to find resources and/or seek out additional information online.

With online health information becoming increasingly popular among patients, this may change the way in which patients interact with and participate in consultations with their physicians and how they feel about their relationship with their physicians.

When researchers Sharon Swee-Lin Tan and Nadee Goonawarden systematically reviewed existing research on patients’ Internet health information seeking and its influence on the patient-physician relationship, they found that it can improve the patient-physician relationship depending on whether the patient discusses the information with the physician and on their prior relationship.

The impact of patients seeking online-heath information on the clinical encounter

In their review, Swee-Lin Tan and Goonawarden point to two over-arching concerns.

(1) Misinformation on the web

With the quality of medical information on the web ranging from peer-reviewed to personal blogs and anecdotes of other patients, patients may not possess the necessary skills to evaluate medical information and relate it to their own health circumstances. Therefore encouraging patients to discuss their Internet information searches is increasingly important, given that acquiring information on the Internet has the potential to misguide patients with inaccurate information.

(2) Satisfaction and trust in physician

When patients’ online findings do not align with physicians’ diagnosis or treatments, concerns have been raised as to how a patient’s appointment satisfaction and trust in the physician would be affected, and how conflicts could occur between the physician and patient – physicians could feel threatened by the information and respond defensively by asserting their “expert opinion.” This may then result in dissatisfied patients who may seek a second opinion, change the physician, change their treatment plan, or self-medicate using recommendations found on the Internet.

A study published in the Journal of Family Practice reported that eighty percent of patients went online post-visit. Dissatisfaction with the physician’s performance motivated information seeking for 40% .jpg
A study published in the Journal of Family Practice reported that eighty percent of patients went online post-visit.  Dissatisfaction with the physician’s performance motivated information seeking for 40% of respondents.

Facilitators of discussion of online findings during consultations

The review highlighted 3 facilitating factors that encouraged patients to discuss online health information with their physicians:

(1) Having a family member present at doctor visits

Having a family member present would help patients remember what to ask and made the context more comfortable to share online findings.

(2) Doctor-initiated inquiries

Some patients reported incidences of doctors’ positively encouraging patients to search the Internet for information.

(3) Encountering a treatment-related advertisement that suggested talking with a doctor.

Online advertisements or recommendations about certain medications and treatment prompted some patients to initiate a conversation with their physicians.

Barriers to discussion

(1) Concerns over how physicians would react

The most common barrier to patients’ willingness to discuss their online findings was that patients were skeptical of how physicians would react: “patients were afraid doctors would perceive them as “challenging” and  “confrontational” if they discussed their health condition from a more informed point of view during consultations.”

(2) Physician resistance to discussion of Internet information

The second most common barrier for patients was “the resistance or discouragement from physicians encountered when patients tried to discuss their Internet information research during consultations.”

Conflicts arising from physicians and patients having different interpretations of the online information (when patients valued this information more) had adverse implications for the patient-physician relationship, resulting in higher levels of patient anxiety, confusion, and frustration.

Patients also felt that some physicians reacted in a way that “implicitly or explicitly discredited the patients’ ability to become informed via the Internet, presenting serious barriers to shared decision making during consultations, with the physicians asserting their authority by dismissing patient-acquired knowledge.”  As a result, “patients carefully observed their physicians before deciding whether to reveal their Internet research, and patients would only bring up their Internet health searches if they felt the situation was right.”

(3) Fear of embarrassment

A third major barrier was the fear of embarrassment. Patients who identified this to be a barrier felt “they did not possess the required skill set to evaluate online medical information. They had a lower level of confidence in the trustworthiness and the credibility of online information. They manifested a sense of being unsure of how to explain the information they found and how to relate it to their own condition, and hence did not want to mention it to their physicians.”

Other than these three main barriers, some patients did not discuss their findings during consultations because “they did not think the information was important enough and they searched the Internet just to be informed.”  Other reasons cited were “a reluctance to interfere with physicians’ diagnostic process and lack of time during doctor visits.”

Implications for the patient-physician relationship

Patients experienced a better patient-physician relationship when they had the opportunity to discuss their online health information with their physicians, and their physicians were receptive to disc (1).jpg

In the studies reviewed by the authors, most patients felt that “Internet health information seeking prior to consultations had improved their communication with doctors and the effectiveness of their consultations.”

