Nearly half (47%) of hospitals have a blog. And blogs are among the top four digital tactics that hospital marketers plan to use more of in 2014. That’s according to the preliminary findings in our recent eHealth survey.
Combine those stats with these:
- 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- Blogging is the #1 method for increasing traffic, with SEO in second place.
- 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog.
If you’re part of that 53% of healthcare organizations without a blog, perhaps it’s time to consider one.
To start, there are six questions you need to answer. (Thanks to Nick Westergaard, Brand Driven Digital, who highlighted these fundamentals at a recent content marketing bootcamp.)
- Why should you blog? Determine your business objective. Are you blogging to improve SEO? Position your brand as a thought leader? Or are you trying to build relationships with customers and perhaps also gather feedback for market research? Are conversions from the blog the most important – turning readers into future patients?
- What are you going to blog about? Define your audience and what they need. With all the content and blogs available to them online, why will they want to read yours? The best way to do this is ask questions – remember to treat questions like currency. Also check out your analytics for insight.
- When will you blog? Nick Westergaard’s answer to this: when you can. What matters most is that you build a schedule and stick with it. Posting one to three articles weekly seems most popular. But your time frame will depend on the level of engagement you’re going for and the investment you want to make.
- Where should you create this blog? Is it integrated into your website or part of a separate mission?
- Who does it involve? Will you assign the blogging task to one individual or a particular team? Or will you accept blogs from a larger group of individuals? What are your requirements and guidelines for bloggers?
- How will you measure success? Search impact? New visitors? Customer focus? Conversions?
Once you have an idea I’d recommend doing some research. See what other organizations are doing. There are many different types of hospital blogs. Here are a few created by Geonetric clients:
Mary Greeley Medical Center’s blog “This Thing Called Health” presents healthcare information in an entertaining and helpful way. Posts answer questions like: “how do I deal with dry skin?” or “at what point does cold weather become dangerous?” A marketing communications specialist at the organization interviews experts and writes the posts.
St. Vincent’s HealthCare launched a blog in 2012 to promote the construction of its new hospital, St. Vincent’s Clay County. Visitors to the blog were able to keep up with the building process through articles and videos. Since the new hospital opened in October 2013, the blog is used to communicate news and happenings at St. Vincent’s Clay County.
Owensboro Health offers a CEO blog, enabling its CEO to share his vision and interact with employees. This is a private blog not accessible to the general public.
Overlake Medical Center offers a Women’s & Infants’ blog to provide a forum for information, news, and tips on women’s health and caring for a newborn. Visitors can get advice on everything from sleeping habits to selecting a pediatrician.
Crozer-Keystone Health System’s blog, Healthbeat, offers posts authored by physicians, experts and leadership from across the health system. The blog focuses on community health, fitness, women’s health and family medicine topics.
Healthy Helen is a blog managed by the public relations department at Pella Regional Health Center. There are posts that fall into a variety of health topics – such as cardiac, diabetes, nutrition and senior living.
Some more advice from Nick Westergaard: just push publish. Do your research. Determine your strategy. But don’t get too caught up in this initial phase. The best way to know if a blog is really going to work for your organization is to simply try it and see what happens.
If you’d like help developing a blog, we’re here. Geonetric knows that finding time to write all those posts initially can be difficult. Our content writers are experts at creating posts that interest visitors – give us a call or send us a note and we’ll be happy to help you reach your audiences through blogs.