The Ultimate Guide to Using Twitter For Your Dermatology Practice

Are you interested in learning how to promote your dermatology practice on Twitter?

Compared to other social networks, Twitter is one of the simplest and most straightforward platforms you could ever use. The interface is simple and there are no privacy settings or new changes to deal with every few months.

In fact Twitter is perceived by physicians to be a more relevant platform for medical conversations than say, Facebook. Even with a limitation of 140 characters per tweet, Twitter is a great place for dermatologists to amplify your voice, accrue more influence, and extend your reach simply by leveraging this platform a few minutes each day. Here’s how to get started on Twitter.

Planning Phase

  1. Define your Goals – Decide what you are trying to achieve with Twitter. Your objectives should be specific, timely and measurable e.g. to grow your email list by 10% each month.
  2. Define your target audience – Apart from mere demographics you should have an in-depth understanding of your prospective patients’ health needs, challenges, frustrations, life-style goals and even their content preferences. This knowledge (gained through research) will help you to develop interesting content that draws them to you as a trusted source of relevant content.
  3. Understand how Hashtags work – A hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed by the pound symbol (#) e.g. #melanoma or #acne. It is a form of metadata tag used to group Twitter conversations into specific categories. Hashtags are becoming increasingly popular on Twitter as evidenced by the creation of the Healthcare Hashtag Project.

Create Your Account

  1. Create a Twitter account using the name of your business domain e.g. if your domain is, your Twitter profile should be @skindoctor.
  2. Write up a short bio or description of your profile using keywords that are both ‘Google-friendly’ and consistent with your practice e.g. skin care, etc.
  3. Include your location
  4. Add a link to your website
  5. Upload a logo or photo that is consistent with the branding of your practice
  6. Include an appealing Twitter background that complements your branding

Develop Your Tactics

  1. Follow selectively – focus on people and brands that add value to your business. Use tools such as Twellow or Tweepi to help you find relevant followers on Twitter.
  2. Use Twitter lists – A twitter list is a curated group of Twitter users that is based on specific characteristics. You may create your own list or subscribe to lists created by others. Here’s a step-by-step guide for using Twitter lists.
  3. Use time saving tools – Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer are complementary to Twitter because they help you manage your account and save time.
  4. Budget your time – allocate about 30 minutes each day to Twitter marketing. Within that time use your favorite tool (see #3) to schedule tweets, monitor conversations and ‘listen’ to what others are saying about you.
  5. Stay on-topic – It’s easy to get distracted on Twitter if you’re not focused. Stay on topic and ignore any conversations that are irrelevant to your practice. Lists and hashtags are effective in helping you stay on topic.
  6. Engage in conversations with others by asking or answering questions, recognizing and thanking people who share your content and so on.
  7. Add  “Follow me on Twitter” buttons in the top-right corner of your website, newsletter, email signature lines and all other digital marketing properties.
  8. Create great content that engages your target audience. And don’t forget to share other people’s content too, particularly when it is consistent with your own brand’s messaging.

Monitor your Progress

  1. Regularly check your mentions (@mentions) to see what people are saying about you
  2. Use Google analytics to see how much traffic is coming to your website from Twitter.
  3. Learn, Adjust, Repeat – be prepared to experiment with new tactics to learn what works for your practice and what doesn’t. If something isn’t working, be prepared to let it go, modify your strategy and keep testing for new opportunities.

What do you think? Twitter has become quite an impressive platform for promoting healthcare and medical brands. As a dermatologist what has been your experience so far?

5 Twitter Tips for Medical Professionals

Twitter. It’s a great tool for social media marketing if you know how to use it. But medical professionals and doctors may be resistant to using Twitter for a variety of reasons.

One is that they really don’t have the time to sit behind a computer desk and ‘tweet’ when they have real patients to take care of. Another reason doctors might resist Twitter is that it appears to be too disorganized, unstructured, and difficult to monitor.

But doctors who are expert Twitter-users will tell you that Twitter is worth taking the time to figure out especially because of its potent ability to amplify your voice above and beyond your current audience.