Patients felt more in control and confident during the consultation as a result of bringing information to their physicians. Patients also felt more confident in their physicians’ diagnosis once they had discussed their online findings.

Patients used the information to help them prepare for their visit, ask better questions, and understand what the physicians told them (they believed the patient-physician communication had improved because they could understand their doctors and the jargon they used better).

By discussing information they had accessed on the Internet or setting questions in advance, “patients were able to better understand and participate in consultation sessions with their doctors.” Thus patients “felt better equipped to communicate with their physicians during the consultations” resulting in “greater clarity, orientation, and certainty.”

A majority of patients had felt more comfortable with information from health care providers because of their Internet searches and felt more confident with the doctor’s advice.  Interestingly, patients who shared online information felt that they received more attention from their physician, compared with non-sharers.

The patients’ sense of empowerment was dependent on how receptive providers and specialists were to the patients’ desire to take part in the decision-making process. The review showed that “the effect of online information on the patient-physician relationship depended on several factors.”

(1) The positive influence of online information was stronger when patients had an opportunity to discuss their online findings.

Patients who perceived their information search to have improved their relationship with physicians saw the Internet as an additional resource that supported doctors’ advice and enhanced the relationship with doctors. On the other hand, when patients valued the information they found on the Internet above their physicians’, this information led patients to ignore physicians’ expertise.

Not disclosing their Internet information searches could erode patients’ trust in their physicians if the diagnosis or the recommendations are different from their Internet research findings.

(2) Physicians’ reaction to patients when they shared their online findings could determine the positive or negative effect on the relationship’s quality.

When patients perceived physicians to be threatened by their bringing online information, 49% of the patients were seriously dissatisfied with the consultation and 4% believed their relationship was worsened. Conversely, patients felt that the relationship was strengthened “when physicians displayed adequate communication skills in discussing patients’ queries.”

(3) The quality of the existing relationship with physicians

Patients judged their physicians’ reactions as “mostly positive when they had a good prior relationship, even when the doctors’ replies were evasive or openly critical of the patients’ Internet search.”

Conclusion

It’s important to note that patients don’t see their information searches as a substitute for clinical advice.  Patients typically see the Internet as an additional resource that can help them to better understand doctors’ recommendations and advice.  They still value traditional doctor-patient consultations as important to their understanding of online health information, and their trust in physicians remained very high. Under this model of care, the physician acts as a teacher or a friend by engaging patients in a dialogue through the decision-making process.

When physicians embrace openness to online information and encourage patients to discuss the online information they have, patients’ perception of physician resistance and fear of embarrassment could be reduced and patients are more likely to discuss online information with their physicians.

In contrast to the belief that patients’ Internet research can erode the patient-physician relationship, our findings show that patients’ Internet health information seeking has the potential to improve the relationship.

The authors conclude that as patients have better access to health information through the Internet and expect to be more engaged in health decision making, traditional models of the patient-physician relationship need to be adapted to patients’ changing needs by incorporating their perspective into a relationship-centered medical paradigm.


Tan SSL, Goonawardene N. Internet Health Information Seeking and the Patient-Physician Relationship: A Systematic Review. J Med Internet Res 2017;19(1):e9

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Posted in #HCSM

The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards

Earlier this year I contributed to a paper published in the journal, Clinical Chemistry, which explored the use of social media in medicine and medical education. You can read the full paper here –  it’s Open Access (yay!).

Both personal and professional use of social media by medical professionals is increasing. Some medical specialties have quickly adopted and embraced social media, particularly in the fields of family medicine, pediatrics, and emergency medicine.  Emergency and critical care medicine have embraced social media under the free open-access medical education (#FOAMEd) movement that seeks to share knowledge as widely as possible and for free. (Fun fact! The term FOAM was coined in June 2012 in a pub in Dublin, over a pint of Guinness).

Extracted highlights from the paper

Shannon Haymond, Professor of Pathology, sees social media as “a way to stay up to
date on rapidly changing fields and to connect with a diverse set of people who share your interests. This is particularly true for finding those interested in your area
of expertise but from a completely different perspective.”

I continually use social media to find and save ideas for improving the content and delivery of my lectures and educational sessions – Shannon Haymond

In response to the question of barriers to the adoption of social media among medical professionals, Haymond points to lack of time to tackle a steep learning  curve and notes “people are not sure of the value or level of professionalism (i.e., they assume it is all about pop culture and celebrity feuds) and  may be apprehensive to put their opinions out into the public conversation.”

