Hospitals are experiencing marketing and customer service challenges as they struggle to find ways to address the needs and issues of their patients. Web traffic on the majority of hospital sites has risen exponentially for those that use social media, and a recent report from Ad-ology noted that social media impacts nearly 40 percent of recent hospital or urgent-care center patients, with more than half of 25 to-34-year olds reporting they are influenced by it.
One of the newer trends for hospitals, blogging, should be considered a key tactic within an overall strategic marketing plan. In January 2011, Ed Bennett’s Found in Cache reported only 106 hospitals in the United States maintaining active blogs.
Blogs are important for hospitals for myriad reasons. They can tell the story of your hospital, help prospective patients and their families find you, differentiate you from other hospitals, and drive traffic to your website, to name just a few. Here are several ideas to spark interest and engage your stakeholders:
- Do you have some exciting news from the hospital front? A new piece of equipment, a new procedure, doctors from another country visiting your hospital, or something else that the hospital has just begun?
- Are you recruiting for one or more positions at the hospital? Get that information on your blog.
- Do you have a heart-warming story to tell about a recent birth, a patient success, or one of your employees accomplishing something great? Nothing succeeds more than telling success stories.
- What about some fantastic photos from the nursery of the new arrivals? People love photos, and statistics show that rich media generates amazing traffic.
- What about a video? Video is the future of the internet and there are many ways to capture the unique and positive experiences happening at your hospital or in your community for your blog. Video is a big driver for SEO as well.
- Do you have a doctor or nurse who has accomplished something out of the ordinary?
Dr. Bryan Vartabedian wrote a terrific blog post suggesting what hospitals should think about before starting a blog. He recommends setting up a blog as the hub of all the hospital’s marketing strategy, incorporating traditional marketing with social media marketing. The hospital can post stories on the blog that appear in the hospital newsletter and then set up links to the articles on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The hospital blog will provide content, which in turn will drive traffic back to the hospital website, while the website will drive people back to the blog.
Developing new content regularly is what keeps a blog interesting and ultimately, successful. Lee Aase in his Social Media Pyramid recommends updating content at least once a week. Unlike a static hospital website, a blog needs to be updated regularly, so that people have a reason to go back to it and leave comments. These comments can be extremely important since they can be analyzed to help the hospital provide better, more efficient customer service.
However, keeping up with new content can be difficult for small hospitals or small communications departments that are juggling a lot of other duties. Hospitals today, therefore, are hiring independent contractors and outsourcing the task of writing and updating their blogs to stay current. Whatever the hospital decides to do, keeping the blog current and interesting is a commitment they will have to make in order to run a successful blog.
Think of your hospital blog as the two-way communication between online surfers and you. Through the use of a blog, patients and their families are able to find out what is going on at your hospital. They’ll discover what great accomplishments you’re making, what your doctors and nurses are up to, and learn about how your hospital is interacting with the local community. Your blog will help drive your SEO so that consumers have an easier time finding you when they search for healthcare information and hospital/doctor recommendations.
Your blog will improve customer service, drive more patients to your hospital, and ultimately, improve your profitability. It’s time for hospitals to get serious about blogging! And with only 2 percent engaged, you can jump ahead of your competitors.
Join us for a Complimentary webinar: Blogging for Hospitals, July 14 @ 4 pm EDT
Get the details and register here: http://bit.ly/blogging4hospitals