Twitter: Teaching Your Health Organization How To Fly High

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Fasten your seat belts because Twitter may be our bumpiest ride yet, but stick with me; we’re going places.  Twitter can be a great way for your health organization to promote itself.  It is different than other social media sites because the length of posts are restricted, which can be a good thing because there isn’t much room for fluff.

The short posts are ideal for people who want to get their news quickly.  Twitter is also great for your health organization because it encourages two-way conversation and makes it easy for people to share tweets from others.

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Twitter Terminology

Twitter uses its own unique terms, which can be confusing to first-timers. Here are the basics to get you started:

  • Tweet: A post on Twitter.  It may contain pictures, videos, links and up to 140 characters of text.
  • Handle: This is how your account is identified.  It’s a fancy word for username.  It will look something like this: @username123
  • @ symbol: The @ symbol is used to call out usernames in tweets.  For example, if another person was trying to tweet to you they would say: “Hey @username123”
  • Retweet (RT):  A tweet that shares what someone else has tweeted.  Basically saying: “I like what you said enough to show my followers”.  Take it as a compliment.
  • Hashtag: It is any word or phrase that is immediately preceded by a # symbol.  If you click it you can see other tweets featuring the same hashtag.  For example, if you searched #health you could see what health topics people are talking about.

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Twitter Tips for Getting Started

When creating a profile there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind:

  1. Think of a short Twitter handle that describes your organization.  Don’t worry if you cannot decide on one at first, your handle can be changed at any time.
  2. Pick a good profile picture that is relevant to your organization.  People will see this image every time you tweet so it is important to pick a high-quality photo that fits nicely into the picture dimensions.
  3. Select a good cover photo and write a description of your health organization on your profile.  You do not want your followers to have to wonder who you are or what you do.  Let them know upfront.
  4. Follow those that interest you.  It might seem crazy but people pay attention to how many followers you have vs. how many you follow.  These two numbers should be close to each other so people know that you are willing to follow them back and be assured that you are a real account.  Keep in mind that birds of a feather flock together.  In other words, you might want to follow your favorite comedian on your personal account not your health organization’s account.

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Time to Tweet

You’re all set up so let’s start tweeting!  There are some best practices that have been proven to work for other tweeters.  There is definitely a learning curve to Twitter so I’ll give you some tweeting tips:

  1. Keep it short. It is good to keep your tweets around 100 characters so people can add their own comments when they retweet you.
  2. Try to keep it 80/20.  This means it good for 80% of your tweets to be conversation and the other 20% to be promotion.
  3. Don’t spam your followers.  Try to tweet 2-8 times/day.  Any less people might think you have nothing to say but any more and people might unfollow you. You can also schedule tweets to post at a certain time and figure out what time is best for your organization to tweet.
  4. Use links and pictures.  Links and pictures make your tweets more interesting. Tweets that have links have an 86% higher retweet rate.  It is best to put links in the middle or at the end of tweets.
  5. Be two-way.  Be sure to ask questions and encourage conversation about whatever health topic you specialize in.  You can also @ people to make them feel included.
  6. Use hashtags (sparingly). Hashtags are great because you can search to see what other people on Twitter are talking about the same health topics that your organization is interested in.  You can also see what health topics are popular at the time.  It is important not to use too many hashtags because it makes tweets hard to read and people will think you are:

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Special Features

One of the many great things about Twitter is all of the special features it offers.  Your health organization can take advantage of features like tweet chats to foster engagement and get people talking about certain health topics.  You can also use Twitter’s new app Periscope to show your followers live video content of what your organization is up to. Another great aspect of Twitter is Twitter Analytics  which allows your health organization to see how many people are seeing your tweets and engaging with you.

Flying High

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a good example of a health organization that is using Twitter effectively.  They use a crisp image of their logo for their profile so followers can automatically identify their organization.  Their cover photo also helps to give followers a better idea of what WHO does.  The organization also uses short tweets with images and links to bring more attention to their tweets.

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That’s all I have to you today so it’s time for you little birdies to leave the nest.  Start tweeting and take advantage of all Twitter has to offer your organization.

 

 

Facebook Fundamentals For Your Health Organization

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Although it may seem like it, Facebook is not just for your weird relative to comment on every single thing you post.  In fact, Facebook has over 700 million registered users, including nearly half of the American population.  Recent studies have shown that over 40 percent of people rely on social media for health information and 94 percent of those people turn to Facebook.  This presents a big opportunity for your health organization.

Facebook can be great for your health organization because it provides an easily accessible two-way communication.  Facebook is made to promote interaction, which is exactly what your organization needs.  Individuals can also connect with others interested in the same health topic, illness or injury.

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Facebook is your health organization’s new best friend

Imagine you’re watching your favorite show and a commercial comes on, what do you do? If you’re like most people you are probably scrolling through your news feed until your show comes back on.  This is why many health organizations have shifted their marketing efforts towards social media rather than commercials.

There are even more business and marketing benefits to using Facebook:

  1. It’s (almost) free.  There is no charge to create an account and it is quick to get started.  The only part  that requires money is if your organization wishes to participate in Facebook advertising.
  2. Facebook is a targeted community.  Facebook makes it easier for your organization to connect with people who are interested in the area of health your organization specializes in.
  3. Facebook gives your customer a voice.  Unlike a traditional advertisement, Facebook allows users to give instant feedback on what they see.
  4. Potential new customers come from Facebook.  Facebook is a great way to increase your brand and reputation which can lead to more business.  It also allows people to recommend your organization to others.
  5. Facebook has recently added some new features.  If your health organization is a nonprofit, Facebook has just added some new tools that will benefit you.  It is now easier than ever for users to donate to your health cause or organization.