Here are 5 tips to help you start tweeting successfully:

#1. Be the expert that you are

As a medical professional, you have to be careful about the content that you share. Never, ever post any kind of patient information. Remember that Twitter is a public site and everything you share will leave a permanent trace on Google. Offer your expert knowledge and information that interests your target audience. Also be sure to provide relevant links to posts and articles that are pertinent to your work. Educate!

#2. Know your audience

Are you a pediatrician? Understand that your audience is comprised mostly of parents with young children and also other doctors or students with related interests. Once you understand who your audience is, then share with them information that helps and educates them.

#3. Keep it simple

Speak to the everyday person. Don’t use medical jargon and big words on Twitter. A new mom may not know the jargon that you know and might quickly tune out or lose interest in your message. By using vocabulary that most people understand you can reach a larger audience.

#4. Be relevant

Make sure your posts provide interesting and valuable information to your followers. They will appreciate your efforts and retweet your posts. This is an important step in building your community. By providing significant information to your target audience your followers will suggest your Twitter feed to other people with similar interests.

#5. Reach out to other professionals

Follow other healthcare professionals with similar audiences. Share information and possibly work together on creating educational articles. Retweet their information, and they will retweet yours. But be aware that Twitter can be a time-waster if you don’t know what you’re doing. So be sure to follow only those who add value to your work and feel free to ignore all others.

Key Takeaway

Twitter may seem to be an overwhelming and unstructured environment when you first start out. With time and patience you will discover that it is one of the best ecosystems on the Internet to discover and interact with interesting people in your field, as well as to amplify your own voice and reach a much bigger audience than you would have otherwise. For doctors, it is a great place to educate and share important information with your community.

Over to you: What kind of content do you usually share on Twitter?

Most People are Consumers Not Creators of Social Media Health Content

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014!

I thought I’d kick off the New Year discussing an interesting online trend – that most people are consumers rather than creators of health-related social media content.

I believe this is a pertinent discussion because as more healthcare organizations pursue larger online audiences, it’ll be increasingly important for them to understand the content habits of these audiences e.g. who are the creators vs. the consumers of content; where do they hang out; and why do they behave the way they do.

This type of persona insight is incredibly useful in helping healthcare marketers to segment and target their audiences more precisely.

So let’s get started.

In the beginning…

Historically (i.e. before Web 2.0) online health information seekers went to organization-sponsored websites (which were largely static webpages) to find what they were looking for.

Of course online content wasn’t democratized to the extent that it is now, where virtually anyone with a computer and Internet access can easily create or share their personal thoughts and ideas on the social web.

In fact the Internet was not originally created as a communication tool for social interaction – this is a more recent development.

What changed?

As people’s activities and communications on the Internet increased, it seemed useful to have more information about their social relationships. Hence the web evolved into a more social space rather than a technical one – it is now designed to help people share ideas and work together.

For example according to Technorati, there are nearly 1.3 million blogs online, 13% of Internet users have a Twitter account (140 million), Facebook has over 1 billion users, and by next year (2015) it is estimated that the number of organizations and people who use social media will reach over 3 billion – 3 billion, that’s almost half the world’s population!

To put it simply there’s a staggering number of people (73% of U.S. adults) using social media.

What about health-related social content?

When it comes to health-related information or discussions, a study done by the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that people are more comfortable consuming and sharing rather than creating content.

For example the study found that only 15% of respondents created online information while 30% to 40% reported consuming health-related social media content e.g. online rankings or reviews of doctors, hospitals and medical treatments. Take a closer look:

  • 41% of people consult (i.e. consume) online rankings and reviews of doctors, hospitals or medical treatments;
  • 31% consume social media content for health-related information;
  • 10% contribute (or create) content by posting reviews of doctors, hospitals, drugs and treatments;
  • 15% post a comment, question or information about health or medical issues on a blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, a website, or an online discussion forum.

The lack of active participation in health-related social media conversations is quite intriguing.

With so many people logging onto their social networks every day, how is it that most aren’t taking advantage of the inherent value of “social” media i.e. participating and contributing to online conversations. Instead they prefer to be passive listeners merely passing on information to their friends.

