marketing firm huntsville

Healthcare Marketing: 10 Time Savers for Social Media

Social media is a time suck!  But there are ways to be more efficient and minimize the distraction.

One of the major issues about social media for healthcare marketers is the time it requires.  Social media may be comparatively inexpensive but it requires a major investment of time to do it well.  And what healthcare marketer has time?

But Corey Eridon posted on HubSpot ways to make social media more efficient.  Things to do to keep the demands of social media from paralyzing you.  Here’s a summary of some of the suggestions he posted.

1) Compose your updates in advance. It’s time to update your social media posts…Facebook and Twitter.  Do you click around trying to find content to power those updates?  If you do, you will spend an inordinate amount of time researching and posting.  It’s better to bookmark information as you stumble across it.  Or if you need to do research, do it in advance and bookmark the information.

Use a social media publishing schedule– an Excel template (or something similar) that lets you input all of your social media status updates for each social network, organized by the date and time you’d like to publish them.

You can set aside an hour and input all of your social media updates for the following work week. That way you’re not left scrambling to find enough compelling content for all of the social networks you need to manage.

2) Maintain a content repository. To craft a week’s worth of social media updates you should use a content repository. Here’s what it looks like:

Basically, this is the place that you can keep all the content you’d like to promote and resurface in social media — because the more content you create, the harder it will be for you to keep track of all of it. So put in your ebooks, your blog posts, your infographics, everything you will want to re-promote at a later date in social media. Then you’ll be able to jump over to this tab and quickly find content to promote! Just be sure to include an expiration date so you don’t accidentally promote something that has already taken place.  And you will be less likely to let things fall between the cracks.

No more pulling content out of thin air, marketers!

3) Use a collaborative tool to share your schedule. Social media content can come from more than just you! Take the burden off of yourself and make your social media presence richer by including other people in crafting social updates. You can share the days and times when you’ll be publishing updates and it makes it easy for everyone to see what slots are available for promotion. You can even block off certain slots as “Reserved” for your own updates to ensure the content you need to promote doesn’t get swallowed up by other people’s updates.

Just make sure you communicate three notes about this collaborative approach to social media content creation: Establish a deadline for  content for the following week; communicate that the spreadsheet is first come, first serve; and make it clear that the social media manager has authority to veto updates that aren’t appropriate or not consisitent with the brand.

4) Schedule your updates to auto-publish. With content ready, use automation to make your life easier.

Now, not every social network makes it easy to auto-publish, so you’ll have to do some manual updating (on LinkedIn, for example). But you can still automate a good chunk of your publishing using a tool like HootSuite.

5) Set up social media monitoring. While creating your content in advance is a serious boon to productivity, healthcare marketers should still be leaving room for timely updates, too. What if a news story breaks? Or someone covers your company in their publication? Or someone publishes an excellent blog post you’d like to share with your network? That real-time content is critical, and you can set up monitoring to ensure you see it coming through. Use Google Alerts to keep up to date on information you can use.

6) Establish your company’s social media policy. If you know exactly what you should and should not do on social media, it becomes much more natural to create content and respond to fans and followers. If your company has a social media policy that details exactly what you should and should not say in social media and the tone you want your company to convey, it’s way easier to quickly create content and interact with your fans … because that kind of detail and forethought gives your company an actual personality. It’s much easier to be social when you have a personality.

7) Leverage networks’ admin features. Sometimes, more hands are better than one… Sometimes.

It can get a little scary for marketing managers, though, when too many people are involved in social media marketing. Specifically, if they all have administrative access to the accounts. Because while you know the nooks and crannies of each network, not everyone is as knowledgeable as you. So how do you leverage the help of your fellow co-workers without having them have a free-for-all?

Make use of the admin features on social networks. On Facebook, for example, you can now assign specific roles for users that limit their ability to do things like create posts, respond as the brand in comments, or create ads:

LinkedIn and Google+ let you assign admin roles, too, but you’re out of luck with Twitter. So either keep your brand’s Twitter login credentials under wraps, or give some serious training to anyone you give those credentials to!