Emergency medicine consultant, Professor Simon Carley considers that emergency medicine has adopted social media at a much faster pace than most specialties “owing to the ability of social media to engage individuals across the breadth of our specialty, despite the chronological and geographical challenges that typify our practice.”

I am more up to date than my peers who do not engage. I am a better physician as a result, and I truly believe that my patients receive better care because of this. Professionally I find it intellectually satisfying, as I am forced to constantly learn and reflect on my current practice. It has created opportunities to join research and educational groups across the globe with interactions through #FOAMed, leading to journal publications and numerous invitations to speak at national and international conferences. My personal learning network of experts is no longer limited to those in my department or hospital, and I regularly learn from those in other countries and health economies – Simon Carley

Although Carley thinks there still exists “a big gap between awareness and involvement”, clinical educator, Jonathan Sherbino, MD says “the novelty of social media as an emerging phenomenon is being replaced with lines of inquiry that take advantage of the principles of social media: open access, interconnectivity, asynchronous dialog, and crowdsourcing.”

We are now at a tipping point from the early adopters to the early majority, largely a function of a generational shift with early career educators promoting and modeling the professional use of social media – Jonathan Sherbino

Sherbino, an avid user of Twitter,  believes social media “allows an individual to participate in a richer community.”  He uses Twitter “as an aggregator to condense numerous online conversations relevant to health professions education into a single stream. He also says  he pays ” more attention to superusers (individuals or organizations with a personally vetted record of high-quality information) than any member within my network.”

Michael Berkwits, editor at The JAMA and JAMA Network also points to social media’s curatorial capabilities.

“Social media allows publishers to distribute information to readers in the workflow and spaces they are already using. With innumerable options, most people direct-access only a handful of website homepages and instead use social media platforms as a way to curate “tables of contents” of people, interests, and sources they want to keep up with – Michael Berkwits

Carley uses personal learning networks, curation sites, and apps to help him track and collate useful content.

I have developed a personal learning network of individuals who collate and curate special interest areas. You cannot follow everyone, so find and follow the high return, high-quality individuals or sites that filter content for you. I also follow sites that act as clearing houses for social media content, which create a weekly digest and e-mail it to your inbox – Simon Carley

Social media is an important mechanism for communicating about science with the public. As Haymond points out, “Despite the tremendous benefits, including free access and wide distribution of information, the quality of online scientific information
is variable.”

Stephen Smith, Professor of Emergency Medicine, is firm that medical professionals should be more discriminating about what they choose to post online.

Because there is so much information, we should try to limit what we post to only those things that are both important and accurate, to the best of our knowledge. We should not be posting things for our own ego, to be able to say how many followers one has, or how many posts one has put up – Stephen Smith

When it comes to risks, Sherbino points to trolling, Smith to patient identification, and Haymond to the risk of posting misleading or inaccurate information. Carley considers that the “risks are overstated.”

The only difference is that social media shares your views with a wider audience. If you act inappropriately and unprofessional in real life, then more people will know it. Similarly, if you are a diligent clinician, researcher, and academic, then more people will find out – Simon Carley

The future of social media in medicine

Social media is changing the ways that patients interact with healthcare providers and the healthcare system. It is increasingly common for patients to use information technology to gain access to information and control their own healthcare.  Increased access to the Internet and mobile communication will bring public health information to many more people, more quickly and directly than at any time in history. Social media will widen access to those who may not easily access health information via traditional methods, such as younger people, ethnic minorities, and lower socioeconomic groups.

Social media is also changing the face of medical education. Sherbino goes so far as to state, “No longer are the giants of the field identified by their textbooks, citation rates, or leadership roles; rather, my residents and fellows are influenced by the scope of an educator’s social media brand.”

Carley quotes Rob Rogers, “we will change from those who give out knowledge to those who coordinate it. Social media will develop us all into “learning choreographers.”


The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards, Published May 22, 2018 as doi:10.1373/clinchem.2018.288225

Posted in #HCSM

Which Social Network Is The Right One For Your Medical Practice?

Are you using the right social media platform to maximize your online reach? Not all social media is created equal. Read on find out more about choosing the right platform to enhance your medical marketing activities.

