September 25, 2012
Pinterest makes it easier than ever to educate and engage patients with your online data through a visual experience. Harness the power of visual storytelling for your community hospital with these five simple steps.
- As with all your other hospital social media accounts, know your marketing and SEO strategy. The same principles apply to Pinterest:
- Don’t be blatantly promotional.
- Become a credible resource.
- Remain transparent about your services.
- Be intentional – engage and interact.
2. Utilize Your Pinterest Profile.
- Include your other social networks on your Pinterest profile. Choose “Login with Facebook” or “Login with Twitter” to add these links to your profile.
- Add healthcare keywords to your “About” section, and include your website.
3. Pin with Intention.
- Avoid pinning content from only your own website or blog. The key idea is to share more external content than internal content. Follow an 80/20 or 70/30 percent rule: the majority of your pins should come from other credible health resources, and the smaller percent should be internal content.
Check out this article on Pinterest best practices >>
- Use creative titles and compelling images. Pinterest is entirely visually based, so it’s essential to have relevant, quality images. Keep your descriptions concise. The focus is on the image, not on the text that accompanies it.
- Provide specific links. Do not direct your followers to unspecified links or pages with no archiving features. Link to specific blog posts or specific pages within websites. Maintain your hospital’s professionalism by checking all links before re-pinning an item.
- Create boards (collections of pins) for certain service lines and topics. Organize your pins’ content by subject, and recommend relevant boards as resources to patients. For example, create boards for cancer support, parenting, women’s health, exercise, healthy recipes, etc.
- Always credit your sources. If you are pinning content from another hospital or healthcare site, include the credited company or website in the description.
4. Make Your Pins Easier to Find.
- Use relevant titles and descriptions. Your pins will show up better when users search various topics if you’ve labeled them appropriately.
- Add hashtags: Use hashtags to link to related topics. For example, if you have added #HealthyRecipes in your pin description, users may click #HealthyRecipes to find other pins with the same tag.
- Align yourself with credible pinboards. Follow other hospitals and healthcare groups, and when they offer insightful information, re-pin their posts! For ideas, check out these successful healthcare pinners.
- Link to people: Just like with Facebook or Twitter, you can link to other Pinterest users by typing “@” followed by a Pinterest username.
- “Follow” your community members. Promote other users’ pins to enhance your board. Show interest in the community members that follow you. Follow some of their boards or “like” some of their pins. Interaction is a two-way stream.
September 25, 2012
According to Pinterest’s mission statement, “With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” Healthcare and hospital services fall into such shared interests. Pinterest users are looking for healthcare tips, resources and answers. It’s time for your community hospital to jump on the bandwagon and say “yes” to Pinterest!
- Why Use Pinterest?
- Pinterest’s number of users has been rapidly growing. It has become the third most popular social network in the U.S. in terms of traffic.
- It’s free. To set up an account for your community hospital, click here.
- Pinterest does not have the same real-time urgency as other social networks. Though pins are “time-stamped,” they do not become irrelevant or outdated as quickly as Twitter “tweets” or Facebook posts.
- Pinterest centers on content engagement rather than user engagement. There is no pressure to post regular, witty comments or responses. Your followers do not expect personal interactions but instead anticipate content flow – pins and re-pins of interesting articles and resources.
- It’s a way to reach out to a certain demographic. With its visual appeal and more ambiguous user interactions, Pinterest has attracted a different audience than Facebook and Twitter.
- Who Uses Pinterest?
- Pinterest is a female-dominated social network ““ over two-thirds of users are female.
- The majority of users are middle class women between ages 25 and 34, but Pinterest also has a growing middle-aged following.
- Check out these 10 Pinterest infographics for more fun facts >>
- Successful Pinterest Users in Healthcare
- Cleveland Clinic
- Cleveland Clinic has tons of organized boards ranging from health facts to recipes to specific service lines.
- The only downside is nearly all the links are internal, linking to Cleveland Clinic’s website. It’s best practice to use external links to related sites.
- MD Anderson
- MD Anderson has a variety of resource pins, some of which link to external websites.
- Ragan’s Health Care News
- Ragan’s Health Care Communications News’ Pinterest account advertises itself as “your one-stop shop for health care communication news and training.” It has made itself a resource for other users.
- Though these are primarily all internal links, Ragan’s posts pull from and cite other websites, making it more acceptable.