8) Pre-schedule your checkins throughout the day. Even with a monitoring tool set up, you’ll have to check in to each of your social networks throughout the day to respond to comments and interact with fans and followers. Some marketers feel like they need to respond to everyone on social media immediately. While immediacy is great, your network also understands that you aren’t glued to your computer screen at all times. It’s alright (and important for your productivity if you don’t have an employee dedicated only to social media monitoring) to set aside specific times during the day for social media monitoring.

10) Use tools to create visual content. You know you should be creating visual content to share on social media, but you’re not a graphic designer. What do you do? Leverage some of the visual content creation tools that make the task easy. If you have a Smartphone, you should have no trouble finding apps that make you look like a visual content creation genius. There is, of course, the much-loved Instagram to take your photos from blah to beautiful. And there’s a new favorite of many marketers, Over , that lets you overlay text over photos for that kind of content that will get you seriously high engagement.

10) Eliminate the clutter in your analytics. Social media is one of those channels that marketers have simultaneously too much data to analyze, and not enough. Don’t get bogged down in the abundance of data! Spend less time looking at the fluffy metrics that really mean nothing to your overall marketing success, and just focus on a few core metrics.

Utilize these time saving techniques to relieve the burden of social media and to improve efficiency.  It will make social media more effective, less of a time suck and it will give you more control over the process.  Don’t let social media control you.  Instead, you control it.


Healthcare Marketing: Social Media Lessons to be Learned from Target

Target has 5 million Facebook fans….. here are 5 social media lessons we can learn from their success.

Target, the third largest retailer in the nation, has 20 million fans and added over 2 million fans in one month.  But they have more than just a quantity of fans.  They also have very high engagement levels with their fans.  Morgan Arnold, reporting for Social Media Today reviewed Target’s social media success and offered 5 of their best practices, which can be very helpful to healthcare marketers.

1.    Keep messaging and delivery mechanisms simple and relevant to the customer.

Target is constantly attempting to craft tools and applications that not only facilitate interaction among online friends but also actually create new opportunities for transactions with the brand.  They create win-win situations that are useful and rewarding to their fans but also lead to transactions and engagement with the brand.

2.    Use Twitter as a tool to create conversations.

Many organizations use Twitter just to dispense information.  It is an outstanding medium for that but also to engage followers in conversations.  Additionally it’s a way to build buzz and launch new services.

3.    Whenever possible, say it with pictures.

Track Social’s recent white paper Optimizing Facebook Engagement showed that photos are the hands-down winner when it comes to boosting engagement scores.  Photos should be an integral component of the content brands post.

4.    Community Engagement = Social Engagement.

Involvement in the community will increase engagement on Facebook.  Any community involvement should be documented on Facebook as a means to create consumer involvement.

5.    Think Global, Post Local.

Always localize healthcare issues and news.  Use healthcare issues of the day but always explain what it means and how it impacts your local audience.

Healthcare marketers could learn from Target’s approach to social media.  Be relevant and engage the social space in ways that are meaningful, creative and mutually beneficial.

Healthcare Marketing: 10 New Social Media Tips

Social media is not easy.  It’s not like traditional media.  It’s requires a new way of thinking.

Mashable interviewed OMD Word’s U.S. Director, Colin Sutton who offered his top 10 social media tips for brands.  Those tips are summarized here.

1.    Don’t Be An Island

Traditional and digital media should be coordinated into an integrated campaign.  If you are planning a social media campaign that’s not connected to the rest of your communications, marketing and media plans, then rethink it.

2.    It’s A Brave New World – Accept It

Don’t treat social media like traditional campaigns.  Social networks connect you with customers across multiple devices and media through two-way communications.

 3.    Listen Up  – And Not Just At The End Of the Campaign

What you hear is important.  It should impact planning, and execution.  It should dictate your marketing moves.

4.    Connect The Dots To Win

Content is king and media is amplification.  Make sure everyone is on the same page and working together.

5.    Goals Can Unite And Ignite Your Efforts

Identify the most desired social actions.  Agree on the goals and determine how you are going to measure them.

 6.    Benchmark Relentless

If there are past campaigns use the data to set benchmarks.  If it’s the first campaign compare against similar campaigns by competitors.