Most small practice owners I’ve talked to find themselves overwhelmed by social media because they feel they need to be active on all platforms.  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.  Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere at once.  Every additional platform your practice is active on means additional time and effort required to engage on and create tailored content for that platform.

Before becoming active on a social network, try answering the following questions to help you choose the platform that is right for your practice.

1. Will this platform help me achieve my marketing goals?

Setting SMART goals to which you can align your social media activity is a good guarantee of online marketing success. If you can’t explain how a particular social channel will help you to achieve your goals, then it may not be the right fit for you.

Recommend Reading: How To Set SMART Goals For Your Healthcare Marketing

2. Is my target audience active on this platform?

Different platforms attract different audiences. There’s no point spending your time on a particular social network if your audience isn’t there. Look at existing data to learn where a specific demographic spends their time online. For instance, if you’re targeting a younger demographic (25 years and under), then you should consider using Snapchat.

For the female-focused market, Pinterest is a good choice, because of its significant reach among women; 42% of online women are Pinterest users. 34% of users are between the ages of 18 – 29 and 28% are between 30 – 49, which creates a wide demographic of women who can be reached on this platform.

With an average of 1.47 billion daily active users, Facebook is still the king of all social networking sites (though we might see this predominance changing soon), so this is the most logical network to start with.

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Most popular social networks worldwide as of October 2018, ranked by number of active users (in millions) Source: Statista

However, the catch with Facebook is over 80 million businesses have a presence on the network which makes it a crowded and competitive landscape. And with organic Facebook Reach estimated to currently be as low as 1–3%, succeeding on the platform is more difficult than ever.

Certainly, you should create a presence on  Facebook for your practice,  but be realistic in terms of what you can achieve there.  To succeed you will need to include paid strategies for a successful Facebook marketing plan. The good news is that Facebook advertising allows for a high level of targeting right down to age, interests, income levels, geographic location etc. to ensure your message is delivered to the exact audience type you are looking to attract.

Recommended Reading: 10 Tips To Create More Engaging Content For Your Medical Practice Facebook Page

Look beyond Facebook to the many online groups and fora where your patients are also congregating. For example, Quora 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.

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3. Which social networks are my competitors using?

Which social networks are your competitors using? Are they active on networks you aren’t? Use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify the social channels on which your competitors get the most shares. Chances are if these channels match your demographics and are working well for your competitors, they will work well for you also.

Recommended Reading: Six Tools To Help You Perform A Competitor Audit

4. Will this platform match the content I create?

If you want your content to do well on social media, you’ve got to be strategic about what you publish and where you publish it. You need to create content that aligns with your audience’s expectations on each social channel.

Identify how, when, and where your specific audience likes to engage with content. For example, Instagram is the best platform for reaching millennials and users there will expect high-quality graphics and videos. It’s a great way to connect visually with your audience.

Twitter, on the other hand, has the most diversity in terms of audience penetration and is the best network for real-time communication. Due to its interactive, in-the-moment nature, it will require more of a commitment of time to participate in online conversations and chats and remain visible in the fast-moving stream of tweets.

Consider creating more video content for YouTube.

It’s no secret that video content is booming across all businesses, including healthcare. People around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube’s content every single day.

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YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection. As a form of patient education and health promotion, YouTube has great potential but is currently an under-utilized platform for healthcare.

5. Can I integrate this platform with another similar one?

It’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every social network. There is a degree of reciprocity between certain platforms – for example, Facebook and Instagram – the key is to choose channels which integrate well with each other to create maximum impact.

6. Consider your existing resources

Do you have the skills or personnel to create the right content for the networks you’ve chosen? While it’s true, you don’t have to pay to sign up for a social media profile on most platforms, these days, the organic reach of most Facebook posts is less than three percent. Running a social presence now requires an investment of resources, both in terms of finances and time.

To Wrap Up

When choosing a social network always keep one eye on the bigger picture. Rather than being led by current trends, back up your decisions by aligning them with your goals and audience.

When assessing a platform ask yourself if it is the right fit for what you are trying to do and for whom you want to reach.  Faris K. Timimi, MD, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) and a practicing cardiologist in Rochester, Minnesota, advises physicians to “look at the demographics and the nature of the platform, the content of what you are putting out there, and what are the characteristics and how does it fit.”

