Three Types of Social Media Content Your Hospital Needs

Over the years, I’ve had many successes and failures with engaging audiences on social media. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that three basic types of social media content (when well-written and accompanied by great photography) always perform well, earning likes, shares and comments galore.

Boost engagement on your social media channels by posting the following types of content:

  • Warm and Fuzzy. People want a hospital that’s friendly and compassionate. Show off your warm and fuzzy side through patient stories and photos, thanking donors or sharing stories from employees. Don’t make these posts about your marketing; keep the focus on the person doing the talking. People love a good story and love to see good things happening at hospitals.
  • Truly Helpful. With the gobs of bad health information on the internet these days, it’s vital for hospitals to share reliable, useful health information. Again, don’t make these posts about you; these posts are about truly helping your patients with a problem they are facing. Maybe you post a blog about how to manage chemo side effects; maybe you share a video of how to properly swaddle a baby. Find out what questions your patients are asking and give them the answers, free of overt advertising.
  • Behind the Scenes. People find the medical field fascinating, even when it is a little gross. Find ways to bring your followers behind the scenes. Share what music your surgeons listen to. Show them what the rods inside a broken arm look like. Explain exactly how small da Vinci robotic tools are and make a video of your surgeon painting someone’s nails with the machine. People want to feel included and like they’ve learned a secret.

This content stands out among the sea of wellness blogs, articles about various studies and announcements about new doctors or certifications. Remember, social media marketing is about writing what people want to hear, not about what you want to tell them.

10 Great Social Media Contributors Already at Your Hospital

If you’re the only person who works on social media at your hospital, you’re not alone. You may not realize it, but there are great social media contributors roaming your hospital halls.

To keep your social media fresh and buzzing, it’s important that you find the contributors scattered throughout your health system. Though the people who will make good contributors varies from hospital to hospital, these 10 people are good place to start to find great content:

  1. Key service line marketers. Social media should highlight the warm and fuzzy side of your key service lines. For instance, if your hospital is known for great cancer care, you need to connect with the cancer service line marketer to find inspiring patient (and staff!) stories that humanize your care.
  2. Volunteer director. People love to see other people doing good things. Your volunteer director may know of volunteers with special stories or help you get pictures of volunteers in action. If your volunteers include pet therapy dogs, then you definitely need pictures of those volunteers.
  3.  Director of development/fundraising/your foundation. If you have a large fundraising event coming up, let people know. Stay close with the person in charge of fundraising to find ways to promote upcoming events or highlight donors.
  4. Community outreach coordinator. Your community outreach coordinator knows how your hospital is involved in the community. Try to get pictures from community events, promote the events and share tips from community education classes.
  5. Diabetes educator/dietitian. People love great advice about living well. Your diabetes educator or dietitian has a treasure trove of great advice and recipes you can turn into infographics, blogs and more.
  6. Athletic trainer/physical therapist. The other key aspect of living well is moving well. Ask your athletic trainers or physical therapists for exercise-related topics for your blog and Facebook posts, whether it is quick and easy exercise, stretches to relieve pain or tips on improving running technique.
  7. Director of nursing. Nurses work hard; give them some love! Your director of nursing can help you tell a nurse’s story every month, congratulate Daisy award winners or feature photos from department events. Your employees will love being recognized online and be more likely to follow you on social media.
  8. Doctors who volunteer. Many doctors are too busy to contribute to social media, but you can always ask if any of them are interested in helping out. If a few respond yes, work with them to come up with ways they can help you create content.
  9. Your chaplains/social workers. Your chaplains and social workers understand better than anyone the stress your patients are facing. They can help you write blogs about handling hospitalization and be on the lookout for inspiring stories. If you are a religious hospital, you may also want your chaplain to contribute prayers or Bible verses.
  10. Your medical school marketing department. If your hospital is partnered with a medical school, work with their marketing department to highlight students and residents in your facility.

After you get the help of the 10 people above, your job will be a lot easier! You’ll also find that your social media channels are more active and engaging.

Need help with social media training or content? Let me know!

Pokemon Go and How Hospitals Can Jump on Trends

Do you have Pokemon in your hospital? A Poke Stop nearby?

