Editor's Note: This essay is part of our weekly #TimeLessWisdom series, in which we're highlighting one of the contributions from our 2012 book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. Learn more about the series.
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.
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 Web site again and again.
- Humanize your organization. Blogging adds a personal touch to your hospital Web site 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 Web sites with fresh information, and blogging is a powerful way to accomplish that.
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.
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: CEOs, 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.
Some 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! (Editor's note: Cliches too.)
- 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.
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.
Dan Hinmon is the Community Director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.
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