One underutilized component of hospital marketing is a blog.
Many hospitals are on social media, and most hospitals use digital media in addition to traditional media. But few have a dedicated hospital blog focusing on health, patient care, and information – and that’s a missed opportunity.
Take the Cleveland Clinic, for example. The Cleveland Clinic has transformed their website into essentially one giant blog that features daily content from their professionals and providers on a wealth of health-related topics.
People from all over the country go to the Cleveland Clinic website for information and education, meaning this clinic has one of the best, most recognizable brands in the industry.
Any hospital could do this – all it takes is starting with a simple blog and growing it into a dedicated resource for health-related information.
Why a Blog for a Hospital?
What value does a blog have for a hospital?
As any doctor knows, people are hungry for health-related content and will turn to the Internet before they ever think about speaking to a physician. They’ll also get it from anywhere they can – including many places of questionable integrity and veracity.
Because demand is so high for health-related content, a blog makes perfect sense. Through a dedicated blogging program, a hospital can:
- Help patients by pointing them in the right direction for care
- Raise the profile of their individual physicians
- Increase trust and respect in the community for the hospital
- Boost brand recognition and authority
- Convert prospects into patients
A blogging campaign, if properly administered, can fulfill all of these functions and be a vital cog in the hospital marketing machine.
Start With a Blog Content Strategy
To begin, every blogging campaign needs a dedicated content strategy.
A content strategy is essential because you want to know what topics you will discuss, how often you will discuss them, and who will be creating the content (or serving as the source for it). This gives the healthcare marketing professional the opportunity to create cohesive, cogent structure for a campaign and plan everything well in advance.
A content strategy for a blog should contain:
- The target audience
- Broad topics to cover
- More specific blog titles (these can be changed as needed)
- Keywords to focus on
- Internal links to promote
- A regular schedule for drafting
- A regular schedule for posting
- Who will be responsible for supplying the information (i.e. physicians, department heads, outside sources, etc)
Honing the strategy should be the first step.
Develop a Smart Keyword Plan for Your Hospital Blog
Inside of your content strategy should be a plan around keywords. You should know what keywords you want to focus on and how they’ll be incorporated.
Ideally, choose one focus keyword per blog. Keywords in this context can be the same as those used elsewhere on the website and in online advertising. They can also be a bit more general. “Hospital in Tuscaloosa” may be a target keyword for the website, but a blog keyword could be something like “flu symptoms” or “how to treat diabetes”.
Keywords for a blog generally revolve around what people actually search for when they’re looking for information online. Stick to those keywords instead of keywords that relate to the hospital itself.
Remember: blog posts can rank in search engines, which is one of your ultimate goals.
Develop an Information Gathering System
One of the most valuable hospital marketing assets a facility has are the physicians who work there.
Physicians, nurses, and technicians are the experts in their respective fields. They know what marketing professionals don’t: the ins and outs of a diagnosis, a condition, a treatment, and anything else you’d want to talk about.
Finding a convenient and stress-free way to get information on a regular basis from your experts is the key to any successful blog.
Some doctors like to write and prefer to write posts themselves. Encourage this whenever you can. Most doctors, though, don’t have the time nor the interest to write a post and would rather just give information. That’s fine – develop a system to take their input and turn it into a full-fledged blog.
Distributing and Re-purposing Your Hospital Blog
Once a blog has been written and posted, you need to distribute it.
You can use blog posts as landing pages for ads. You can share them on social media. You can send them out via email. You can even do paid campaigns like Outbrain to direct people to the blog post. All of these approaches work well to distribute your blog post.
Then put on your PR hat to see what opportunities might exist. An individual post could be great source material for a reporter.
Outsource Some or All Blogging Responsibilities
A hospital marketing department can handle a blogging campaign in house, but it may make sense to outsource it to seasoned professionals who are skilled and adept at creating and executing blogging campaigns.
Contact Jimmy Warren, president of TotalCom Marketing for more information on outsourcing blogging and developing a powerful brand reputation online.
ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grandkids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!