My final piece of advice is to master one social network well before adding another to your strategy.  Regularly review what’s working and what’s not. After a period of say six months, ask yourself this platform is still working for you. If it, then focus on improving your reach on it.  If it’s not working, consider whether it’s worth investing any more time on. Remember you don’t have to be everywhere to make an impact.


 

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Posted in #HCSM

10 Smart Ways To Drive More Readers To Your Healthcare Blog

Blogs written by physicians, nurses, researchers, patients, and allied healthcare professionals add much to the richness and diversity of the online healthcare conversation.

But it’s not enough to write great content and hope that people will find it. You need to actively promote your blog to maximize opportunities for more people to find and learn from your content. In today’s post, I will share with you 10 tried and tested ways guaranteed to drive more traffic and increase engagement on your healthcare blog.

1. Tailor Your Content To Your Audience’s Needs

Firstly, every piece of content that you create should have an intended audience. What kind of healthcare information are your patients looking for? What problems can your content solve for them? Focusing more clearly on your audience will help you to create content that will draw more readers to your blog. The key here is to really know your audience and their pain-points and write content that specifically answers their particular needs.

2. Hook Your Readers With An Irresistible Headline

If content is king, then the headline is queen. Your headline is the first impression you make on a prospective reader. A good headline frames your content. No matter how amazing your content is, few people are going to click through to read it if they’re not immediately captivated by your headline.

Recommended Reading: 7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

3.  Use Keywords Strategically

It’s important to include keywords in your content if you want to rank higher for particular search terms and attract more readers to your blog. The Google Keyword Planner within Adwords is a useful tool to find ideas for content based on keyword search. Google also displays related search results at the bottom of the first page when you type in your Google search query. This is a super-helpful resource as it returns ideas that are relevant to your topic based on user interest and contextual words.

4. Create Evergreen Content

Evergreen content is the kind of content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers. A Moz case study defines evergreen posts as “content having a continued and sustained success” and also shows that evergreen posts can generate traffic years after their original publication. Some common evergreen formats include Lists, and How To’s.

5. Add Visual Appeal

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters
with visual content leading the way. When it comes to creating visual content, don’t be tempted to reach for the nearest stock image. These days there’s no excuse for using boring stock images. In this post, I share my best recommendations for sourcing images you can use for free to enhance your social media posts.

6. Maintain A Consistent Posting Schedule

To create and maintain interest with your audience you need to post consistently to stay in front of your audience’s eyes and keep growing. One of the best ways to do this is to create recurring content. Recurring content form hooks which keep readers interested in coming back to your site. Having specific days or times that you post content means followers will get into the habit of checking your social media to see if anything new has appeared. Examples could be creating a weekly round-up post on your blog.

7. Leverage Guest Blogging

Whether you invite a guest blogger to blog on your site, or you guest blog for someone else, guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to increase your blog’s traffic. Not only do you get the opportunity to build your authority and increase your visibility, you can also leverage the social following of your guest blogger when you mention them on social media.

8.  Drive More Traffic With Social Shares

By making it easy for visitors to your site to share your content, you increase the likelihood that they will take this action. When more people share your content, you increase the chance of driving more visitors to your blog. Make sure your social sharing buttons are clearly visible. Check out this advice on the best position to place share icons on a web page.

9. Send an e-Newsletter to Subscribers

Newsletters can help keep your content top of mind with readers and drive more traffic to your website. Consider sending an email digest of your most recent blog posts, or send a targeted email each time you publish new content.

10. Repurpose Your Existing Content

Repurposing content simply means taking one asset and reusing it somewhere else. By re-purposing content you have already written, you can expand the reach of your content and attract new audiences.  Identify your most popular content through your blog analytics tool and by using Google Analytics. You should aim to repurpose any content that consistently performs well.

These are just some of the ways in which you can drive more traffic to your website. Can you add more suggestions to this list?

Posted in #HCSM

Data Never Sleeps: Here’s What Happens In An Internet Minute (Infographic)

I never cease to be blown away by the sheer scale and acceleration of the Internet. The world is more connected than ever before.

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But just how much data is generated every minute? This fascinating infographic shows exactly how much data is created every single minute. From tweets to swipes, likes to shares, the digital world is exploding.