The study suggests a couple of reasons for this trend:

  • People have less encounters with doctors and medical professionals these days so they don’t have too many personal experiences to share;
  • People might feel incompetent about health-related discussions preferring to leave such discussions to the “experts”;
  • The third reason is my own – I think most people just don’t have the time to commit to content creation (even something as simple as leaving a comment) – it’s just one more thing they’d have to curve out time for from their busy schedules.

Among those who consume health-related social media content, women, young people and those suffering from chronic illnesses are at the top (no surprise there!).

However the latter group is more likely to contribute content since they have real-life experience living with a chronic illness, which makes them feel more knowledgeable and competent about expressing their opinions.

I have two things to say about this.

One, I think it’s great that those who suffer from chronic illnesses are willing to discuss their medical conditions and experiences, in the hope of helping someone else who is going through a similar situation.

What this tells me is that each patient is an expert, in the sense that he or she has a completely unique experience of living with a particular illness. Hence their contribution to online health-related content is equally valuable, to that of doctors, medical professionals and other ‘experts’.

Two, there are way too many people out there (90%) who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Is it that they are mere spectators, or are they waiting for the opportune moment to join the discussion. I’m not sure.

What I do know is that healthcare marketers must figure out a way to ‘draw out’ and engage these bystanders if they hope to segment and target audiences appropriately.

I think one way to do this is to invite willing content consumers (e.g. those women, young people and the chronically ill) to contribute user-generated content on organization-sponsored blogs. It seems to me that they’d be more likely to draw other users like themselves into the conversation.

Over to you

What do you think? Has the social web turned people into mere consumers rather than creators of health content? How can we change this trajectory?

Social Listening for Healthcare Marketers: 4 Steps for Success

Are you in charge of managing social media at your healthcare organization?

Whether you’ve been around social media for a while or you’re new to the game, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘social listening.’

Social media listening is the continuous process of identifying and monitoring what’s being said about your organization online.

It’s not something that you do once (say at the beginning of your social media launch). It’s something that you do all the time – in the beginning, in the middle and throughout your social media campaign.

Why Listen?

Social media listening is important for two reasons:

  • To identify unmet needs and respond quickly to those who need your help.
  • To uncover potential problems that could potentially hurt your brand.

But according to a report by McKinsey most healthcare organizations have not been able to capitalize on social media listening because the insights are not well understood or applied.

Benefits of Social Listening

The beauty of social listening (a.k.a social media monitoring) is that you don’t have to do the talking – all you’re required to do (at first!) is pay attention to what other people are saying.

Social listening helps you provide better responses because you understand:

  • Who is engaging in conversation on a brand or therapeutic topic;
  • Where they are engaging;
  • What treatment solutions they found helpful;
  • What are their unmet needs.

So how do you get started? Here are four steps to help you become successful in social media listening:

#1. Set up Policy

Set up internal regulations or guidelines to help you govern your social media activities. Involve your legal department to ensure that your social media policies are HIPPA compliant.

Although there’s a lot of work involved at this stage, it will save you some serious headaches down the road.

#2. Get Educated

Brush up on your social media literacy – Read relevant blogs, attend social media conferences and webinars, and become familiar with the language used in social media conversations and related analytics.

Keep in mind that social media platforms change often and it’s important for you to keep up with the latest trends so that you’re more effective in representing your organization.

#3. Get the Tools…Get to Work

Get the right tools and resources for listening. There are many free and paid resources for listening, understanding and helping you to apply the information you have gathered. As you start to dig deeper into the process, make sure you understand:

  • Where your patients are hanging out online e.g. online support groups, blogs etc.
  • The language that patients use to describe themselves. For example one pharmaceutical company was surprised to discover that rheumatoid arthritis patients refer to themselves as “rheumies.” As you do your keyword research, keep in mind that patients may not always use the same words that you do.
  • What their challenges or unmet needs are. For example you might discover that most diabetes patients hate pricking their fingers for blood-glucose monitoring.

