Sunday, March 25, 2012
Your hospital finally has a digital marketing plan in place. You’re blogging, using Facebook and Twitter, and even posting videos. Now you’re probably wondering: Who is searching for us?
It’s a key question to ask. As with any marketing content, you need to tailor your social media strategies to the right audience. But if you thought social media campaigns were most effective for a younger audience of 20- and 30-somethings, the latest research in online search trends may surprise you. Take a look at these findings:
• Men use social media to find health information more than women. 41% of males reported using some type of social media platform for healthcare purposes compared to 25% of females, according to a consumer survey recently published in a report by PwC’s Health Research Institute.
Women are still more likely to make health care decisions for their family. However, when you consider how much web space is devoted to women’s health issues, it’s fair to question whether men are performing successful searches. Does your website address health topics of interest to men? Have you considered what those may be? Are they easy to find? Think about prostate health, sports medicine and even male fertility.
• Baby Boomers are hungry for health information they can research online. When you consider the independent, take-charge spirit of that generation, it makes perfect sense. Baby Boomers love doing their own research and health is no different. According to this report by the Pew Research Center, 78% of Boomers (or, more specifically, adults ages 46 to 64) search for health topics online, a figure that’s inching remarkably close to their younger counterparts. 85% of Millenials (adults ages 18 to 32) go online for health searches.
Consider the top risk factors for the Baby Boomer generation, such as diabetes and heart disease, and other topics useful to adults who may be caring for elderly parents. Does your website address these issues?
In total, 80% of adults in the U.S. are looking online for health information, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. What are they looking for? Pew’s latest report on online health searches tells us. Take a look at their findings: they put together great summary charts for at-a-glance data you can use in your next conversation with your digital marketing team.
At Aha Media Group, we're constantly using information about who your users are so we can craft better content for your organization. Part of our digital strategy and writing workshops focus on creating user personas so you can effectively target your core consumer audience. By knowing your audience, you can better design content that answers their questions and gets them through the doors of your hospital.
Want to talk more about it? Contact us at www.ahamediagroup.com.
Monday, March 5, 2012
It’s a simple supply-and-demand issue: Health care blogs abound because people are hungry for health information.
In 2006, Paul Levy, then CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, made a national name for himself by launching the first hospital blog, aptly named “Running a Hospital.” Levy’s frank writing style made him a sensation in the health world.
Today, the health care arena is full of bloggers. And even though Levy has stepped down, Beth Israel’s hospital site currently hosts four separate blogs, including one catering to parents of newborns. Ed Bennett's tally of hospitals across the country with official blogs shows a large and growing list. These provide another way for hospitals to connect online with current and prospective patients, who are eager to find reliable sources.
Nearly 80 percent of Internet users are looking for health information online, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. In addition to your hospital’s website, a blog is one more way to make sure they find you.
10 tips for hospital bloggers
1. Make it personal: The blog shouldn’t be a cut-and-paste job from your hospital’s marketing/media relations press release site. This is your chance to show off your human side and emotionally connect with patients. Urge doctors to explore topics, such as why they love their work and what they learn from patients.
2. Monitor the buzz: Pay attention to current events and hot topics. When flu season arrives, a family practice may blog about prevention tips and vaccination schedules. What’s the latest research on disease causes and links, and do you have an expert who can weigh in? Is a new treatment that your center offers getting wider media attention? Find a way to talk about it. You can always set up a Google alert for subjects you know your audience cares about.
3. Check your jargon: Be cautious about so-called “doctor speak.” You’re writing to connect with patients, not medical colleagues, so keep it casual and easy to understand. Remember that patients don’t refer to their chests as “thoracic cavities.” See this study that showed that most people find the language on hospital websites way too elevated.
4. Keep it brief: The best part about blogging is that shorter is better. Aim for 200 to 500 words.
5. Don’t ignore it: Post regularly. Make a plan – one entry a day, two a week – and adhere to it. Consistency is key for readers to see it as a serious effort. For more on this, see our whitepaper on Content Strategy for Healthcare.
6. Know your audience: Keep in mind who’s reading to guide its content and tone. If you’re a children’s hospital or pediatric practice, your readers are parents, mostly moms. But a cancer center can expect a much wider, varied audience, as both patients of all ages, as well as their family members, may tune in.
7. Be social: Blogging is, after all, a form of social media marketing, so create plenty of opportunities for readers to join the discussion. Allow them to leave comments on the blog, and enable widgets so they can share your post on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Interact with the commenters. See our chart of how to repurpose your hospital's content.
8. Use multimedia: Think outside the text box. Post photos, videos, photo slideshows and hyperlink generously.
9. Branding: Your blog, though more casual, is still an extension of your hospital and represents your brand. Seize the opportunity to brand the blog and fully integrate it into your overall digital marketing plan.
10. Share the work: The content doesn’t have to be fruit of one person’s labor. Allowing several members from your medical team to contribute adds a good variety of ideas and perspectives, and makes the blog easier to maintain.