Stats At A Glance

  • 42,033,600,000 Facebook logins
  • 159,840,000,000 Google searches
  • 1,641,600,000,000 WhatsApp messages sent
  • 8,078,400,000,000 emails sent
Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

 

Posted in #HCSM

10 Tips To Create More Engaging Content For Your Medical Practice Facebook Page

Worldwide, there are over 2.23 billion monthly active Facebook users and 1.47 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily (Source: Facebook 07/25/18). Statistically speaking, Facebook is too big to ignore but when it comes to social media marketing, is it actually delivering the results you’d hope to see?

Over 80 million businesses have a presence on the social network which makes it a crowded and competitive landscape. And at a time when organic Facebook Reach is estimated to currently be as low as 1–3%, succeeding on the platform is more difficult than ever.

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If you’re struggling to make an impact on Facebook, then this article is for you. In it, I will share some best practice tips to help you increase your organic reach and boost engagement.

So let’s get started with Tip #1

1. Grab attention with a compelling visual

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters — with visual content leading the way.

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According to research by Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Facebook recommends each post you create should include some type of creative, like images, GIFs or videos.

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Make sure these creative assets are of high quality. Avoid using blurry images or videos or creative that doesn’t accurately reflect your brand or message. If you post any pictures of your patients, be sure to obtain their permission.

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.

2. Keep things simple

Facebook advises that “simple posts with clean creative are best at capturing an audience’s attention” and recommends the following tips:

· Keep your color scheme clean and consistent

· Include images that are recognizable

· Use minimal, concise and impactful text

3. Share a behind-the-scenes photo of your office

People love to see behind the scenes of your practice – so bring your camera to your next staff meeting, lunch or event. Sharing pictures of your employees (with their permission, of course) makes your practice so much more relatable.

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4. Post about cause awareness events

Whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month or Healthy Weight Week, there is a cause awareness month you can write about at least once a month.

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5. Create holiday-themed posts

Christmas, Hanukah, Thanksgiving — they all provide an opportunity to share holiday themed advice or send best wishes to your followers.  You could also join in fun holidays like National Donut Day. Check out this calendar to keep you right up to date with ideas.

6. Post news and updates from your practice

Are you rolling out a new program, product or service? Have you acquired a new piece of equipment that affords better care? Let your followers know about it. Patients will appreciate you keeping them informed.

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7. Share videos

Video has become the predominant way we consume information. The average video post generates 135% greater organic reach when compared to photo posts according to research from Social Bakers.

Here are some tips to use video more effectively on Facebook

8. Go Live

Facebook Live videos get three times the engagement of traditional videos shared on the platform and it draws 10 times as many comments as regular video. Facebook actively prioritizes live video by placing it at the top of the News Feed, as well as sending notifications to potentially interested audience members. Additionally, Facebook Live videos are archived on Facebook and can be viewed and shared after the live broadcast.

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Tips for going live (via AAP News)

  • Consider making a regular time for your show if you plan on frequent live videos.
  • Choose topics that will engage your audience and provide valuable education.
  • Tell viewers ahead of time when you are going live.
  • Greet your viewers and respond to their questions and comments by name.
  • Promote your live video on multiple social media platforms to increase engagement.
  • Be prepared. Create an outline of key points and questions.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection and no institutional firewall blocking your broadcast.

Recommended: Social Media Marketing: How To Master The Art Of Going Live

9. Create Facebook Stories

Facebook Stories — user-generated slideshows and video collections — are short (around 20-seconds) pieces of content created on your smartphone and available for up to 24 hours. After this time your story automatically deletes itself, although there is an option to save your content.

10. Post When Your Followers Are Online

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.

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Facebook makes it easy to find out your optimal posting times by navigating to the Insights Tab and selecting Posts. Here you will get data about when your Facebook Page fans are online for each day of the week.  Once you’ve determined your optimal posting times, make use of Facebook’s post scheduling feature to post at just the right time.

To Wrap Up

While I have focussed on increasing organic reach on Facebook, the reality is that Facebook is a pay-to-play environment now. You will need to include paid strategies for a successful Facebook marketing plan. Use organic content to analyze and test to see what works best with your audience. You can then use these insights for paid ads. Your top-performing posts are proven content. With the right ad targeting, these posts can continue to reach and engage more people.