#4. Integrate Insights

Integrate the insights you have gained to your planning process. For example in the above example about diabetes patients, your company can use those insights to launch a new pain-free product.

Quick Wrap Up

Social media listening is a great opportunity for healthcare marketers to gain deeper understanding about target audiences, and to uncover potential problems before they become serious.

But the real value happens when healthcare organizations can translate those insights into solutions that resonate deeply with patients, providers and other stakeholders.

Your Turn:

How do you use social listening to gain insights from target audiences, patients and consumers?

5 Ways to Engage Women in Social Media & Public Health

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a Google Hangout panel hosted by Danya International, to discuss how to engage women in social media and public health.

The discussion focused on opportunities and challenges faced by healthcare communicators in both public and private sectors when using social media to engage women in healthcare conversations. Among the talented group of ladies in the panel were Pam Moore, Rebecca Aguilar, Barbara Ficarra, Dr. Sandra Ford, and Michele Late.

Happy gesturing young cheerful smiling business woman , isolated over white background

Here are 5 key highlights from our discussion:

#1. Women want credible online health information

When women look for health information online, they do so as caregivers to their children, spouses and other family members. This is a very personal thing. It’s important to them that the information they find is credible and accurate.

Blogs written by non-medical professionals won’t do. In fact even writers who are paid by health organizations are not necessarily believable either. What women want is trustworthy information that is backed up by credible sources and professional medical perspectives.

#2.  Health campaigns using social media must approach women and men differently

Women and men use social media differently. Women like to talk and share things that are more personal in nature. Men don’t. Women also don’t mind being vulnerable and leaning on each other for support, as long as privacy and trust are emphasized.

What this means for healthcare communicators is that while women are open to having discussions that promote healthy lifestyles, they will only do so in a group of friends and trusted peers. Your challenge is to figure out how to enter those conversations or facilitate new conversations that include women and their trusted networks.

#3. Healthcare communicators stand out by helping not selling

With so much content competing for our attention online, healthcare communicators who want to stand out above the noise must offer simple, relevant, interesting and useful information that helps to solve the problems that women face.

The idea of pushing marketing messages must be resisted at all costs – those types of messages will only be ignored.  Websites such as WebMD and MayoClinic understand that to attract huge female audiences, their content must help not sell.

#4. Vanity metrics are less important than engagement metrics for health campaigns

This was an interesting point of discussion. Generally we agreed that it’s more important to have 100 Facebook fans or Twitter followers who are genuinely interested and engaged with your content, than 10,000 fans who never interact with your social media posts.

Business performance

The goal of most healthcare campaigns is to influence healthy decision-making and positive life-style choices, so it’s important that audiences respond and give feedback about their own experiences. When looking at Facebook or Twitter metrics for your healthcare campaign, it’s extremely important to look at Likes, comments, re-tweets, mentions and shares, as a measure of a successful campaign.

#5. Women use mobile differently from men…even for health information!

Did you know that 33% of female cell-phone owners use their phones to search for health information compared to 29% of male cell-phone owners? Did you also know that even though men text more than women, women are more likely to sign up for health text alerts? (Pew Research).

Women are primary care givers in the family. They’re also more likely to seek online support when they become pregnant, try to quit smoking, struggle with their weight or go through a significant life change. In the U.S. healthcare communicators should leverage mobile apps to reach these women, while keeping in mind that women will check to verify the credibility of the company behind those apps. However, text messages being more globally ubiquitous than smart-phone apps are likely to have wider reach especially in countries where smart-phone penetration is not far-reaching due to economic or financial reasons.

For the full-length panel discussion, check out the YouTube video here.

Your Turn:

What do you think? How do you think healthcare communicators can engage women in social media and public health?

8 Things Healthcare Should Know Before Launching a Content Marketing Campaign

It’s interesting.

Healthcare has taken longer than other industries to get into content and social media marketing. In fact to their credit, many healthcare marketers I’ve talked to are not interested in ‘me-too’ strategies.

They want to know ‘the why’ of content marketing. Many of them understand the concept though not necessarily the strategy, and they’re asking some really good questions. I strongly believe this is the right way to go.

