Imagine you’re at a dinner party. You don’t want to hear a sales pitch — you want to be entertained by others and socialize. The same goes for people on social media – that’s why it’s “social.”
Healthcare stories should focus not on what you want to share, but on what your audience wants to know. You can implement faster, better storytelling in your organization by following our six-step method. We’ve helped clients large and small move from zero content to publishing regularly with this process, and it can work for you, too. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Make the basic decisions
Arguing about what to do, how, and when can derail a content project before it begins. The first decision is the channels with which you wish to start. The “spray and pray” approach likely won’t be as effective as a solid strategy.
Focus first on the two to four channels you’re most comfortable with and branch out over time. We usually recommend the blog as the content hub and email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for distribution and repurposing.
Then get buy-in from your internal team and necessary stakeholders. If the right people aren’t on board, you will run into roadblocks later. Better yet, seek content champions who are also subject matter experts. These are people who will contribute ideas and who are interested and invested in the success of your content project.
Finally, write up a high-level plan. Keep it short and sweet with actionable, attainable goals that everyone on the team understands and can follow.
Step 2: Find your storytelling voice
You’re passionate about healthcare, and that should come across in your content. But you must tell the story for the benefit of your audience, not your organization. The more enjoyable your content is to absorb, the likelier your audience will be to engage with it and remember it.
Unless your audience consists solely of physicians and marketing directors, avoid buzzwords like “state-of-the-art” and “multidisciplinary.” You want to show, not just tell your audience how amazing you are. Remember that your readers likely aren’t healthcare professionals. As a general rule, avoid complex medical descriptions or terminology.
Step 3: Analyze your team’s skills and daily tasks
Everyone has storytelling skills, so play to the strengths of the team. Some people are better writers, while others are more comfortable in front of a camera. Challenge your team to get outside their comfort zone, but don’t force them to do things they don’t want to do.
And don’t assume that new tasks can be added to their busy workloads. Don’t expect your rock star video editor to also be able to run your social media accounts and write weekly blog articles.
Storytelling is a lot of work, which is why many organizations don’t do it well. When you put in the work, you’ll reap the benefits with more referrals and an improved online reputation.
This step also includes recognizing where your team may need help or support. It’s OK to seek assistance from other internal teams or a professional services organization. In fact, few large organizations handle all facets of their content and social media strategies exclusively in-house.
Step 4: Implement your plan, and avoid ‘Approval Purgatory’
Pressing “go” might seem like an obvious step, but this is where many storytelling strategies fail. My advice is to look for reasons to publish, rather than reasons not to publish.
That means you must avoid “Approval Purgatory,” or “editing by committee.” I’ve seen editorial processes that include as many as 15 editors, and each has something to reword or omit because they feel like they haven’t done their job if they didn’t change something. It takes weeks to publish content when that many people are involved, which turns trending topics into old news.
Your content processes should hum along – it shouldn’t feel like herding cats every time you want to publish. If it does, take a step back and reconsider your workflow.
Step 5: Measure what matters
Gauging social media success isn’t always about clicks. It’s important to measure other metrics as well, including:
- Growth over time
- Impact on site traffic as a whole
- Appointment requests
Overanalyzing will impede effective storytelling. You may worry that no one will care about your content. And it’s true that not everyone will care. But if you align your tone, voice, and topics to the needs and wants of your audience, you’ll reach the right people who will care about your stories and appreciate your messaging. Social media storytelling success is cumulative. Most stories will not go viral, but when you measure what matters, you’ll find the intersection between what your audience wants and what you want to share.
Step 6: Keep the process going
Don’t forget: success doesn’t happen overnight. If the results aren’t what you expected, check what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your plan as you go. It’s important to focus on change and long-term success rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day fluctuations.
Cultivating a culture of storytelling requires everyone to be on board. Have regular conversations with your team, stakeholders, and professional services partners to make sure everyone stays on the same page. Keep brainstorming new ideas, learning new skills, testing new methods, and measuring what matters. This will keep you attuned to the changing needs and wants of your audience so you can continue to be a reliable source of information.
Final tips and recommendations
Social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are built for two-way conversations. Your audience – current patients and people who one day may need care – wants and needs healthcare information, and they look for it on social media.
Listen to your audience and contribute to the conversation in real time. You’re people, not content-posting machines! If you have any questions or want to learn more about social media storytelling, send us a message.