7.    Long-Term Value Is Paramount

Meaningful experiences drive long-term relationships and build advocacy.

8.    Understand All of the Social Channels You Are Targeting

Understand how each channel works and how customers live and breathe there.

 9.    Optimize Ruthlessly and Intelligently 

Collect data, understand it and optimize it.

10.    Think About Eyes, Minds and Wallet When You Are Evaluating Success

Success is more than the value of earned media.   It’s also about perception.  Consider the consumer’s minds and hearts when measuring perception.

Most healthcare marketers are still trying to learn how best to use social media, if at all.   With few exceptions, most don’t have a vast amount of social experience.  But we can minimize our mistakes and maximize our effectiveness by learning from others who have more experience.  That’s why these tips can be very valuable to healthcare marketers.

Healthcare Marketing: Fight Fragmentation with Integration

With the plethora of media options, marketing channels and consumer touch points, integration is essential for maximizing marketing success.

In the not too distant past, marketers had a rather small number of options for its marketing message.  TV, radio, print and outdoor was about it.  Then traditional advertising mediums began to offer new alternatives.  Cable television, satellite radio and custom direct marketing.

But then the web showed up.  And the choices became seemingly endless:

  • Websites/SEO
  • Search marketing
  • Web advertising
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Tablets
  • Mobile
  • Apps
  • Blogging
  • Gaming

And the list could go on and on.  There is strength in this enormous growth of marketing options.  There are new ways to reach consumers, we can target them more narrowly (demographically, sociographically, geographically and psychographically), we can sometimes measure effectiveness more effectively and we can be much more creative with our media options.

But it creates fragmentation.  Fragmentation of our brand’s message.  And that is not a good thing.  The challenge is to integrate our message over all our marketing and messaging platforms and options.   Yes it includes, but certainly not limited to using a common tagline and a single color pallet and enforcing a strict and consistent corporate identity.

As Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork wrote in an article for Bloomberg Businessweek, Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity. It requires not only the identification of a powerful, unifying strategy and compelling voice for your brand, but the discipline to roll it into every aspect of your organization—from advertising to sales, customer service to customer relationship management programs (and beyond). It’s not for the faint of heart”.

McKee is correct and it’s not easy.  In fact it can be an enormous task to integrate the brand message over all messaging channels both externally and internally.  And perhaps it can never be fully accomplished.  But as healthcare marketers our task is to try.  Make it a priority.  It’s difficult enough to build a strong healthy brand, but to not have consistent integration of our brand message, voice and tone, makes it even more difficult and perhaps unlikely.

It requires knowing our brand.  Knowing who we are, our brand personality and brand attributes.  And trying as hard as we can to be consistent over all channels and mediums.  Those healthcare organizations that do it the best will be the most successful in this age of hyper-fragmentation.


Healthcare Marketing: Bring Back the Glory of Advertising

Adverting can be better.  We can create better work.  With all the tools available today we should be more effective.

Think about advertising in the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s.   Before the internet and social media and mobile marketing.  Great brands were built.  Using traditional media, great brands were created. TV, print, radio and outdoor were used to create dominant brands and build brand equity.

Think about some of the successes:

Diamonds Are Forever…DeBeers

Volvo… owned safety

Avis Tried Harder. . because they were number 2

Pop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz… Alka-Seltzer

Just Do it…Nike

Be All You Can Be…Army

It Takes A Licking and Keeps On Ticking…Timex

Where’s the Beef?…Wendy’s

Only a Few Good Men…Marines

The Real Thing…Coke

And we could go on and on.  The point is easily made that advertising was effective and helped build great brands.  But fewer great brands are being created today.  Why?  Maybe it’s because we don’t have great ideas.  We aren’t saying anything worth saying.  We aren’t capturing the minds and hearts of consumers.  We are talking at consumers instead of to consumers.   Maybe it’s because our advertising has no soul.

We take shortcuts, go for the cheapest production, take the easy way out, and don’t spend the time to do what’s necessary to capture the consumer’s minds and hearts.