If you haven’t checked, you should. Don’t be afraid to capitalize on the latest trend sweeping social media this week, like Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters:

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It’s not often that hospitals can join in on the latest trending topics, but it’s extremely beneficial to your online following to find creative ways to discuss hot topics.

You’ve still got a little time to get in on the Pokemon Go trend. Try out these tactics to get some love from both media and social media:

  1. Write a blog with your top ten safety tips for playing Pokemon Go.
  2. Pitch a story to the media about how Pokemon Go could be good for fighting childhood obesity.
  3. Show how Pokemon Go is helping patients in your hospital get out of bed after surgery (may be more applicable to children’s hospitals).
  4. Post a photo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. of Pokemon outside your hospital (Don’t forget a disclaimer about how trainers need to stay out of secured areas!)

What you learn and gain from jumping on this trend could help you when the next challenge, video game or movie comes out and creates a big buzz.

Need help creating engaging social media content? Send me a message!

Top Tips for Patient Interviews

I’ll admit it: patient interviews make me nervous.

Even more nervous than interviewing that very busy, very important neurosurgeon or the no-nonsense nurse who just sticks to the facts.

When you interview a patient, you are an extension of her care. You must be just as kind, patient and respectful as all of her caregivers. Plus, you’ve got to find a way to get great quotes even though most people don’t speak in quotable sentences.

While handwritten notes vs. audio recording vs. typing up an interview is a matter of personal preference, I find that these tips help any interview go smoothly, provide the patient with great service and still give me an amazing story.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. If possible, talk to the doctor and/or nurse first and get the full story, including the medical details that patients forget. Write questions ahead of time for parts that you want to focus on with the patient. Sometimes you’ll know the answers to your questions, but you need them in a nice quote in the patient’s voice.
  • Pick a comfortable place. If possible, I like to interview people in person, somewhere private where they are comfortable, such as in their home or at the hospital or doctor’s office. If you have to do it over the phone, make the call at a time the patient chooses and from a place you won’t be disturbed.
  • Start with small talk. Introduce yourself in a warm, friendly way and let the patient do the same. Tell her upfront exactly how you’ll use her story and what to expect from the conversation. The more at ease she is with you, the more open she’ll be. Start with easy questions, “Are you having a good week? What do you do for a living? How’s your family?”
  • Let her tell it. After she is comfortable, simply ask her to tell you the story from the beginning. Every patient has her own interpretation of her story. She may leave certain parts out because she’s embarrassed or because it’s too painful to remember. Don’t push her to recall those parts of her story if she seems uncomfortable. Remember, you’re being kind and respectful. You aren’t a reporter looking for a scoop.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let her get through her story first. Write questions down as you go and circle back after she’s finished. You can definitely make conversational noises (“Yes,” “uh-huh,” “no way!”) and empathize, but don’t make her stop the flow of her own story. The longer people talk, the more detailed and open they’ll get. Interrupting may be off-putting, costing you great quotes you otherwise would have gotten.
  • Avoid yes or no questions. “Yes” is never a good quote. Instead of asking, “Did it hurt after your surgery?” ask, “How did you feel after your surgery?” Let her run with her answer. If you want more, be quiet for a second, and it’s likely she’ll share more. If not, ask a follow-up, “How did your nurses help you? How did your doctor help you?”

My very last tip for patient interviews is to sincerely thank the patient – repeatedly. She didn’t have to take the time to talk to you. She didn’t have to share her story, but she did. For that she deserves a thank-you note or email!

Want to add compelling patient stories to your marketing? Contact me for details on how I can help.

 

How Your Hospital Can Succeed on Pinterest

Pinterest is teeming with terrible health advice, from over-restrictive diets to claims that certain herbs can cure cancer. Health systems on Pinterest can go a long way in setting the record straight and providing reliable help to people looking to improve their health.

So how can your hospital have an active, engaging presence on Pinterest?

