Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top Six Ways To Find The Time To Blog

When it comes to blogging, almost everyone I know has the same concern: time. In the quiet spaces of our lives where the gusts of work, chores, meals and sleep seem to calm, few people want the weight of a laptop bearing down on them. They also don't long for the pounds of guilt they will feel at having their last blog post be counted in dog years.

So, if you will never have the time I recommend to people--hire me. If they don't want to do that, I soon get over my shock and pain, to tell them not to create a blog but to try to post on other more established sites.

If the urge or marketing significance pulls at your conscience enough, then here are my top six recommendations for working on your blog, so that you can get back to watching the last "Glee."

1. Get on a schedule. You have to make the time to blog. As you can see by my archive, I'm not great at this, but deadlines help. If you can convince yourself that there is a hard nosed editor with a salt and pepper crew cut and bristly mustache standing over you, hey, it may work.

2. Start content for a rainy day. Unless your blog is about stories from the black and white headlines of today's news, then you can write some posts ahead of time. When you have a bank of five posts on your hard drive, the word procrastination doesn't seem so scary.

3. Find content on which you have a unique opinion. It's okay to quote other posts or articles if you're giving your take on it.  If Men's Health can write every month about washboard abs, there has to be a different approach you can take on your subject matter, even if it's washboard abs.

4. Guest authors are like interns that you don't have to manage. People love publicity, so if there's a vendor, co-worker or friend who is passionate about the same subject you are, ask them to write a post. Best case scenario, they do your work for you. Worst case, just play it off as a compliment.

5. Refer back to old posts. If sitcomes can have a "remember when" episode where they replay their favorite scenes, so can you. Family Ties always did that.

6. Tell a story. Sometimes fiction is the quickest way to tell the truth. Instead of having to search for an example of what you want to communicate, make one up.  Don't pass it off as factual, but people love a good yarn and will hardly fault you for explaining yourself in a home cooked example.

Good writing and I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Holiday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Healthcare Marketing with Social Media

I wanted to provide some great examples of Social Media in Healthcare and found, as usual with the internet, someone had done it better.  So this list of examples comes via the Top Rank Blog.  These show how some great providers have provided great social media plans.

1. Tweet Live Procedures

In the past year, social media channels have helped open up an area of healthcare previously only available to a select few: the operating room.
Last February, Henry Ford Hospital became one of the first hospitals to Tweet a live procedure from an operating room. Doctors, medical students and curious non-medical personnel followed along as surgeons tweeted short updates on the kidney surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.

This healthcare marketing tactic can effectively create excitement and raise public awareness for a healthcare organization. In the case of the Henry Ford procedure, Twitter was abuzz that February day with users both re-tweeting the messages from Henry Ford and adding their own thoughts on the event. That buzz can help healthcare organizations both attract new patients and recruit medical personnel.

2. Train Medical Personnel

Some healthcare organizations are beginning to recognize the potential impact of leveraging social media channels to complement training efforts. Mayo Clinic Social Media Manager Lee Aase, for example, incorporated social media into a recent training presentation for local chapters of the American Heart Association. (Check out Lee Odden’s social media interview with Aase for Online Marketing Blog.) During the presentation, Aase leveraged Twitter to encourage participants to contribute to the discussion using the #AHAchat hashtag.
Weaving social media into healthcare training initiatives can provide multiple benefits, including:
Giving trainees a forum to ask questions and quickly receive answers

Providing presenters with immediate feedback from trainees (i.e., if trainees have mastered a concept of if more guidance is needed)

Enabling organizations to complement healthcare marketing efforts by sharing slideshows, video or pictures from training sessions on social sites like YouTube or Flickr

3. Reach Mainstream Media

70% of journalists now use social networks to assist reporting, compared to 41% the year before, according to a Middleberg Communications survey reported by PRWeek. With numbers that high, it only makes sense for healthcare marketers to leverage social media channels in order to achieve coverage by both mainstream media and industry publications.
As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or treatments, medical research or other significant achievements. For example, when Aurora Health Care tweeted a knee operation in April, it received significant media attention, both from mainstream media and industry publications including Good Morning America, the local Milwaukee public radio network and Hospital Management Magazine.
4. Communicate in Times of Crisis