It’s true that healthcare advertising is quite restrictive.  We are dealing with a very serious subject. We have all kinds of regulations.  We have to be sensitive to our many constituencies.  So many have to approve the work and to gain all the approvals the work gets watered down.  It’s uniquely challenging to do great healthcare work.  But none of this should prohibit us from trying.  Trying to put some soul in our work, make sure it resonates with the consumer in both their mind and heart.  Give our work a voice and a brand distinction that builds brand equity.

To do so means art direction, production and copy writing all matters.  The work should have a voice and be attractive and appealing.  It takes skill and it’s not easy.  We should push each other to do better and to be committed to producing the best work possible and to not just give in.

And we must believe advertising can be both creative and effective.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  The history of advertising should teach us that.  Creativity and effectiveness has always gone hand in hand.  We should strive to create beautiful work that speaks to our audience.  Work that communicates and captivates.

Advertising has been effective for decades.  It has built great brands.  And today we have more tools than ever.  More opportunities than ever.  More options in the toolbox.  More mediums to integrate that should make our work even stronger and more effective.

But we must believe in our industry.  Our craft.  We must respect what we do and the skill and talents required to do the job well.  We can all do better.

We must!


Hospital Marketing: 7 Common Social Media Mistakes…And How To Fix Them

As healthcare marketers delve into social media, we have all kinds of fears and hesitancies.  To be more effective learn not to make these common mistakes.

Heidi Cohen, principal of Riverside Marketing Strategies posted the following blog on Smart Blog.  It’s a very good read:

Marketers are afraid of making social media mistakes. Even worse, they’re concerned their social media faux pas will balloon into a public relations nightmare. Get over it! In today’s always-on, connected world, issues can arise whether you’re participating in social media or not. So be a part of the conversation and engage, because when you have a problem, it’s too late to build your base. (And of course make sure that you have a PR crisis plan ready!)

Here are seven common social media mistakes marketers make and how to fix them.

1.    Fail to show respect for others on social media.

Take a lesson from the Godfather. Social media runs on old-fashioned good manners. Just because you work for a large company doesn’t mean that social media participants will automatically listen to you. Remember they’re thinking WII-FM (What’s in it for me?). Further, just enticing them with a special offer may not cause them to stay longer than necessary to make the purchase.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Listen to what your customers and the public are saying on social media platforms and respond where appropriate. To this end, it’s helpful to use social media monitoring products and to have customer service representatives prepared to respond via these channels.

2.    Use sanitized corporate-speak on social media platforms.

Social media requires a human presence. The absence of anything sounding remotely human, such as in one-way, one-to-many message broadcasting, hurts your organization. It means you’re only talking about your company and products. This me, me, me syndrome is how marketers miss the boat on social media.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Before pushing out your business-focused messages, listen to the conversation and realize it’s multi-directional, including many-to-many at the same time. Inwardly focused messages about your organization tend not to be where the interest and power are on social media platforms. Instead actively participate. The bottom line is you need to be and sound human! Consider what you can do for others.

3.    Shout buy, buy, buy on social media platforms.

This is akin to being a fast-talking sleazy salesman. While causing prospects to run in the opposite direction, it shows you don’t understand how social media platforms work. Instead, it’s important to pay-it-forward on social media platforms.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Change your tenor on social media networks. You can have one deal-of-the-day special where you push out a one-day-only offer the way Woot and Target do. (Check out Target’s site  on Twitter.) But the rest of your social media participation should contain at least 10 messages about others including your customers to every one message about your organization. To this end, it’s useful to create an editorial calendar of content you plan to share on various social media platforms.

4.    Build a social media following for one campaign.

Without understanding the ongoing nature of social media, marketers may build a social media base for one campaign without thinking about how to keep these participants engaged. I call this the LeBron James approach to social media. Basketball player LeBron James built lots of interest around which team he was going to join in July 2010. Instead of providing fans and followers with reasons to support his decision, he seriously made them angry.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Start by understanding the relationship nature of social media. Getting engagement for a one-time promotion translates to customers taking your deal and leaving. Use your promotion to build long-term relationships with your prospects. Create a plan for ongoing engagement and marketing to maximize your investment in the acquisition campaign.

