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Monday, April 04, 2016

5 basics to get your hospital blog off the ground

Melissa Welling, Editor

If every Tom, Dick and Harriet has a blog, is it really worthwhile for hospitals to get in on the action? 

Absolutely. Blogs are a great way to connect with your community between print publications or e-newsletters. They can help you direct traffic to your services. And they can build your hospital's reputation as a first stop for timely, local healthcare information. 

Hospital blogs: Get your name in the game

If you want to get a blog off the ground—and keep it going—it's important to start off strong. You want it to represent your organization well. To that end, here are few a all-purpose pointers for healthcare marketers.

1. Set a goal, Joel. Before you dive into scheduling, writing and promoting your blog, make sure you have clear goals in mind. 

Whose attention do you want to capture? What do you want your audience to do or gain? How will you measure success? 

Keep those big, key goals limited—and put them front and center as you move forward. For example, write them on the whiteboard before a brainstorming session. Give them to colleagues who will write for the blog. Post them in your editorial calendar. 

Don't let yourself forget where you're headed—and why.

2. Make a plan, Fran. Fresh content is key. Readers don't want to see the same thing every time they check out your blog. So plan to post at least once a week—more often if you have the resources. 

To keep the content wheels churning, create an editorial calendar that maps out what topics you'll cover, what creative resources you can draw on, where you'll promote each post and a realistic timeline for getting it all done. 

3. Be unique, Monique. There's no shortage of content for readers to choose from. So give some thought to what will make your blog a must-read for your target audience:

  • What local stories can you tell? 
  • What resources can you give your readers that they can't find on big mainstream sites? 
  • What experts do you have insider access to? 
  • What topics is your community uniquely interested in?

Fill your blog with valuable, compelling content—and you'll build a loyal fan base.

4. Promote like a boss, Ross. Ridiculously good blog content won't make an impact if people don't know it exists. So be strategic and creative in getting the word out.

First, make sure your blog is easy to find from your hospital website's home page. Provide a way to subscribe. And make it clear how often readers can expect to see new content. 

Turn hospital employees into ambassadors by looping them in early and often—and encourage them to share posts. 

Then build buzz for each new story on social media. Don't count on one tweet or post to capture everyone's attention. Post several times—and once your blog has been going a while, mine your archives for content worth a second spin. #TBT, anyone?

Your print publications and e-newsletters are also good promotion tools. Make sure to be specific with your calls to action and give readers a compelling reason to check out the blog.

5. Engage, Paige. Or not. When it comes to allowing comments on your posts, give the question careful consideration. 

A well-moderated comments section can be a place where real, riveting conversations take place. By listening in, you may pick up valuable insights about what your readers want. But a civil dialogue may not happen spontaneously. You need to set the rules of engagement and be present to enforce them. 

If you don't have the resources to respond quickly and thoughtfully to comments—or you want to have those conversations elsewhere—it's probably best to leave that feature off. 

We're handy, Andy

Need help launching your blog? Contact us to learn about our hospital website design and healthcare content services. 

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