So you want to write a blog and post on social media?
Today’s digital marketing requires more than just a static website. Social media and blogging have become popular ways for practices to boost their online presence. Baby boomers are active on social media and blogging offers a great way to increase your SEO — so both activities attract potential patients — but thinking a blog needs to be a 2,000-word article or that posts always need to present new content can stifle the work that needs to be done.
To help get you started on your path to delivering online content, here are some tips to consider when starting:
- Develop a realistic schedule. Posting once a week on Facebook for a year provides more information to your patients than posting every day for one month. Similarly, a monthly blog ensures articles are up-to-date. Make sure you’re providing interesting content on a regular basis. No one likes reading a blog with outdated content!
- Provide relevant information. Don’t focus on one patient demographic. Instead, make sure you’re developing a mix of content that is useful for current hearing aid users, prospective patients, custom hearing protection for musicians or loud work conditions, and general hearing health information.
- Keep it personal. Your relationship with each patient is the basis of your practice. While you do want to be professional, you should make your posts relatable and inject your personality into your writing.
Here are a few tips for starting a social media strategy:
- Share content. Social media content need not be new or original all the time. Sharing video clips from relevant TV shows or news broadcasts, articles from scientific studies, and manufacturers’ posts can make up as much as 50 percent of your social media content.
- Create relevant stories. When creating your own posts, steer clear of the hard sell! Event invites, product announcements, patient testimonials, and introductions to blog posts are all great ways to get traction through social media.
- Have fun. Every so often, pepper fun human-interest content into the mix. Everyone likes a heartwarming video of a baby getting their first hearing aids. If you live in a tightknit community, local events outside of hearing might be relevant as well! Make it personal occasionally — do your patients know you’re in a tribute band? Feel free to let them know where you’re playing next.
Interested in blogging? Here are some tactics to get you started:
- Write for your patients. While you may be interested in scientific journals, it just may be too in-depth for your patients. You can always feature a study, but write about how that study relates to your patients and their hearing health. Also, 400 words is a good length — a little more or a little less is okay, too!
- Think in keywords. Including industry-relevant keywords throughout your blog makes the content search friendly and can increase your rankings in search engine results. Search engines have gotten smarter, so you no longer have to repeat the same phrase over and over again. Instead, include different variations of your SEO keywords. For example, if there is a new product launch, use the manufacturer and product names both together and separately throughout the blog.
- Plan ahead. Consistent blog writing is much easier to commit to when you have a plan in place. This limits the chance that you’ll get writers block because you feel you must get a blog out today. Keeping a content calendar will allow you to plan for event-related invitation blogs and product releases that may provide you with some pre-written content.
As digital marketing trends continue to evolve, social media and blogging are great ways to develop an up-to-date digital experience for both your current and prospective patients. If you have concerns that planning for and implementing these tactics will take too much time away from your patients, let the Consult YHN marketing team recommend a solution for you!
Rachel Atar joined Consult YHN in 2015 as Marketing Account Executive. With experience in multiple industries, Rachel has consistently helped small businesses navigate marketing for their end consumers. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was Taylored Home Health Care’s Marketing Manager.
How Content is Connected to Website Optimization and How to Include it in Your Marketing Strategy!
As marketing professionals, we hear questions from our Associates daily regarding how to best reach their target audience. More and more, these questions are focused on digital marketing.
How do I get to the top of Google search results?
Why do I need to do anything to market my website; won’t customers just find me?
I started my practice to help patients not write. Who else can update my website?
I know I should start doing digital marketing, but how do I start?
In today’s business environment, it’s important to have a content-rich website. Studies show 75% of the 57-65 age bracket are internet users1. Another study has shown 71% of baby boomers use the internet when making purchasing decisions2. There is no denying that hearing health patients are already online and using the internet for purchasing decisions, which is why updating website content is critical in driving customers to your site.
In order to reach the web-savvy baby boomers, you’ll need a strategy to optimize your website, including routine updates. Your strategy may include:
- Increasing traffic to your website through keywords
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to improve your site’s search engine ranking (AKA getting to the top of Google via a keyword search). One tactic to organically optimize your site is to include relevant SEO keywords within the content; Google differentiates between websites with fresh, relevant information and those which have never or seldom been updated. By regularly updating the content on your site, you may just pull ahead of your competitor across town when people search for providers in your area.
