6 tips for writing a stellar hospital blog

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute shares what it learned from launching one.

While most organizations have made the foray into social media, the decision to launch a blog comes with many questions.

How do you leverage existing content and publications? Should you have regular contributors? Who will read it?

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute launched our blog, Insight in fall 2011, after a long and thorough planning process. It provides an opportunity to share the patient stories that inspire us, and the research discoveries that give us hope. Here are a few of the lessons we learned along the way:

1. Be strategic

Before you start designing the blog’s layout and assigning stories, think first about what you would like to achieve. Do you want to increase awareness of your organization’s expertise in a particular area? Who do you hope to reach? All content decisions should be tied directly to your objective and key audiences, so take the time to answers these questions first.

2. Show, don’t tell

While blogs provide an opportunity to highlight your organization’s brand image, it’s important to avoid being overly self-promotional. Provide concrete examples and let the reader decide for themselves. Marketing jargon like “world-class” and “patient-centered approach” are red flags that will turn readers away.

3. Analyze and reflect

Tracking click-throughs, comments, and sharing will make it easy to spot readership trends. Use this information to help guide future content decisions or test out a new approach.

4. Plan ahead, but be flexible

Posting regular content will give readers a reason to come back. But remember not to be so rigid that you don’t have room for late-breaking opportunities. Providing expert commentary on major news stories can help increase your company’s visibility, and make your blog more relevant.

5. Manage expectations

Even with the best planning and PR, your blog is probably not going to be an overnight sensation. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t always hold true online. It will take time to grow an audience, and not every post will attract huge readership and hundreds of comments. Make sure your stakeholders are aware of this, and keep them up to date with marketing initiatives so they have an ongoing sense of what success looks like.

6. Market your blog

If people aren’t aware of your blog, they can’t read it. Start with an internal campaign first—your organization’s employees can be your best ambassadors. Don’t forget to post news of the official launch on your website, reach out to your local newspaper, and tease new stories on Facebook and Twitter each week.

This post originally appeared on “Insight,” a blog by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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