So if you’re a healthcare marketer who’s feeling the pressure to launch a content marketing campaign just because everyone else has, don’t.

Content marketing is a long term commitment. And while it is a beneficial strategy used by industry giants such as Johns Hopkins and GE Healthcare, beginners should give themselves enough time to be thorough, and to ask the right questions. Here are eight things you should know before you begin.

#1. What’s the goal?

Your organization has specific business or financial goals it needs to achieve, such as lowering costs, increasing patient acquisition or physician retention and so on. Before you launch a content marketing program, you should be able to identify how the new campaign will contribute directly to these goals.

Launching a patient education blog for example should attract people who are searching for online health information, and thus convert them into actual patients.

#2. What makes you interesting?

People want to share and discuss interesting information on the social web. The question that healthcare marketers (even those of boring brands) must ask themselves is, “What makes our organization so interesting that people will want to talk about it with their friends.”

It’s hard to succeed in content marketing if you have nothing compelling to share. Find out what makes you interesting or different from other organizations, and plan how to showcase that in your content marketing properties.

#3. Do you really know your customers?

Think of customers as people with needs and challenges, rather than people who can buy your products and improve your bottom line. Yes, content marketing is a business strategy. But unless you help others first, don’t expect a profitable exchange to take place.

Helping people means you have to understand them (and their problems) first, before they ever open up their wallets. The best way to discover who your customers really are for the purpose of content marketing is to develop patient personas.

#4. What do they want?

It’s safe to assume that every one of us is at some stage in the wellness journey. Which means we will all at some point need a doctor, a hospital or just a simple band aid. But talking endlessly about your comic hero band aid brand, won’t get me to buy it. In fact, I’ll simply tune you out.

However if you understand my lifestyle as a mom of (several) young boys, boys who climb and fall from trees, and my desire to keep them safe (i.e. not bleeding), then I might be interested in what you have to say. Are you acquainted with the lifestyles of your customers? Again, deeper insights about your customers are obtained through research (see #3).

#5. What kind of message will appeal?

Related to #4 is the idea that your message has to appeal to potential customers. Remember that they’re not interested in your product. At least not at first. They are interested in how you can provide for their lifestyle, or make their dreams come true.

People are tired of being sold to and traditional marketing is becoming less and less relevant. Smart healthcare marketers understand this. Rather than pitching your products, deliver information that will make your customers more intelligent. Ultimately they will reward your valuable information with their business and loyalty.

#6. Where do we need to be?

If you understand your customers (beyond demographics) and where they hang out both online and offline, you can determine which platforms you need to reach them. For instance plastic surgeons have a lot of success on Facebook (due to the image-friendly environment where they can share before-and-after pictures).

However it’s equally important to be where your story will flourish the most. Sometimes that means that you may also have to go offline and meet your customers at in-person events.

#7. Who’s going to do the work?

Content marketing is about giving away so much free information, that you actually become a publisher. This is hard for healthcare marketers whose primary task is to promote the organization’s products or services.

Yet content has to be planned, created, and published on a regular basis. Before you launch a content marketing campaign, you should determine if you have in-house talent to get the job done, or whether you need to outsource the work. It’s short-sighted to start a blog, only to realize you don’t have the time or resources to keep it going. Plan ahead.

#8. How will we know this is working?

Content for content’s sake is no strategy at all. The only reason why a healthcare brand should launch a content marketing campaign is to move your subscribers in the direction you want them to move, and that includes buying your stuff. If your campaign is working then you’ll see some of these goals come to fruition.

The best way to measure success is to have measurable goals to begin with. So if you start off with a goal of acquiring 25 new patients within three months, it’s easy to see how well your efforts are working simply be calculating how many new patients you have acquired since you started.

Your Turn:

Intrigued? If you have any questions about healthcare content strategy, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

5 Reasons Why Concierge Practices Should Blog

Are you a physician or physician group that has recently established a concierge practice? Are you wondering how to market your new practice?

The most challenging part about marketing a new concierge practice, is to sign up enough patients to make it profitable within a relatively short time.