- Blogging to position yourself as an expert
We’ve all run across websites with forgotten offers that have long since expired, displaying the “newest” must have product (which is five years old), or a blog post referencing an outdated study. Because this type of neglect does exist, you can use it to your advantage. By bringing new technology to the forefront and discussing industry trends on your blog page, you provide your online audience with timely, educational content that establishes your expertise. Positioning yourself as an industry expert allows you to differentiate your services from the competition which lets you focus on adding value to the customer experience.
- Strengthen your brand awareness online to increase referrals
Your brand is your non-verbal “voice,” letting patients know who you are, what they can expect from your services, and what sets you apart from your competitors. Maybe you were born with a hearing loss and that’s why you focus on treating pediatric hearing loss. Are you the go-to provider for patients with complicated hearing issues? Today, practices can be deeply affected by how their brand is defined online and, in turn, how they are talked about in-person. A continually updated, content-rich website ensures your online “voice” features information that sets you apart from your competition and lets patients know how and why you work hard to provide quality care. When your online presence is strong, current patients can feel good about referring their loved one to your site for more information, and a word-of-mouth referral is the strongest referral you can receive.
- Attracting repeat buyers
Since hearing aids are not necessarily a one-time purchase, visitors to your website may be current patients who are due for an upgrade and want to preview technology advancements. When you have a website that presents techniques for maintaining hearing health, explains the outcome of a new study, and features the newest hearing instruments, those customers will remember why they chose you and your practice in the first place – you’re an industry expert that stays abreast of the latest in hearing healthcare! This encourages repeat business as customers decide to upgrade their devices.
Updating the content on your website with new and relevant information is a critical tactic in driving traffic to your website. Make sure your website can be found when baby boomers – the age bracket with the biggest uptick in online and social media usage – are researching hearing health-related information. Regardless of whether you update your site in-house or hire a digital marketing partner, content creation needs to be an integral part of your web marketing strategy. Implementing this type of activity will help you gain new clients, service repeat patients, strengthen your online reputation, and take on your competitors!
When I began my career in marketing over a decade ago, my world was very different. Reflecting upon this time with what I now know, I admit that there was a lot of guesswork, trial and error was often a “strategy,” and the concept of tracking was a “nice to have.” It wasn’t just because it was early in my own career; it’s just how things were done. At the time, most of my clients were focused on their newspaper and direct mail efforts and were obsessed with the creative side of things. They reluctantly dabbled in digital media [which was barely a “thing”] with a “state-of-the-art” HTML website – and this was only when they had a few dollars left in the budget and were told ad nauseam it was a good idea. These approaches were acceptable for the time, but there’s been a LOT of evolution at a breakneck pace over the past decade. As a marketer, I’ve continued to run to keep up [and have enjoyed every minute of it]!
Truth be told, during the early 2000’s it was a bit of a “churn and burn” approach to marketing – which campaign can we implement now to obtain a few new customers, never to think about them again after purchase? Since there wasn’t much data analysis, when a client “felt” like something didn’t work, they’d pull the plug and often prematurely abort an otherwise successful program. Plus, social media was in its infancy and you were lucky if you carried the latest flip phone…
Fast forward to [almost] 2015 and it’s truly a different world. There are many things I’m grateful for – the focus on segmented, targeted messaging, a high level of importance placed on tracking and analytics and the power of the consumer. The last point might be the most significant switch – as marketers we need to constantly focus on customer experience, retention and communication preference. This concept is a wonderful touchstone to consider when planning and implementing marketing strategies. We now find ourselves continuously asking: What resonates with the customer? How do they like to be reached [via text, email, direct mail, etc.]? What does “great” look like to them? How can we better reach, speak with and connect with our customer?
Successful communication with the customer is hinged upon targeted messaging via the appropriate medium, not just about the creative campaign – this is a significant cultural shift in the world of marketing. The mass messaging approach of yester year is a waste of time, energy and resources. Today’s consumer is highly educated and motivated to purchase based on their needs and preferred buying habits. Understanding these preferences – and communicating to each consumer in a relevant way – is the key to capturing their business, making them a repeat buyer and [hopefully] obtaining referrals for your business and/or product.