August 21, 2012
In today’s internet-driven world, blogs connect your community hospital with the online healthcare community. Establish a plan and your niche to expand your hospital’s presence on the web.
- What is your overall plan?
- Who is your niche audience?
- What are your goals?
The answers to these questions will help tailor your team’s efforts to one common goal. With 59 percent of Americans now looking online for medical information*, it’s crucial to make your hospital’s knowledge, specialties and resources available on the web.
Establish a Niche
Though blogs are a cheap, simple way to present lots of data and information online, an effective blog is written with intention. Defining a clear target audience for your hospital’s blog(s) is just as important as in traditional forms of marketing. Once you determine who you are writing for, you can write on topics relevant to that audience.
Niche blogging narrows the focus of your message and allows you to connect on a deeper level. For example, your blog could focus on life after cancer, the struggles of parenthood or the challenges of running a hospital. Can’t decide on one audience or topic? Consider creating multiple blogs – just be sure you have the time and material to maintain them all.
Drive Traffic and Generate Discussion
Blogs are a great way to direct traffic to your community hospital’s website and social media accounts. Make these links prominent on your blog. This will establish and interlink your community hospital’s web presence. Individuals who would not have otherwise stumbled upon your hospital site may be driven there by a compelling blog post. Enable comments on your blog posts to encourage discussions. Remember that healthcare is a personal business, and you must connect on a personal level. Interacting with potential staff, patients or members of the healthcare community can boost your hospital’s brand and reputation.
* Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, Aug. 9 – Sept. 13, 2010 Survey. N=3001 adults; margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.
Take a closer look at Facebook’s image-driven format. Learn about the new “mission control” Timeline appearance and how to make the most of your updated community hospital fan page.
1. The Face of Your Brand ““ The Huge Cover Photo
We know that people are drawn to photos. With the huge cover photo layout and the larger photo wall posting, it’s likely that images will pack the punch of your community Facebook page. Check out these innovative ideas for formatting your cover photo.
Tip: Make your hospital logo your profile picture, and then find a large cover photo for a more creative representation of your hospital or a photo that drives a message to a hospital campaign. Use the two images to create a cohesive brand.
- No sales ““ The cover photo can’t offer information on discounts and prices.
- No calls to action ““ The cover photo can’t tell people to “like” or share your page.
- No contact information ““ The cover photo can’t include any contact information, such as website address, mailing address or phone number.
2. Top of the Page ““ No Default Landing Pages, Updated Tabs
The photo strip at the top of the page has been replaced by a more condensed overview of your photos, videos and applications. We loved making landing pages to boost “likes” for hospitals, but now those pages aren’t a possibility. Tabs are now displayed in these application “blocks” located just below your cover photo; you will no longer be able to set a tab as the default landing page.
- “About” is prominent: The “about” section now sits just below your profile image. This should be a one to two sentence blurb offering a quick overview of your hospital’s identity. This is one of the first items a visitor will see, so keep your “about” section up-to-date and engaging.
- Be intentional about tabs: The first four application blocks (your old tab bars) will display by default, but you can keep up to 12 visible to the public. Be intentional about prioritizing your content ““ keep your engaging photos, video applications or hospital resources visible at the top.
Tip: Be creative. What type of content will you share to introduce your page to new users? Is there a promotional contest you can run to grab “likes” and engage with new users? Can you think of interesting ways to cross-promote your Facebook page, such as on your blog, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or your hospital website?
3. The Facebook Timeline – A Visual Story
Yes! I love this feature. “Stories” or posts will feed into the two-column timeline, alternating across either side of your page to fill the space. Photos are the focus ““ they really drive this new format.
See the tips below to learn how to highlight important stories in your Timeline. These “stories” humanize your hospital by showing your achievements and allowing your community to celebrate with you.
- Friend activity will now be featured in the top of the right column, customizing to each visitor to show his or her friends’ “likes” and interactions with your page.
- Starring: Highlight notable stories by starring them. This will make the story span the full, two-column width of the Timeline.
- Pinning: Pin important stories. When you “pin” a post, Facebook adds an orange flag to it and pulls it to the top of your Timeline for seven days. Showcase important events and information.
- Setting Milestones: Define key moments using Milestones. Facebook allows you to set key events or dates within your Timeline that mark history in the life of your hospital. Further your hospital’s story by setting milestones for changes in leadership, openings of various wards or developments in procedures and research.
For a more detailed breakdown of Facebook Timeline, check out Beth McCabe’s Facebook Timeline for brands.
