Humanize Your Hospital By Blogging

Social Media to Health Care

Note: Following is my contribution to a new book, Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Health Care, published by the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. The book is a compilation of essays by 30 thought-leaders and hands-on participants in health care social media.

In Search of Excellence author and renowned business consultant Tom Peters says, “No single thing in the last fifteen years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life. It has changed my perspective. It has changed my emotional outlook. And it’s the best marketing tool by an order of magnitude I have ever had.”

Despite that ringing endorsement, of the 1,563 hospitals engaged in social media, only 211 host blogs, according to the Health Care Social Media List. All those other hospitals are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Why your hospital should be blogging

Your hospital should be blogging to:

  • Build loyal relationships with your community. Regularly blogging useful, interesting information practically guarantees that readers will return to your website again and again.
  • Humanize your organization. Blogging adds a personal touch to your hospital website that a list of services simply can’t. See what  Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, has done for Seattle Children’s Hospital on her blog, Seattle Mama Doc.
  • Give your leadership, staff, patients and community members a voice.  Anna Roth, CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical, provides a great example on her blog, Doing Common Things Uncommonly Well .
  • Boost your Google rankings. Google search loves websites with fresh information, and blogging is a powerful way to accomplish that.

Why are hospitals hesitant to blog?

So with all these great opportunities, why do so many hospitals hesitate to blog?

Blogging requires more thought and preparation than short Facebook posts or tweets on Twitter, and to be successful, you need to post a blog at least once a week. Posting two or three times a week is even more effective. Add blogging to a lengthy list of daily tasks, and it can easily seem overwhelming.

Four ways to make blogging easier

Here are four ways to make blogging easier for you and your organization:

  • Develop an editorial calendar and stick to it.
  • Recruit a team of bloggers: CEO’s, dietitians, educators, nurses, pharmacists, Cancer survivors, new moms, board members, donors, grateful patients. They’re all possible blog writers, although they will probably need to be edited by an editorial services professional.
  • Keep your posts short – under 400 words – and to the point. Readers will appreciate it.
  • Don’t worry about writing a masterpiece each time. Just do it.

Useful tips

  • Be friendly, conversational, and interesting.
  • Write with patients and caregivers in mind. You’re not trying to write to everybody. You’re trying to write to somebody who will view your hospital as the go-to place for medical care.
  • Avoid technical jargon and medical speak like the plague!
  • Don’t be discouraged if you feel no one is reading your blog. It will take some time to build readership. People will find you if you consistently post something useful and interesting.
  • Make sure you offer an RSS feed so you’re easy to follow.

An added bonus

As an added bonus, a hospital blog is the perfect place to update your staff, the community and media during times of breaking news, emergency or natural disaster.

Tom Peters is right. I have found that nothing helps me organize and clarify my thinking better than blogging. Try it, stick with it, and you’ll like it.

By Dan Hinmon, Principal, Hive Strategies

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