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Sign me up!

There are three different types of Facebook pages which include: 1) a personal profile 2) a Facebook group or 3) a business page.

Your health organization is most likely going to want to use a business page.  This allows for your business to have ‘fans’ rather than ‘friends’.  Don’t get too upset, you already have enough friends.  A business page also allows for commercial activity to be permitted. It is free to set up, but there is a fee to run advertisements.  A Facebook business page also allows you to see visitor statistics and be accessed through search engines.

Once you sign up as a business there are going to be some sub-categories that you can choose from.  To find out what area is the best fit for your health organization you can check out these definitions.

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Ok, ok I signed up. Now what?

Facebook has the potential to get thousands of people interested in your cause, so take advantage of it.  There are a few ways to keep customers coming back for more.

  1. Get people to ‘like’ your page.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get people to like your page.  When a person ‘likes’ your page it shows their friends that they are endorsing your health organization.  The truth is, a person recommending your organization to a friend because of the great healthcare they received is worth more than any commercial.
  2. Be relatable.  Just like with blogging, it is important to seem friendly and approachable.  Make sure that your health organization is posting about things that your followers would be interested in.  Also, when you post about health topics be sure to use credible sources so your followers will trust your organization.
  3. Encourage interaction.  Like I said before, the availability of two-way conversation is one of the best parts about Facebook.  Asking questions is a great way to make people feel involved.  Be sure to ask your followers their opinion and then carefully listen to their responses.  Another great way to encourage interaction is through incentives and rewards (fact: everyone loves free stuff).  Giveaways will get more traffic to your site and make your customers feel appreciated.
  4. Show them what else you have to offer.  Facebook is not the only thing your health organization has to offer.  Encourage your followers to visit your website, check out your blog or find out more about your organization.  You want to show your followers that your organization has many different dimensions.

Let’s see who is doing it right.

If your health organization is new to this whole Facebook thing it may be helpful to see an example.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a great Facebook page.  The organization has a lot of ‘likes’ and posts about a wide range of health issues.  Every post also gets a lot of shares and comments, which means they are posting about topics that people are interested in.  The Facebook page also directs readers to the NIH website or their blog.  Although NIH is a reputable source, they also reference other health organizations to be even more credible. All good things!

It’s time for me to set you free.  Be sure to comment and let me know what you think.  Remember: Facebook is your new best friend!

 

Blogging 101 For Your Health Organization

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Yes, I do know what you’re thinking: “What’s the point in starting a blog? It’s just one more thing on my plate. Why me??”

The truth is using technology is unavoidable in today’s society.  Healthcare is one of the biggest industries in the world, therefore it is even more important to stay connected to people all over the globe. Right now making a blog probably seems like another item to add to the to-do list but believe me it will be beneficial to your health organization, and I’m here to guide you through it.  Besides if you really don’t have time for it just give it to the intern to do, just kidding.

The basics: A blog is a regularly updated webpage, typically run by an individual or small group, that is written in informal or conversational style.  Blogs are great for an organization because they enhance visibility, humanize the company and build credibility.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can check out these reasons to blog.

Now that I’ve convinced you, let’s get started!

I promise that starting a blog won’t be as hard as it seems in the beginning.  In the wise words of Uncle Kracker: follow me everything is alright.

Here are a few basic tips to start with:

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1. Be presentable

Layout is an important part of a blog.  The layout is the welcome mat of your blog; it invites people to come in and stay awhile.  The layout should encourage people to keep reading.  Wide margins and short paragraphs make it easier for readers to follow.  A legible font and bold headings also make the blog more attractive.

Images are also a very important part of a blog. Images should not be the focus of your blog but should be there to enhance your message.  Another important tip to keep in mind is to not make your blog too busy.  It is important to have some white space because it gives readers a chance to rest their eyes. If a blog is too overwhelming it may discourage readers from reading the whole post or reading it at all.  For more styling tips you can visit this website.

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2. Be balanced

Blogging is all about balance, just like that yoga pose you can never seem to get quite right.  It is not enough to simply write a post and expect the world to see it.  Part of the success of a good blog is dependent on efforts outside the blog.  It is important to like and comment on similar blogs and post about your blog on your different social media sites in order to get more readers.

The content that you post on your blog also needs to be balanced.  Although the blog is for your health organization, you do not want to be shamelessly promoting yourself in every post.  Think of your blog as a person, no one wants to be around the person that only talks about themselves.  Be sure your posts are about things that would attract your audience and then mix in a little self promotion from time to time.

Part of the excitement of blogs is that you can get feedback from your audience.  Blogging should be a two-way conversation so be sure to balance posting and listening to readers.  It is important to invite readers to comment and respond to their comments in order to make them feel included in the conversation.

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3. Be yourself

You’re allowed to be fun, I mean this isn’t CSPAN.  A blog should be an extension of your organization and your brand.  Be sure to inject your personality into the blog so people get a sense of who you are and what your organization is about.  Keep in mind that if your blog was a person you would want it to the cool older brother that everyone wants to hang out with and listen to.

It is important to keep a consistent tone when blogging.  Determine what tone will be most effective for your brand and stick with it throughout your blog communications.  Your tone can be professional, fun or sarcastic.  Above all else, just make sure it’s you.

The time has come

Our blogging journey is coming to an end but you can always check out the blogs of other health organizations to help get you started.  MyFitnessPal in particular has a really good blog called Hello Healthy.  They do a great job of having a variety of posts that would draw in readers.  Their layout isn’t cluttered and makes it easy for users to navigate.  Their posts also feature good images and break up the content nicely so take notes.

That’s all folks.  Be sure to comment and let me know what you think.  Happy Blogging!