4. Private Messages Between Brands and Users
Your hospital will now be able to send and receive private messages from visitors to your Facebook page. Use this as an opportunity to potentially move conversations and customer service complaints off your public wall. Do not ignore your messages.
Tip: Reserve time to check and respond to both positive and negative messages from your patients! I know from my seat, this is going to be a huge shift in how we interact with our Facebook community.
Keep your community hospital Facebook page ahead of the social media curve. Be intentional about your branding. Set your cover photo, update your “about” section and determine your featured tabs/applications.
February 29, 2012
Pinterest, the latest social media trend, sets itself apart with strong visual components. This innovative platform encourages the sharing of links, videos and ideas through picture-dominated posts. Learn more about 2012′s “hottest startup” and what it means for your community hospital.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” that allows users to create “boards” where they “pin” items to share. The focus is visual — the sticky-note sized blocks that users can “pin” are filled almost entirely by a photo.
Who is using Pinterest?
The number of users has been drastically increasing over the last year to bring Pinterest to an average of 1.36 million users daily. In fact, users spend more time, on average, on Pinterest than on Facebook.
- In the U.S., females dominate Pinterest, making up 68.2 percent of users.
- Half of the users have children.
- The highest percentage of users are aged between 25 and 34.
- For a complete breakdown of Pinterest users, check out this great infographic from Mashable.
What is Pinterest for?
Pinterest is used for sharing everything from personal pictures and videos to recipes, craft ideas, DIY projects, the latest outfits and styles and many other resources. Users can create their own custom pinboards, so the possibilities are endless.
Why should hospitals use Pinterest?
- To set yourself apart. Very few hospitals are using this new platform, so it is an opportunity to differentiate your hospital and remain on the cutting edge of social media.
- To connect with your community. Pinterest enables your hospital to connect to your community in a unique and visually compelling way.
Consider the Pinterest audience — mostly upper-income women, who are also typically the ones making the healthcare decisions in American households. Healthcare communicators should get involved with Pinterest because its primary users — young women and mothers — fit your target demographic. Marketing your hospital on Pinterest will increase your reach.
- To generate referral traffic. According to Patricia Redsicker’s blog, Pinterest generates more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Drive users to your site by utilizing strong images.
How should hospitals use Pinterest?
- Create boards based on your expertise. What are your hospital’s interests and specialties? Make boards for general things like parenting resources, healthy recipes and exercise tips or focus on your specializations. If your hospital has a reputable cardiovascular center, advertise your new equipment and quality doctors, “pin” articles on cardio care or offer health tips.
- Take advantage of visual content. Pinterest works most effectively if your brand has visually interesting elements such as pictures or videos tied to it. Experiment with visual resources that point to health books or YouTube videos. Image quality is key. The more compelling your image, the more likely users are to click on it.
- Promote your Pinterest boards. Use other social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, to promote your Pinterest boards. Feature a Pinterest board on your hospital website.
Healthcare examples on Pinterest
- Summit Medical Group of New Jersey has a board specifically for weekly videos that feature physicians speaking on topics like calcium scoring, carpal tunnel syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.
- Optimized Living shows devises and therapies that can improve one’s health. One board called “Cancer“ has slogans and images intended to inspire users.
February 27, 2012
Boost your community hospital’s Facebook presence by publishing interesting, informative posts. Encourage engagement by tailoring your status updates to fit your audience’s needs and interests. Keep your page alive by implementing these 10 post ideas.
- Stage a live Q&A on your wall with a healthcare expert. Patients rarely have the opportunity to directly ask a doctor questions about a condition or procedure before a hospital visit. Host a conversation on your community hospital page’s wall about a healthcare topic — cardiac arrest, cancer, health and nutrition, etc. — and have a doctor manage the conversation and answer questions. Giving your patients access to knowledge in such a personable way will increase patient trust.
- Create and stage polls. Use Facebook polls to easily gather relevant data about your community. Only poll information that would be valuable or interesting to your community. Use this data to develop programs or services within your hospital to fit your community’s needs. Ask about sleep, diet or exercise habits, family disease history or personal health fears and concerns.
- Highlight relevant research. Share current healthcare articles about new procedures, cures and equipment. Your community will appreciate easy access to up-to-date information, and may start viewing your Facebook page as a reliable resource.
