By Wendy O’Donovan Phillips (originally published on Forbes)
We have all been there: Staring blankly at the screen where the social media platform encourages us to “start a post,” the empty box ready for any idea. Yet not just any idea will do. As the CEO of an agency that helps health care teams with their marketing, I’ve seen firsthand how challenging this can be for marketers. Between my personal experience and pulling inspiration from Jim Tobin’s book, Social Media Is a Cocktail Party, here is a step-by-step guide for health care marketers to know precisely what to post on social.
As Tobin writes in the book, think of social media as an online open house for your organization — join the party, show up as your authentic self, an ambassador of the brands we serve and live. Here are 10 steps to making each post count.
1. Mind your professional decorum. Work with your executive team to ensure the company profile is updated with brand messaging derived from the voices of the clients served. Check that the team has updated personal LinkedIn profiles. Before posting, “listen and mingle,” as Tobin suggests. Explore the professional profiles of people and companies aligned with your organization.
2. Naturally inspire people to like your organization. Consider executive-approved brand messaging, particularly for inspiration from the positioning and differentiators of your brand as well as documented graphic standards. Knowing these assets were built from voice-of-the-customer data, you can amplify the brand personality to readily connect with people in your target audience. Continue to craft the story represented by previous posts in the feed.
3. Honor the mastermind. Suspend the urge to work in isolation. Rather than posting your own concept, hold routine team brainstorms to generate dozens of on-brand concepts for social posts, selecting ones that matter most now and retaining others for future posts.
4. Add variety to the conversation. Referencing resources like “The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas” considers whether to create a useful, generous, entertaining, timely, human, promotional, controversial, or engaging post. You can select any one of them and still stay within brand guidelines. For example, with HIPAA-compliant model release form in hand, you might cultivate a “Client of the Week” post, writing a short post showcasing the lesson a particular client’s story can teach others.
5. Feature real people in the right light. Tell your organization’s true and compelling brand story to illustrate the joy, pain, and perseverance of the human spirit. Select an image of the real person you are featuring, never using stock images. Use a photo that is truly representative of the heartbeat of your brand.
6. Adhere to the appropriate code of conduct for your brand. Referencing company brand standards, use only brand colors for the solid background surrounding an image. Crop the photo to be square, not horizontal or vertical, and edit out background noise. Apply a filter to keep the image clean and impactful. Reference the feed to ensure this post will complement previous efforts to have brand colors thread throughout for consistency. Use images of medical technology in a simple, unique and surprising way rather than focusing on its cold, clinical nature.
7. Engage in meaningful conversation. Tobin says, “Conversation follows a thread of interconnected topics. The topic evolves as people respond to one another, gradually bringing up related anecdotes.” Post four to five times weekly, and read others’ feeds with regularity to garner new ideas to bring to future social media brainstorms. Seek out like-minded thought leadership posted by aligned organizations, and share those on your own company’s pages. Use hashtags on every post to increase engagement. Reply to all comments just as you would if someone addressed you at a live open house. Take time to invite others to follow your company page, working from a curated list based upon strategic planning for future partnerships.
8. Show up appropriately for each setting. Tobin writes, “The setting matters. Different online social forums have different rules of etiquette.” LinkedIn is like an association meeting at which you can connect with like-minded professionals, Facebook an open house at your organization’s location, Instagram an open house at an art museum, YouTube a multimedia presentation for all audiences, and TikTok a quick experience for younger audiences. Where to post most? Go back to survey data that shows which outlets most engage your organization’s current clients and invest your time there.
9. Achieve business measures. An open house is not just a social event; it’s a way to generate new awareness of the brand and nurture would-be clients to become intentional about selecting your organization. Check that every two out of 10 past posts are promotional; for example, “Thank you to our referral partners,” or “Now accepting new inquiries.” People take action when we ask them to take action.
10. Don’t make it all about yourself. Tobin asks, “Do you know that guy at the party? The one where everything you say comes back to how great he is?” Don’t be that guy. Eighty percent of posts should benefit others, showcasing expertise or offering education, and 20% should be promotional. It is this consistent presence that drives marketing qualified leads to the website.
Now you are ready to hit “post.” In Tobin’s words, “If people like you and need what you do, they will want to work with you.”
Which of these steps can you add to your social media marketing strategy to compel more of the right people toward your brand?
Wendy O’Donovan Phillips is the CEO of Big Buzz, an agency delivering strategy and consultation to drive focused marketing efforts for senior living executives and teams nationwide. Follow her on LinkedIn here. Big Buzz is a proud partner of Senior Living Foresight.