Why Hospital Blogs Fail

They don’t have to fail, but here’s why the do:

  • Fear of failure
  • The word “blog” – it’s ugly and to conservative enterprise peeps evokes something of Dungeons & Dragons
  • The false belief that hospitals don’t have any stories, in spite of the hundreds that happen everyday which the staff, the people they serve and the family members who love them would happily share if simply asked
  • Reliance on Twitter and Facebook
  • Twitter? Why hate on Twitter? Twitter gives the illusion that longer content is dead. Plus it encourages creative laziness. (I’ve earned full rights to critique Twitter btw.)
  • Incomplete communications strategies – or lack of any cohesive strategy.
  • Overstating the risks of HIPAA while understating the risks of never being found in Google
  • Misunderstanding the role of blogging in communications
  • Lack of long-term investment discipline
  • Lack of resources – more specifically: lack of resourceful use of resources
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of desire

You can be trained to overcome all of the above…except…

…all except the last one. That’s the one can’t be instilled.

But if it’s there, it can be enkindled.

Desire for excellence burns down all obstacles.

That’s true in nursing; that’s true in medicine; and that’s true in communications.

The real failure of blogging – and the resulting skills needed in today’s communications gained from blogging – is a failure to understand today’s behavioral economics.

You don’t own your tweets. You don’t own your Facebook updates.

The only thing you can own on the Web is your own domain.

Why on earth would you willingly leave your only home abandoned and failed?

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial

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Hospital Blogging Is Optional

Short note concerning Healthcare communications via blogging, with a focus on hospitals.

I keep harping on blogging, in spite of beliefs that blogging is dead. Catch up on what I’ve said here.

Here’s the deal: very few hospitals will make much money blogging. Might they get some patients? Yes, maybe.

But that’s not the kind of return hospital blogging has going for it. So rather than punching out a long-winded post on the why’s and why not’s, here’s a little intuitive metaphor to help things make a bit more sense. Blogging’s a strange animal – there’s more to it than meets the eye for the uninitiated.

So here goes:

Lifestyle: You won’t get rich exercising, eating less sugar or meditating. You’ll just get stronger, healthier and more aware of your world.

Blogging: same thing. You won’t rocket your earnings, but your communications will get stronger, more effective and more aware of what’s going on in the industry and the communities that make your revenue streams flow.

Exercise = Writing regularly

Eating less sugar = Talk less sweetly about yourself (digest those bitter complaints)

Meditating = Giving your communicators the freedom and clarity to be creative.

Of course, these things are optional.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial

Healthcare Blogging: Wide Open Opportunities

“Blogging is dead.” I can’t tell you how many times I hear that. According to Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Network List, fewer than 90 hospitals have blogs. That’s less than 2% of all US hospitals! Meanwhile, over 600 hospitals have Twitter and Facebook accounts. Does that mean blogging is dead? Or does it mean that hospitals are passing on important opportunities to communicate?

I understand why some people think blogging is dead. More and more people are turning to Twitter and other ‘real-time’ media to publish and interact.

Also: Resources are scarce: a tweet…well a tweet is 140 characters. It’s Twitter. How can it get any easier? Why blog when you can tweet? Attention spans are short anyway.

Twitter and Facebook also supposedly ‘viral’ (wonderfully seductive buzzword for the uninitiated).

I’ve been in discussions with clients who have told me their agencies advised them that Twitter, Facebook  and Youtube were all that’s needed anymore and that their websites were basically useless. That blogging wasn’t worth the effort and that nobody reads blogs.

NOBODY READS BLOGS

Nobody reads blogs? Well: Google does. Google loves blogs. Don’t you think Google is an important ‘follower’? Hypothetical: which of these two kinds of ‘followers’ would you rather have?:

  • Ten thousand followers on Twitter, 99.9% of which ignore your tweets and the rest aren’t paying strong attention to you
  • 1 search engine, like Google, who indexes and archives your blog’s content and serves it up to people who are actively looking for what you might have?

Patients read blogs too. “Oh, we tried a blog, but only had 25 subscribers.” Only 25? You mean those 25 people – human beings – don’t matter? What if a few of those readers were healthcare journalists or philanthropists or patients who are connected via their own communications platforms to thousands of others?

For that matter, what if you had 1? What if she’s the one person with a condition and she finds your content of immense and rare value? What if your content enables her to lead a better life, even if in some small way? Why would you refer to her as an ‘only’?

Nobody reads blogs. OK, well nobody reads your tweets. 🙂

You see, Twitter and Facebook and other streaming media create the illusion that longer form content doesn’t matter much anymore.

Actually: where do you think all that good stuff people share on Twitter and Facebook come from? Who do you think earns ROI (however it’s defined) from those tweets and other social streams? The fact is, many of the items shared on streaming media are links to…blog posts.

PROCESS IS POWER

You need three integrated things in today’s world in order to have any chance of having an audience: content, context and process. Content and context provide relevance – a no-brainer.

But you need process in order to deliver that relevance. If you have none of the skills required for blogging, then you won’t understand how to develop and execute the kinds of processes needed to properly execute whatever strategies you have. It’s that simple. Blogging is a skill, and it’s no longer just putting up content – it’s a process.

You don’t need a huge following on your blog. You do need to be good at content generation. Twitter and Facebook won’t do that – in fact, they’ll make you sloppy and lame if that’s all you do.

In today’s world, you do have to be swift in your interactions. But that’s a skill too, one best honed by the experiences of blogging. Too many agencies and clients have for too long forgone the education and skills-building that blogging provides.

I’m not saying you need a blog – I am saying you need the underlying skills. If you know another way to garnish those skills, more power to you.

YOUR BOAT ON THE ELECTRIC SEA OF INFINITY

You (or your client) don’t own Twitter or Facebook. You don’t own your tweets. You have no control over Twitter. No control over Facebook. You don’t even own your name on those services.

The only place you own on the Internet is your domain name. Why would you abandon the only thing in an uncontrollable world that you have some control over?

Why would not take advantage of the wide opportunities to produce an infinite combination of content – enduring and timeless content – that matters most to the very people you serve?

Don’t get taken in by get-rich schemes.

21st Century communications is an endurance feat, not a popularity contest.

Healthcare content is far too important to leave to Twitter and Facebook. You (or your client) are experts (I hope). If you are, I hope you know how to bring forth your expertise online.

There’s so much content in Healthcare and yet one of the most common questions is: But what do we talk about?

OMG – the amount of topic is more than one organization can ever cover. So the opportunities are wide open!

Twitter and Facebook and other social media have value, don’t get me wrong: but without a home-base of your own, you’re missing a key ingredient in your online presence. Kind of like apple pie without real apples.

The Internet is the Electric Sea of Infinity: it’s easy to get shocked and tossed and drowned if you don’t have the right kind of boat.

A well-written and engaging blog is about the only place on the Sea of Infinity where you can build a boat with an anchor.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial

In future posts and Webinars, I’ll discuss more about healthcare blogging because I think it’s an ignored topic.