- Post important business information. Use Facebook to promote your hospital as a business — post extended holiday hours or special deals and promotions. Celebrate new additions to your hospital staff or upcoming building improvements and renovations.
- Post event reminders. Include updates about time-sensitive events. Post last-minute changes due to inclement weather or speaker conflicts. Encourage your community to use Facebook to access the most current information about your events.
- Share a simple solution to a problem. Offer quick tips for soothing a sore throat, avoiding the flu or caring for a sprain. Again, your community will appreciate the convenient information.
- Impart interesting facts. Updates using “Did you know”¦?” are a great way to generate discussion. Share interesting health facts.
- Let your community peek behind the wall. Facebook pages are meant to show your company’s personality. Share hospital staff pictures or funny updates. Consider using Instagram as a way to immediately share pictures taken on your Smartphone.
- Feature a fan of the week. Do you have an especially engaged fan on your page? Acknowledge that individual by dedicating a post to him or her at the end of the week.
- Encourage opinions and/or questions. Remain open to suggestions. Debating a color scheme for your new ward or wondering what event to promote next month? Ask your community! Post questions and listen to your community’s responses.
For more ideas, check out Ragan’s Health Care Communication News post on 40 useful updates for your brand’s Facebook page.
February 6, 2012
Social media is pointless if you don’t have a plan. Whip your social media plan into shape with these ideas from Radian6. Apply these strategies to your community hospital and reap the rewards.
Social Strategy Musts
- Â Socialize your culture, not just your technology. Use social media as a two-way, true conversation to generate discussion and gather feedback from your patients and community.
- Encourage hospital staff to adapt the same approach ““ to listen to and value your patients.
- Focus on cultivating the long-term customer experience instead of merely generating a following. Build community by encouraging online engagement.
- Make a plan; write it down. Develop a concrete plan in the same manner you would for any other business process. Determine your audience, budget and social media outlets as well as your goals and intentions. Who are you targeting and what message are you trying to send? Ask the important questions and stick with the answers.
- Stick to the strategy. Don’t just aimlessly blog, tweet or post.
- Ask these questions as you write (and reread what you wrote):
- Is the topic interesting?
- Is it popular?
- Is it timely?
- What are other hospitals doing or writing about?
- Will you have enough content for the month?
- Do more. Beef up your content by dabbling in other media:
- Audio podcasts
- Video interviews
- Graphics and charts
- Be vigilant. Require team members who want to engage on behalf of your hospital to complete a certification program.
- Teach them your core principles, but also share your hospital’s vision. This will allow them to write in their own voice while staying true to the vision.
- Take time to monitor employees’ accounts to make sure they’re active and brand-compliant.
How to Be a Better Listener
- Pay attention to who is talking about your brand. Where are people talking about your hospital? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Blogs or newspaper forums? Watch what topics generate discussion, cause conflicts or create praise, and tweak your future interactions accordingly.
- Pay attention to the competition. Social media is a public forum. Spin that to your benefit by learning from other hospitals’ social media strategies. Do your competitors generate more community engagement? What are their patients and community members asking? Watch and learn.
- Listen for customer service opportunities. Identify issues as they emerge and respond in real time. Listen to and answer your patients’ questions and concerns.
- Respond gratefully to positive feedback.
- Respond professionally to negative feedback, and use it as an opportunity to learn, grow and change.
- Always reply promptly. Social media is about immediacy and real-time exchanges or the effects are lost.
How to Entertain and Engage (NOT Confuse and Enrage)
- Surprise and delight your fans. Entertain and engage your online community so they’re happy to be a part of it. Consider offering coupons or promotions for your online followers.
- Avoid common etiquette pitfalls. Radian6′s David B. Thomas lists a few:
- Being pushy
- Engaging and then ignoring
- Not keeping your comment house in order
- Sounding like a robot
- Deal graciously with detractors. Handling critics is one of the hardest parts of maintaining a social media presence. See Radian6′s 10 Tips for Dealing with Detractors, which include deciding whether the item warrants a response, acknowledging the issue and saying thank you.
October 25, 2011
Reconnect, recharge and get inspired with fellow healthcare marketers at the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CHPRMS) Fall 2011 Conference! Hear what CHPRMS President Margaret Gregory has to say about the conference.
|CHPRMS President Margaret Gregory|
Margaret Gregory, Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CHPRMS) president and Piedmont Medical Center senior director of marketing and public relations, knows just how busy healthcare marketers are. That’s exactly why you need to attend the CHPRMS annual fall conference, Dec. 7-9, in Asheville.