The main way today’s consumers become so informed and savvy is through online research, including price shopping, product reviews, and referrals from peer-to-peer interactions [social media]. These are the main reasons that today’s marketing strategies and tactics are so digitally focused. It’s important for potential clients to be able to find your business via online mediums. You’ll want to ensure that you’re online reputation is stellar; this is accomplished through online reviews, social media exposure and ongoing content [regular blog postings].
Regardless of the industry, times change and marketing is often a significant driving force. I know that both my professional and personal experiences have changed because of marketing. Those who pay attention to the changes, embrace the journey and transform along the way are the ones who’ll have the most success!
We learned in kindergarten that honesty is the best policy but how many of us actually apply this advice on a daily basis? In a culture that’s increasingly driven by countless forms of communication resulting in 24-hour access with fewer and fewer chances to be ‘off the grid,’ has it become easier to stretch the truth, feign ignorance or simply lie? According to Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication and information science at Cornell University, being perceived as deceptive can seriously harm reputations and relationships, regardless of the medium. His studies have also shown [surprisingly] that we tend to lie less online than in person or over the telephone; perhaps it’s because our online, documented posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will be around for a long time. As a business owner, the type of communication you put in front of your audience adds up – and honesty is a big part of tipping the scales in your favor.
Enter social media.
Honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for business or Pinterest, Instgram or YouTube for pleasure, have you thought about how you are representing yourself online? The first thing to do is learn how to engage online responsibly and assume you are speaking in public at all times. We’ll say it again: the internet is not forgiving; posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will live on for the foreseeable future. Make sure your professional social presence is one you are proud of now and will be in years to come.
Also, be yourself – honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging. Customers, or potential customers, will respect genuine communication that matters to them. For instance, use the 4-1-1 rule; post 4 interesting, funny or informational ideas, 1 promotional post and 1 re-post [share with a friend, answer a question, hit the ‘like’ button, etc.], all of which need to be relevant to your audience. Regardless of whether you post a few times daily or a few times per month, follow the rule above for a targeted strategy that will resonate with your audience. And as a general rule, before posting on any social medium, ask yourself if the information is honest and relevant.
The review sites.
Here’s where honesty may be most beneficial. What happens when online reviews about your business begin popping up via Yelp and Google? If they are positive, great! But what about the other side of that coin? We’d all like to think that we give 100% all day every day, but the reality is that sometimes we fall short. It’s inevitable that you’ll see a less than stellar business review at some point. When confronted with this ‘bad’ review, it’s how you handle this perceived setback that can set you apart.
Be courageous in the face of bad news, honorably standing tall despite conflict [even if you suspect the negative review is the handiwork of your competitor down the street]. If tempted to avoid the issue, or to make an excuse, think of how you’d feel if a comment you made went unaddressed or simply ignored. Not pleased, right? Human beings are deeply attracted to courageous honesty, but sometimes when we are on the other side of the complaint it’s difficult not to be defensive. It’s best to apologize and do everything we can to make things right — right away. A February 2014 study by the Social Media Marketing University found that 52% of US marketers respond to negative online comments within 24 hours. That means responding diplomatically to the comment online, calling the customer [if you can] and remedying the situation ASAP! The Retail Consumer Report found that of consumers who received a reply in response to their negative review, 33% posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. That means by handling the issue, you might even get that nasty, negative comment retracted!
It will work. Honest.
If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about why you get up every day, this honesty task will be a piece of cake. Communicating with a broader audience is easier today than ever before, but remember, your message needs to be relevant, timely and genuine.
An effective website should be the primary tool in your overall digital marketing plan. It must be a brand-consistent portal that attracts patients, differentiates your practice, and enhances your reputation. As such, the primary method of conveying these objectives to prospective (and current) customers is via content. But, make no mistake; this should not be “copy” as we are conditioned to call it after years of being exposed to hokey TV advertising dramas.
No, today’s marketing is all about content. It’s simple (the distinction, not the actual content), reflecting on the two terms. Copy refers to the words that fill a brochure or traditional marketing component – and even found on your website – in the areas of About Us, Directions, Hours, Contact Us, and the like. Content on the other hand is all about the consumers’ needs. This is the information people search for, it’s the reason they are looking for your products, services, and solutions.