  1. Great graphics. Pinterest is the king of graphic content. Don’t just slap stock photos online; considering adding text or filters to your photos, creating a collage, making infographics or at the very least ensuring you have beautiful photography. Try Canva or PicMonkey for help if your designer(s) is swamped with work.
  1. Clear organization. Be specific in your boards. This helps people pick which boards they want to follow and gives them a clear idea of what to expect.
  1. Focus on lifestyle. Food and fitness advice go far on Pinterest. You can also focus on improving lifestyles for people with specific health concerns, such as pregnancy or chronic conditions that require lifestyle changes (Crohn’s, Celiac disease, diabetes) and offer help tailored to people with these conditions.
  1. Don’t be afraid to Repin. Or “Save” as it’s called now. You can save content from other reliable sources (Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society, etc.) to your boards. That’s how Pinterest works. It may help attract new followers to your boards, even if it doesn’t immediately push people to your content.
  1. Try Promoted Pins. If you’re new to Pinterest, you can also try Promoted Pins to start boosting your number of followers. Promoted Pins are fairly inexpensive and can be very effective at getting people to your content. For the best results, pick a Pin that is already popular and give it a boost.

Not sure where to start on Pinterest? Give me a shout.

The Photography Sources Your Hospital Isn’t Using (But Should!)

All social networking sites, from Pinterest to Facebook to Twitter, are demanding more and more visual content. According to market research published in 2014, photos have an 87 percent interaction rate on Facebook, while the next most popular posts (links) only get a 4 percent interaction rate.

For hospitals on strapped budgets, it may be difficult to find the visual content you need to keep up and maintain an active, engaging online presence. Lucky for you, there may be a few sources of untapped content you aren’t using yet.

  1. Your smartphone. A good Instagram filter and the latest phone models can make some pretty gorgeous photos. Keep HIPAA consents with you at all times so that if you come across a great photo or moment in your hospital, you are ready to go.
  2. Historical photos. Celebrate Throwback Thursday by scanning in old, interesting pictures of your hospital.
  3. Your print materials. Someone at some point has paid for the stock photography in your print materials. Collect all those images up and use them where you can on your website and blog. Consider adding text or filters using free sites like Canva or PicMonkey to make them more social media friendly.
  4. Your employees. Not in your facility of course! Employees should decidedly NOT take pictures while at work. However, when your NICU participates in the March of Dimes or your hospital hosts a booth at a health fair, encourage and empower employees to take photos of these local events. They help show that you are part of your community.
  5. Your department amateur photographer. Nearly every marketing department has a designer or writer who loves to take photos. Consider paying for them to take photography classes and equipping them with a department-owned quality camera. Your investment just might pay off.

Need help running your social media channels? Give me a shout for help on social media strategy and content.

My Top Sources of Free Health Stock Photography

Need some good stock photography for your website or blog, but don’t have the budget to buy dozens of pictures from iStock? Check out these great sites I use all the time for FREE stock photography (you’ll probably see some of the photos I use on my blog!).

CDC Public Health Image Library. The CDC has made thousands of images online free. Everything from historical health photos to nutrition topics, from fitness to flu, you can find a lot of photos on this site (though quality can vary).

US Government Photo Libraries. While you’re at it, check out other great photos from the US Government. These can help out when you have something specific, like needing a fireworks photo for Fourth of July or a picture of a riptide for an ocean safety blog, but may not be useful to you every day.

Foodiesfeed. Got a blog about a nutrition topic? This site has beautiful pictures of all sorts of food, healthy and unhealthy alike.

ISO Republic. These beautiful free photos cover a range of subjects, from food to technology to commuters. Sometimes you get lucky and find just the right photo. Sometimes you don’t.

Picjumbo. Similar to ISO Republic, this site has a wide variety of pictures. It may take a bit of digging, but they probably have what you need.

Have the photos you need, but not the words? Give me a buzz so I can help you develop great content.

7 Ways to Reuse A Blog to Save Money and Time

Many hospital marketing departments are short-staffed and overstretched, leaving you with little time to come up with all of the content that your website and social media channels need. Fortunately, one well-written blog post can do most of the work for you.

