Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Google Alerts

I love learning about new tools to make social media marketing more creative and effective, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools with you at the start of each week. This week’s cool tool recommendation is Google Alerts

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, blogs) based on your choice of query –  for example, keeping updated on emerging healthcare trends.

Start by going to the Google Alerts homepage and entering your keyword. Click on “Show options” to set an alert frequency and any other parameters you’re interested in. If you put the keywords in quotation marks, you will only receive alerts for that exact phrase – thus avoiding Google returning irrelevant results to you.

google-alerts-screenshot.png

You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.

Use Google Alerts to monitor who’s talking about your brand. This is important so you can respond to any criticism, customer complaints or thank someone for writing something positive about you.

Posted in #HCSM

4 Essential Steps to Healthcare Social Media Marketing Success

Crowd Clip ArtAs the Internet increasingly becomes the medium of choice for researching health information, social media has become an important channel for healthcare marketing.  In today’s social media-connected, content marketing rich environment, healthcare marketeers who are not using social media as part of their strategy are missing out.  In today’s post,  I will outline the four essential steps required for successful healthcare  social media marketing.

The first step is to gain a clearer image of who your audience is and what they are saying about you. Only then will you be able to create compelling, relevant and valuable content to fuel the social media engine.

(1) Identify and segment your online audience

Your healthcare marketing efforts will be much stronger if you can identify your target market and segment it so that you can tailor your content more specifically for them. Unless you take this first step, your social media marketing activities will remain unfocused. If you can clearly identify your target market, then you can plan the best combination of email marketing, social networking strategies, SEO, Pay Per Click, Banner ads, etc. You are looking to drill down deeper to discover their geographic location, their gender, level of education, family status, which social media sites they use, what conversations they are having online, how they are engaging with you, your competition and your online partners.

(2) Plan your social and digital media channels

Armed with this information you will now be able to plan which social media channels are most suited to your target market and direct your efforts accordingly. For example, if you identify that your audience is predominately female, you might direct some of your healthcare marketing efforts to Pinterest, a site whose rapid growth and success has been driven by women.

(3) Join in the online conversation

There is a support and community group for just about any medical condition or interest online.  To further expand their reach and focus on patient care, these groups need the input of qualified healthcare practitioners to help validate the information discussed on their sites and to ensure balanced views that are in the best interest of patients. Participating in these communities by providing advice, educational podcasts, guest contributions to widely read blogs and websites can help you broadcast your brand and build your reputation, while providing valuable support to the group.

(4) Monitor your online reputation

Consistency, credibility and connection are the cornerstones of maintaining your healthcare brand’s integrity.  It is important to listen to what is being said about your brand, not just to know what is going on and whether you are receiving any negative publicity or comments that need to be addressed, but also to know what you are doing right, so that you can do more of it. At a minimum keep an eye on tweets, comments and messages on your Twitter, blog and Facebook accounts. You should also set up Google Alerts for your brand and industry.

There’s no question that social media is growing in importance in the healthcare field and it is no longer an optional marketing strategy.  The conversation is happening online with or without you, so for the sake of your healthcare brand, join it!

Posted in #HCSM, Marketing

Will Google Kill Off Alerts?

hes dead jim macroThere has been no official announcement yet, but the signs are ominous. Following last month’s decision to kill off Google Reader, it seems Google Alert’s days may also be numbered.

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, blogs) based on your choice of query –  for example, keeping updated on emerging healthcare trends. You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.

I have certainly noticed less frequent Google Alerts emails in my inbox over the past few months and while this has bothered me less now that I keep up with healthcare industry news via content curation sites such as Scoop.it , it is nevertheless a loss when it comes to using the service as a free brand or term monitoring tool.

So what are the alternatives to Google Reader?

Whilst Feedly proved a good alternative to Google Reader,  no strong viable alternatives to Google Alerts at the same price (i.e. free) have emerged so far as contenders.  For now, I  have decided to trial Social Mention which tracks blogs, blog comments, Twitter, mainstream news, images, video, and audio.  The service promises free daily email alerts of your brand, company or marketing campaign.  Unfortunately when I signed up for an alert with Social Mention today this is the message I received:

social mention

So I will have to wait a while longer to see how it performs as a daily alert service. In the meantime, I will continue to use Twitter hashtags, Twitter search, scoop.it and newsle.

Do you currently use Google Alerts? Will you miss the service if it is retired by Google? Or have you found a viable alternative which you would recommend?