If you’re like most physicians you’re a medical professional at heart, not a marketer. It’s not a simple thing for you to switch hats from doctor to business owner. It’s even harder with a new practice when there’s not much money coming in.

Beyond SEO here are 5 reasons why blogging could be your best marketing strategy especially in the early months of your concierge practice:

#1. Educate Patients About Concierge Model

When you first establish your concierge practice, many people will not understand how this model of medicine works.

Through blogging, you can share stories that explain how your practice works and what patients can expect. You can also discuss typical illnesses and diseases that you treat. By offering health tips and advice on your blog, many of the questions prospective patients would ask during a visit are eliminated, thus giving you more time to get to know them and develop meaningful bonds with them. And isn’t that what concierge medicine is all about after all?

#2. Get More business

According to a Hubspot report businesses (of any kind) that blog have more consistent sales than those that don’t.

These days patients start their journey to wellness online. They search for terms that describe a condition or symptom they have. If you blog consistently using keywords that are relevant to prospective patients, you stand a high chance of attracting those digital searchers who are interested in your content and your services.

#3. Set Yourself Apart

Most physicians – not just concierge practitioners – have been slow to take up blogging and social media. They just don’t have the time, considering how many patients they see in a day.

Even for concierge doctors who have more flexibility with their schedules, blogging is simply not high on their to-do list. This is a mistake since traditional marketing is fading or becoming too expensive, while content marketing – of which blogging is a part – is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your practice.

If you or your staff don’t have the time to blog, why not hire a writer to blog and help increase the online visibility of your practice. The interesting content on your blog will stand out from your competitors’ boring websites thus driving more traffic and patients to your practice.

#4. Build Likeability, Trust and Sales

The thing about blogging for business is that it helps clients to get to know you before they ever step foot inside your office. When you publish engaging content that helps people with their health problems it shows that you’re not just interested in selling but in helping them as well. This generates trust, likeability and over time, more sales.

Concierge websites that only talk about the practice and their services are self-focused and don’t appeal to savvy digital patients.

#5. Get Better Insights About Prospective Patients

When you first start to blog you’re forced to research the target audience that you’re trying to reach. It’s no longer enough to know their age, gender, and marital status. You should know their frustrations, life-styles, interests, goals, dreams and so on.

By doing the research on your patients you become better equipped to understand what they’re going through and to develop unique content that deeply resonates with them. Blogging also creates a two-way conversation channel that encourages comments, feedback and interaction, giving you clear insights on what your patients want.

Your Turn

Concierge practices have a lot to offer communities and patients (especially with the gradual phasing in of Obamacare). However, with so little public knowledge about how they work and what patients can expect, blogging is a great tool for patient education and relationship building. Does your concierge practice have a blog? How has it impacted your patients?

5 Content Strategies for Boring Healthcare Brands

If people aren’t talking about you, they’re not talking about you for a reason. And the reason isn’t that they dislike you. They’re not talking about you because you’re boring.” ~ Seth Godin

The formidable challenge for healthcare marketers of boring brands is that you have to present content that is remarkable and interesting, even when your product or service —on the face of it—is not.

Let’s face it. Not every healthcare marketer has the advantage of selling sexy products such as face lifts, tummy tucks, or breast implants. But the fact is, boring products solve legitimate problems too. Extracting wisdom teeth or doing colonoscopies may not sound terribly exciting, but these services are extremely important, even helping save people’s  lives.

So, how do you get prospective patients or caregivers excited about the services you provide?

The key is to tell (many) original, meaningful stories, such as this one from Cleveland Clinic:

Every healthcare brand has a unique story about its origin, people and experiences. The solution is to find an authentic theme, apply creative imagination and tell your story in a way that will attract and retain people’s attention. What was widely perceived to be boring could become inspiring or at least interesting to a large group of people.

If your healthcare brand is one that solves a problem but doesn’t easily spark the imagination, here are five brand content strategies you can use to change the way people perceive you.

#1. Come to the rescue

Just like good brands, good content solves problems. Boring brands have the same opportunity as everyone to share information that improves customers’ lives or helps them to do their jobs better.