5.    Forget to incorporate your brand into your social media engagement.

Organizations work hard to create and grow their brand. Branding should be integrated into every aspect of your social media interactions including your pages, interactions and content. It’s deeper than the colors you use or slapping your logo onto your avatar.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Examine your brand’s DNA and determine how you’ll translate the salient elements to social media interactions. Remember social media runs on content. Think in terms of your organization’s stories.

6.    Employ a college student who knows Facebook.

While it’s enticing to hire an inexpensive intern to handle your social media communications, it overlooks the importance, experience and maturity required of understanding your brand, organization and the public. Understand social media participants take exchanges seriously. Therefore, shouldn’t your organization put its best foot forward?

Actionable social media marketing fix: To this end, show that your firm is serious about social media by having permanent employees who know your organization, brand(s) and product(s) run your social media efforts. Create a set of social media guidelines and provide social media training for your employees so they understand how to represent your organization and what to do as private citizens.

7.    Are you opaque in your social media dealings?

Social media requires a level of transparency. This doesn’t mean you need to divulge your competitive advantage or financial statement. Your target market and social media participants want to know where you stand and what you’re up to.

Actionable social media marketing fix: Don’t just lurk on social media platforms. Create a profile that represents your organization and discloses your point of view. Ensure that your representatives are trained in social media and understand your business so that they can be transparent in their dealings without telling corporate secrets.

Face it: You’re going to make mistakes on social media. It’s an evolving platform and, while there are pathways to help you develop an effective marketing plan, none of them is guaranteed to have no problems. What’s more important is that you’re prepared to respond in today’s 24/7 world and how you handle your engagement.


Healthcare Marketing: Five Important Truths About Social Media

Social media is often misunderstood. It’s important we understand the truth about social media.  Only when we do can it be effective for us.

There are a lot of misconceptions about social media.  Everyone knows how pervasive it is.  Everyone knows how socially and culturally engaging it is.  Everyone knows we need to be participating in it.  But it’s important we understand the truth about it.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO of Synhergy Marketing outlined some of the important truths about social media in an article in iMedia Connection.

Here are the truths we must accept and embrace:

1.    Social media and advertising are NOT synonymous.

Advertising is about selling.  It’s about buying exposure.  It’s about pushing brands and products and services.  But social media is not like that.  It’s not like traditional advertising.  It’s not about buying exposure or pushing your brand.  Social media is not about screaming, “look at me” and “buy me”.  It’s more about interacting and building relationships.

2.    Are you interrupting or interacting?

People hate being interrupted.  No one likes to be interrupted in the middle of a conversation.  But that’s what brands do everyday in social media.  Consumers use social media to build and maintain relationships.  In social media, credibility cannot be bought.  It has to be earned.  Use social media to create meaningful relationships.

3.    A “Like” is not the same as an “Engaged Like”.   

It’s not about how many followers you have.  You could have thousands but unless they are engaged with your brand they are not worth very much.   Brand loyalist and brand advocates are what count.  Don’t be fooled.

4.    The ROI in social media is relationships.

To evaluate social media in terms of dollars and cents is useless.  Because social media is not about the number of procedures but about relationships.  Relationships lead to business but it is not about the business, it’s about the relationship.  And about those brand advocates recommending your brand to their family and friends.  Sure you may not be able to quantify it in dollars but that’s difficult.  But it doesn’t mean it’s not important.

5.    Social media marketing is an investment, not an expense.

With traditional marketing, you lay out an expense and you expect to get a corresponding return.  At least that is what we strive for. But with social media it takes time to build relationships.  To be engaging.  To build credibility.  And to build loyalty.  There are no shortcuts.  With social media the consumer is in control.  They control the message.  Our purpose is to engage in the conversation in a meaningful way.

Traditional advertising is a challenge.  How do we break through the clutter and be heard?  How do we get the exposure we want in a splintered media marketplace?  How do we make our message resonate with the consumer?  Social media is also challenging.  In different ways.  Is’ not easy, it’s not cheap, it doesn’t happen quickly.  The consumer wants to be social and they control the pace and depth of the relationship.  And sometimes that’s hard for healthcare marketers to accept. But the truth will set us free!