When disaster strikes – whether it be a flood, an earthquake or a terrorist attack – hospitals and healthcare providers are at the center of it all. Healthcare providers can leverage social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar.
During the November Fort Hood shooting attack, Steven Widman of Scott & White Healthcare – one of the hospitals that treated Fort Hood victims, used Twitter to provide up-to-the-minute news. Through Twitter, Widman provided updates on emergency room access and hospital operation status, re-tweeted news from Red Cross and communicated with reporters.
Widman shared with Found In Cache Blog the results of the social media crisis communication efforts:
Twitter followers increased 78% in just three days

Scott & White Healthcare was listed on the front page of Twitter as a “trending topic”

The hospital’s YouTube channel was ranked the 79th most viewed non-profit channel during the entire week surrounding the crisis

5. Provide Accurate Information to Patients

73% of patients search for medical information online before or after doctors visits, according to this video from the HealthCare New Media Conference. With the magnitude of health information available on the web – both accurate and inaccurate – it’s likely that these patients can easily be misinformed.
By integrating social media into the healthcare marketing mix, organizations can share accurate, timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more. Social sites like Inspire are providing a forum for patients to share their health problems and questions about treatments with other patients, as well as qualified medical personnel. Inspire, for instance, partners with trusted health nonprofit organizations to ensure information is accurate and its community is safe.

The benefits of integrating social media into healthcare marketing efforts are priceless – from improving patient care to gaining media coverage to attracting new patients and staff. If your healthcare organization hasn’t already taken advantage of social networking channels, now is the time. If you’re having challenges getting approval, check out “Social Media in Healthcare Marketing: Making the Case“.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The American Medical Association's (AMA) prescription for social media

The American Medical Association (AMA) and its journal (JAMA) is one of the most respected health institutions in the country.  Yet, recently its most read work goes beyond the bounds of medical discovery.  The association has adopted a new policy on professionalism when using social media. The policy, announced during the AMA's semi-annual policymaking meeting in San Diego, aims to help physicians maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

To quote the AMA: “Using social media can help physicians create a professional presence online, express their personal views and foster relationships, but it can also create new challenges for the patient-physician relationship. The AMA’s new policy outlines a number of considerations physicians should weigh when building or maintaining a presence online.”

Of course, medical groups, insurance companies and other providers have to be extra careful in their highly regulated arena.  HIPAA rules must be maintained.  Patient/Provider confidentiality should always be kept.  There are, however, great services provided via social networking.  I've written before about the CDC's use of social media to get out information about H1N1 controls.  I'm working with a physician who wants to use a blog and updates to educate people about new findings and new journal articles.

The new policy adopted by the AMA encourages physicians to:

  • Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites;
  • Monitor their own internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their sites, and content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate;
  • Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained;
  • Consider separating personal and professional content online; and
  • Recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may even have consequences for their medical careers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Greeting Card Marketing

You walk to your mailbox.  You open it up for the normal fodder, bill, bill, direct mail, direct mail.  Wait, there's something actually handwritten and in that square card envelope.  Who doesn't open that first.  As much as I've written about social media, email marketing and fast database solutions, I thought as the holidays approach, this time I'm going old school.

Greeting Cards to your clients, vendors and family get opened and if their good, even put up somewhere in the office or break room.  The key is to be different.  Don't go with the sappy, script over flowers card (unless it's so bad you can make it a joke).  Instead, try humor or something personal.

Also, try different holidays for greeting cards.  Everyone sends cards around December.  These are appreciated but how about the other holidays.

Client birthdays - If you happen to know the birthday of your main contact at a client's company, be sure to put it on your calendar. Unlike major holidays, which are the same every year, it takes a little work to remember a client's birthday. Acknowledging the day with a card is a thoughtful gesture that your client will be sure to appreciate.

Thanksgiving - What better time to let a client know that you are thankful for their business, than at Thanksgiving? These cards don't have to be anything fancy -- just a high-quality, professional-looking card and a short, handwritten note letting your client know that you appreciate their continued business.

Fourth of July - Independence Day makes a great middle-of-the-year excuse to send out greeting cards to clients, but feel free to pick another summer holiday if you'd prefer. Inside the card, you can say you hope their summer is going well, and let them know that you are available for summer projects. Since some people take off or reduce their hours during the summer, this can be a valuable way to remind your clients that you are still open for business.

I have sent cards on Valentines Day that say "I love my clients."  It's just a fun way to get their attention. Even people who hate the holiday get the joke.