You’re Not a Lifestyle Blog. You’re a Hospital.

If you are in fact a lifestyle blogger, sorry. If you’re a hospital, though — or any other health and wellness organization — I want to talk to you about using your own data, not the generalizations you find online.

Blogging is an important means of patient education. The Mayo Clinic Social Media Network shows that 13% of its hospital members now use blogs for this purpose — up from just 4% in 2015. The growth shows the value of blogging, while the relatively small number shows that this is still an area where you can get in on the ground floor and have a serious advantage.

Unlike lifestyle blogging.

Studies have shown that the typical hospital’s patient education blog is written on an 11th grade level — far above the 7th grade reading level recommended for patient education content.

Tips for bloggers

The natural response is to look for tips for blogging. You’ll find plenty of tips for bloggers online. Here are some we just found:

  • Be yourself.
  • Be authentic.
  • Find your voice.
  • If your voice includes curse words, go for it.
  • Break the rules of grammar.
  • Write about things you care about.
  • Find your bliss.
  • Infuse your quirks into your blog.

We could go on with this list, but this kind of popular advice is not what your patients need.

Tips for thought leadership

A lot of the blog advice above comes along with a suggestion that what you really want is for your blog readers to think, “Gee, I feel like I could be friends with that blogger!”

If you’re deciding where to have a knee replacement, your first choice is not going to be a friend’s place. Not even a virtual blogger friend whom you’ve never met.

You might be looking for specific things, like low levels of post-operative infections and quick recovery times. You might respond well to a combination of warmth and competence, even if that’s not what you were looking for (research suggests that many people do). You’ll probably want to find plenty of information about the procedure you’re considering and clear information about acceptance of health insurance.

Cute and quirky aren’t the things most of us are looking for when choosing a hospital.

So, instead of worrying too much about your authentic voice, use these tips:

  • Write clearly, in words that your patients will understand.
  • Avoid using jargon that patients might not understand.
  • Use simple, clear sentences.
  • Answer one important question in each post. Maybe three. Not twelve.
  • Provide examples and evidence to help make your point clear.
  • Organize your supporting details to keep the main point clear.
  • Make sure your posts are findable when searchers look for answers to those important questions. If you don’t show up when people Google their questions, you’re not helping them much.
  • Blog regularly. If you can’t blog regularly, post helpful articles. That will work better than blogging occasionally.
  • Hire a blogger. Usually, it makes a lot more sense to hire a company like Haden Interactive than to try to fit blogging into your daily schedule.

Use your data.

It’s better to follow tips intended for a hospital blog than tips intended for a lifestyle blogger. But it’s best to use your data — the information you collect in your web analytics — than to follow any list of tips. This data will tell you how people find you, what kind of content they respond to, and how they like to use your website. It will help you understand whether your visitors are just making you feel popular… or looking for the services you have to offer.

This information will allow you to make data-driven decisions about your content marketing strategy.

We’ll be happy to help you with this.

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