In a recent podcast interview, Gregory admitted that keeping current on industry trends, tips and networking is challenging given all that healthcare marketers juggle. “Just like the industry we’re marketing, medicine, is always changing and always on the cutting edge, marketing and public relations is also always on the cutting edge,” Gregory said. “There are so many new things to learn, so if you don’t stay up-to-date with this you’re not going to be able to provide the best ability that you can back to the organization you’re representing.”
She added, “It’s key for people to understand that you constantly have to learn and grow ““ and this conference certainly offers that opportunity to everyone.”
Hot topics this year include writing for the web; optimizing search engines, meta tags and geo-targeting; marketing physician practices; and successfully targeting consumers in this still-uncertain economy.
“If everyone can walk away with some key, very specific things that they can take back to their organization and immediately put into place that will help them do their jobs better ““ that’s the goal for this conference,” Gregory explained.
Listen to the full interview below, and don’t forget to register for the fall conference.
Listen to the Interview:
October 18, 2011
When your community hospital has a class, service or event targeting a certain demographic, it’s most effective to likewise tailor your advertising efforts. Learn how one community hospital used Facebook to do just that.
Rowan Regional Medical Center (RRMC), of Salisbury, NC, sponsored a “Ladies’ Night Out” event as an opportunity for local women to get to know their community hospital and physician practices while enjoying food, shopping and entertainment from local vendors.
Use our three simple steps for creating targeted online ads to follow the process as RRMC developed its successful advertising campaign:
- Determine your audience: This event was intended for local, adult women searching for healthcare.
- Choose an online venue that complements your needs:
- With more than 750 million active users, Facebook is one of the most popular sites for nearly every demographic. Its top users are ages 18 to 34.
Facebook, with its wide appeal to adult women and its easy-to-create ads, was the perfect choice for this event.
Design your art: ABZ Design helped RRMC create a simple ad for Facebook, targeted to women ages 21 and older living within 10 miles of the hospital.
The Facebook advertising campaign generated 947 click thrus to a webpage about the event. “Ladies’ Night Out” was a great success, and it received rave reviews and nearly 400 attendees. The hospital succeeded in engaging the community, as many of the attendees scheduled mammograms or signed up for exercise classes. The hospital also raised money for the local United Way chapter.
Facebook is constantly changing, adding features and growing. Keep informed about the changing Facebook landscape and know your audience to determine if a Facebook ad campaign is right for your hospital.
October 11, 2011
Physician practice websites will increase your community hospital practice’s visibility, build its reputation in the community and give your marketing budget the most value for every dollar spent.
The Internet is an absolutely essential tool for physician practices. I am amazed at how many rural practices that I talk to who have virtually no web presence.
Online Healthcare Empowers Consumers. Your practices need websites to acquire patients in an increasingly tech-savvy world.
In order to build a bridge between healthcare providers and patients, a website must also project the right image to your target audience. The appearance of the practice website and the information it presents greatly impact your visitors’ first impressions of your services. Their initial perceptions are completely in your control. How do you want your practice to be seen to the public? As reliable, modern and informed? As friendly, warm and welcoming? Build your site to reflect your practice.
As healthcare marketers, we talk a lot about mobile and social media campaigns, QR codes and email communication. None of these are effective if we have no coherent destination or website to which we can direct patients.
Developing your practice website is the first and most effective form of communication today!
Essential website content:
- A short description of your practice and specialties
- Physician biographies and certifications
- Personalized facilities and staff photos
- Explanations of procedures and services
- Before-and-after case studies showcasing your skills
- Hospital affiliations
- Office hours, office policies and accepted insurance plans
- Directions and maps to the practice
- Patient education articles
Getting ahead of the competition:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social media integration
- EMR patient portal
- Physician videos
- Electronic patient forms
- Interactive maps and driving directions
- Patient education videos
Successful Practice Websites:
- Desert Institute for Spine Care – Physician videos, Patient education videos, Patient forms
- Cardiovascular Longevity’s MyEliteHealth – Patient Portal Integration, Patient forms
- Dr. Cooper-Lall – A dentist who understands the power of social media
As a mom and healthcare shopper, I take charge of my family’s health. Healthcare consumers go online for an increasing variety of healthcare information including looking for their doctors.
A website for your practice is more than just a way to “keep up” with your competition – it’s a way to get ahead.