All consumers research via the web today. No matter what age they are, or what services they are seeking. This makes content a critical component of your online (digital marketing) program. You need to anticipate what they will be looking for, and provide it. Right away, as in today… and with frequency too, because Google (all of the search engines) reward websites that stay current and add new material actively.
How will you decide what to write? Simple, just ask yourself, and your staff: what questions do we get from new/prospective patients? (Do the same for your existing patients too) Think about how you respond to those questions, and then write material to do the same thing for you for those folks who you have not met yet. Use the same “voice” or tone as you would in conversation – it will carry over and represent you more accurately than a formal thesis or clinical summary.
Still stuck for ideas?
Here are three types of content we typically create for websites:
The news roundup uses curated content to gain the attention of specific prospects. Gather two to four pieces of current information on a theme and bring them together in a single posting that summarizes the topic and offers a connection with your practice’s perspective.
This is content that has appeared on another site (manufacturer, supplier, partner, industry news, etc.) that you may link back to in order to bring relevant material to your audience. It may highlight a subject matter expert’s work or rely on another’s reputation as an industry thought leader. To respect copyright, we always link to the original site. Regardless, the service you are doing for your audience is to have already conducted a search, found the most relevant information, and brought it forward for their attention. It establishes your practice as current, knowledgeable, and focused.
Subject Matter Expert Interview
This is exclusive content created from an interview with a subject matter expert (most likely you, or others on your team) for their perspective on a relevant topic. It provides a platform for credibility and professionalism, as well as lets you determine the exact amount and direction of the discussion. Content can be formatted in several ways: a written Q&A, a one-on-one interview, a panel discussion, a podcast, video interview, etc. (keeping in mind that content is not limited to just text – it will also include images and video).
Incorporating a digital component into your marketing plan is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. In order to stay relevant with your current target audience and your next generation of customers, it’s imperative to have a strong website presence. And once you have that website presence, it’s just as important for customers to be able to find you online. That’s where SEO comes in as a strategy that will help drive traffic to your website and customers through your door.
What is SEO? The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Why is it important? Search engines, such as Google and Bing, comb the World Wide Web for content. It’s important for websites to have lots of industry relevant content ‘baked into’ the pages, files, backend, etc. Because search engines focus on creating the best possible user experience for consumers, you’ll want to make sure that when consumers are searching for something to do with your industry they see a link to your website.
What does this mean for your website? Since consumers [or your potential customers] use search engines to help find what they are looking for on the web, you want to make sure they can find your website. When someone inputs a particular keyword phrase into Google [‘hearing devices,’ for example], the search engines navigate through aforementioned content such as documents, pages, files, news, videos and media to find the most relevant results. Then, the search engine ranks their findings in order of perceived usefulness/relevance related back to the search term [in this case’ hearing devices’]. The way that the search engines see it, the more traffic that they see going to that page, the more valuable the information is.
Bottom line is that when someone searches for a term that relates to your industry [hearing devices, hearing health, hearing loss, tinnitus, etc.], you’ll want them to easily find your website on the first page of ‘Google’ results.
So now that you know a little bit about SEO is and why it’s important, how do you optimize your website and start driving online traffic?
The “optimization” part of SEO is the actual strategy that is implemented to drive relevant traffic to your site and as stated before, it’s based on content. There are numerous techniques on how to go about enhancing your content to attract indexing by search engines [or getting your website to appear on the first page of results]. That’s why it’s crucial to have valuable and relevant content that not only attracts traffic to your site, but possibly new opportunities to your practice.
The following chart shows examples of content that will help your site from an optimization standpoint:
|This is all about you and your practice
||This is more about the industry that you are in that is not specific to your practice
|Examples: History of the practice, mission statement, bios, services, etc.
||Examples: FAQ’s, case studies, newsletters, blog posts, etc.
Integrating both types of content – Branded and Non-Branded – into your site will help potential customers in your area find you. Plus, from the consumers’ standpoint, the valuable SEO content also gives your visitors the information that they were seeking, which leads to new opportunities.
In order to stay relevant within the industry, you need to have a strong online presence. It is imperative to incorporate SEO content into your website to stay competitive in the marketplace. But you don’t have to go it alone. You can partner with a digital marketing company that will help create valuable, relevant content that search engines respond to positively, giving your website higher search rankings.
Interested in learning more? Contact marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how SEO fits into your digital marketing strategy.