Roberts and Durkee knows this. In 2008, this run-of-the-mill law firm used content marketing to become the de facto consumer advocate for victims of the Chinese drywall problem that hit the US market toward the middle of the decade.

They created a website/blog called to help thousands of Florida homeowners whose homes were built with toxic drywall. The website provided pertinent information such as how to identify contaminated drywall, the toxins’ health implications, and the victims’ legal rights. This content strategy established Roberts and Durkee as the expert in Chinese drywall problems and resulted in tremendous business opportunities for the firm.

To create content that solves problems, ask yourself:

  • What kinds of health-related emergencies are happening in my community?
  • Are there particular groups in need of someone to speak up for them?
  • How can I create content that helps them resolve these problems?

#2. Reach out to your community

If your product does not generate excitement, create content that showcases your readers’ lifestyles, interests and passions instead. Focus your content on the consumer rather than the product and encourage conversations that resonate with your community.

Procter & Gamble – the makers of Gillette razors, Head & Shoulders shampoo and other everyday brands – created as “the real man’s magazine,” packed with compelling advice on guy-to-guy topics such as money, careers, gadgets, parenting and, of course, sex.

The site specifically targets young dads and connects with them via Facebook and Twitter as well. By December 2010, attracted over half a million unique visitors per month.

To reach your community with your content, ask yourself:

  • Who do I want to attract?
  • What is their lifestyle?
  • What are their interests and preferences?
  • How can I provide a forum for them to discuss these issues in a conversational, entertaining fashion?

#3. Do something completely unexpected

No matter what kind of healthcare product or service you offer, there’s no reason to be boring. Any product can be presented in a way that is interesting, appealing, even surprising!

Agilent Technologies produces measurement instruments that help scientists, researchers and engineers measure variables in chemical analysis, life sciences and electronics. Ho hum, right? On the contrary.

Going completely against type, Agilent resisted the typical dry technicalities in favor of the truly unexpected: a video puppet show. The highly engaging Agilent Puppet Chemistry is so far removed from the company’s brand image, it immediately disarms, intrigues and captures the audience.

And that audience consists of scientists and chemists who work in research and forensic labs – an audience that is relying more heavily on the internet to research instruments and platforms. This technique proved to be highly successful for Agilent, increasing traffic to their website and encouraging more prospects to click through in search of more information.

Want to go against the grain?

Brainstorm a list of adjectives that describe your healthcare brand and then research their opposites. For example if your organization has a serious, demanding and dull environment, you could research ideas that are entertaining, relaxing and fresh. Then create a mix of content that matches those ideas and presents your company in a totally unexpected way.

#4. Play to your strengths

A lot of people equate content with writing. But writing (blogs, e-books, white papers, books, etc.) is just one way to create content – and it’s not for everyone.

No one knows this better than Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of Wine Library TV. Gary, by his own admission, couldn’t write to save his life. So he doesn’t. He video blogs…and he does it extremely well.

His very informal yet highly energetic style, frequently described as an unpretentious, gonzo approach to wine appreciation, offers a stark contrast to everyone else’s dry, conservative approach to wine culture. Most wine bloggers simply publish a written article and then wait for visitors to subscribe. Gary, on the other hand, loves the camera, is passionate about wine and comes across like a familiar dinner guest, relaxing in your living room.

To play to your own strengths, ask yourself:

  • How do you prefer to express yourself? If you enjoy being in front of the camera, try video blogging and inject your own personality into the content.  If you prefer to look people in the eye and feed off of their energy, speaking engagements or training opportunities might be your vehicle.
  • Do people easily recognize your gifts or talents? Perhaps you’ve been told that you have a ‘golden voice’ or a ‘way with words.’  Maybe they’re onto something. Explore your talents and find a complementary outlet to express them.

#5. Encourage people to talk…about anything

Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research Analyst and co-author of Groundswell, recommends that boring brands encourage people to talk–even if it isn’t about the brand itself. By borrowing a relevant topic and encouraging conversations about it, boring brands become part of the conversation.

Social media presents the perfect opportunity to apply this “borrowed relevance,” as Bernoff calls it, because conversations are already taking place there that are not product-centric, pushy or self-promotional.