Save money (and time) by reusing your blog posts for these other content sources:

  • Tweets. Pull out sentences from your blog for a week’s worth of tweets.
  • Facebook posts. Share your blog on Facebook or separate it up into different factoids to supply multiple posts.
  • Press release. Is your blog topic newsy? Add some quotes from physicians (if they aren’t already there) and send it out to the media to see if you can pick up a health story on the six o’clock news.
  • Infographic. Shorten your blog up and get it to a great graphic designer to turn into an attractive and easy-to-read infographic. They are perfect for Pinterest.
  • Educational handout. Do your patients prefer handouts? Put your educational blog into a flyer template and have it in your offices for patients to pick up.
  • E-Newsletters. Fill your e-newsletter with content from your blog. You’ll find it is much easier to stick to your mailing schedule.
  • Editorials. In smaller communities, many newspaper editors love some input from local doctors and hospitals. If you have a timely blog, say one to do with a recent news story or a health observance that month, send it in as an editorial to your local newspaper.

Well-written blogs are extremely valuable to hospitals, powering both traditional and digital communications efforts. I’d love to help your hospital blog succeed. Contact me today to learn more about my blog writing services.

Write What Your Patients Want to Hear

You do everything right with your blog; you update frequently, you quote doctors, you promote your blogs on every social media channel known to man, but still your traffic is slow. Before you pay for that boosted post, really take a look at your content. Are you writing what your patients want to hear or are you writing what you want to tell them?

Traditional marketing has all revolved around telling people what you want them to know (We have a new doctor! We’re holding an event!), but social media marketing and blogging demands that you create content that people are looking for.

You can find out what your patients might want to hear by doing some quick (and free!) research.

  1. Hop over to Google Analytics and check out which pages are most popular on your website. Write about these topics.
  2. Head to YouTube. Which of your videos are most popular? Which of your competitor’s videos are most popular? What about industry leaders? Make a list of topics related to these frequently searched subjects.
  3. Check your Facebook. What posts do the best?
  4. Ask your followers on social media. Why not crowdsource blog ideas? You’ll have a better understanding of what your followers want to hear about.
  5. Ask your healthcare providers what questions patients ask most often. Your doctors and advanced care providers know best what patients want to know and are confused about. Answer the frequently asked questions your doctors hear.

Also consider writing blogs that are tailored to the audiences of popular programs at your hospital. If you have an autism clinic, write a blog series about parenting children with autism. If you have a robust cancer program, write blogs with tips on how to handle chemotherapy side effects. Let your patients know these blogs are online to help them, and you’ll have an audience from your very own waiting rooms.

Running short on time to write blogs? Tag me in to help with your blog writing needs.

What Your Hospital Can Learn from the HONY Memorial Sloan-Kettering Posts

 If you haven’t seen the beautiful photography and heart-wrenching stories from Memorial Sloan-Kettering on Humans of New York’s Facebook page, do yourself a favor and go check them out now. I’ll wait.

Now that you’ve cleared the tears from your eyes, it’s time to take a look at how your hospital can learn from the success of these posts and find new ways to connect with your patients and community online.

Besides benefiting from HONY’s massive following, these posts succeed because of:

  1. Gorgeous photography. It can’t be said enough. Beautiful, original photography does extremely well online, receiving more likes, views and shares than any other type of post. If you don’t have a lot of photography of your hospital, it’s time to bring a professional in.
  2. Truthful storytelling. Social media marketing is not so much about claims, but stories. The stories of doctors, nurses, administrators and families in HONY’s posts are honest and touching. They seem unedited by a marketing team. Consider letting your hospital show all aspects of care. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes treatment is really hard. Don’t shy away from these truths.
  3. Doctor involvement. Your doctors need to be engaged in your marketing, period. Show off their humanity. They aren’t just robots writing prescriptions and removing gallbladders. They got into medicine to help people; tap into this altruism and let it shine.
  4. Short posts. Sure, you can write a 900 word patient story, but a great photograph and a quick paragraph or two can be read quickly and often jumps out at people from their newsfeed. Consider breaking up your patient stories (even those you already have) into easily-digestible posts to boost engagement and promote your services.

Need help writing a patient story or managing your social media? Contact me and let me see what I can do to help!