A good example is Liberty Tax, a tax service franchise (yawn)…with a Facebook audience of over 6,000 people!  A quick look at their Wall reveals how they use a variety of tactics to engage their customers and create a lively atmosphere. They discuss Groupon deals, hold photo contests, show appreciation to different members of the community (teachers, policemen and firefighters, etc.), and so on. They also make taxes fun (no, really!) by giving away free tax apps, and offering advice and tips on little-known tax credits, refunds, etc.

Without a doubt, stories are the key to a boring brand’s problems. After all, if you don’t have a remarkable product, you might as well have remarkable content. Don’t you agree?

Your Turn:

Is your healthcare business fighting against being boring? What strategies have you employed?

New Facebook Insights: What Healthcare Marketers Should Know

Do you have access to the new Facebook Insights?

Whether you do or not, it’s important to know that Facebook has ‘upgraded’ the way you analyze your page data. In a sense, this is good news because the new Insights present data in a way that is well organized and easy to understand.

Improved Insights

Previously you had insights that were a tad bit confusing and not very useful in helping you understand how to manage your page. For example the ‘people talking about this’ metric – which has now been replaced with a new engagement metric – was not very effective because it wasn’t clear what you were supposed to do with that information.

In contrast the new Insights feature is clear, user-friendly and self-explanatory. In fact Facebook has provided a pretty helpful tour demonstrating what the new metrics mean. Here is an in-depth review of the new Facebook Insights.

All in all, I think this is a big improvement in terms of providing more meaningful data in an easy-to-understand fashion.

However, I believe healthcare marketers should be extremely cautious about relying too much on Facebook Insights. Here’s why.

High Maintenance

When the method of analyzing data changes all the time, it becomes difficult to rely on the data – not because there’s anything wrong with the data, but because the platform itself is too ‘high-maintenance,’ thus making the whole experience for page admins (that’s you!) cumbersome.

In fact the 2013 Social Media Industry Report shows that two-thirds of marketers are actually uncertain about the effectiveness of their Facebook marketing. What this tells me is that while marketers (across all industries) consider Facebook to be an important platform, they’re really struggling to figure out how it works. Subsequently there’s a lot of confusion about what kind of content is needed to attract and engage audiences on Facebook.

Poor Platform for Healthcare Conversations

The other reason I think healthcare marketers shouldn’t be too swayed by this feature is that Facebook doesn’t appear to be the best place for healthcare conversations.

Privacy settings are nebulous and the risk of engagement is higher than say, on Twitter. Twitter is simple and straight-forward and in fact the quality of medical conversations happening there is remarkable when you compare it with Facebook. But don’t take my word for it. Go here to see what physicians using social media think of Facebook.

Case Studies

For example if you look at Sanjay Gupta’s Facebook page you’ll notice that the only posts he has are occasional  links. In fact the last time I checked, he hadn’t posted anything on his Facebook page since August 2012. If you compare that with his Twitter profile, you see a lot of activity, which consists of links, conversations, quotes, questions and advice. In other words his conversations on Twitter are much more interesting than his Facebook conversations.

Another top doctor, Kevin Pho (also known as social media’s leading physician voice) has a bigger Facebook page than Sanjay Gupta’s, in terms of fan-base but again the scattered likes and relatively few comments seem to indicate a generally disengaged audience. Not so on his Twitter profile where engagement with his 77,000 followers has earned him a Klout score of 74. (Yes, I realize Klout is another controversial metric but I hope you get the point!).

Why Blogging is Better

As a healthcare marketer you cannot afford to put all your eggs in this basket. Facebook is simply one (and not the best!) tool among many, for educating and engaging with patients. When it comes to patient education, the best platform will always be your blog.

Focus on publishing relevant, problem-solving content on your blog on a consistent basis. For healthcare marketers blogging is actually more beneficial than relying on Facebook because your blog is the hub of your content, is not subject to frequent changes, and you have full control over it.

Your Turn:

As a healthcare marketer, what do you think about the new Facebook Insights? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.