Authentic, like me: A key to successful hospital blogs

flickr: Lulu Hoeller

As those of you who are regular readers of Hive’s blog may know, I’ve been writing my dissertation and plan to complete my doctoral program this spring (can you hear the sigh of relief from my husband and children!). My research deals with authenticity in blogs.

The more I study blogs, the more convinced I am that they are one of the most influential strategy tools for any organization, and have particular potential in healthcare and with hospitals.

Blogs foster credibility

Blogs’ ability to humanize an organization has been well documented. As a tool, blogs are a great medium for sharing expertise and content with targeted audiences. Blogs foster credibility, and have been responsible for escalating well-informed experts to nationally known “thought leaders.”

There are many helpful articles on how to improve your organization’s blog. When I searched “blog effectiveness” on Google, there were more than 78,000 sites ready to share their two cents. At Hive Strategies, we offer a free e-book on starting a hospital blog.

In marketing circles, one of the characteristics most closely associated with blogs is authenticity. Building an authentic online presence for your organization is much touted and desired, yet rarely do these discussions attempt to define authenticity. What does being authentic mean to your audience, and how do you assess it and measure it?

Two key characteristics of authentic blogs

The process leading to perceiving a blog as authentic starts with two key characteristics: disclosure (sharing stories, experiences, etc.) and being able to identify with the blogger.

What does this means for hospitals? Abandon your “one-size-fits-all” blogs and think more strategically. Start a blog for diabetics written not only by nurses and physicians who care for them, but by patients who struggle with diabetes each day. Start a birthing center blog for expecting moms … and a separate one for expecting dads.

Yes, at first glance the plan seems overwhelming – so many patient types, so few bloggers. If you simply don’t have the resources for multiple blogs, initiate a page that introduces all the bloggers that contribute to your hospital blog and add a one-click feature that can sort the blog posts by blogger. This empowers your blog readers to easily choose to read posts by the bloggers of their choice.

Blogger biographies are essential

When using this model, the more information you include in blogger biographies the better – do they have kids, volunteer locally, what college did they attend? Any small piece of information can raise interest among blog readers, even if it doesn’t directly pertain to their health.

The more commonalities readers find with their bloggers, the more likely they are to sense authenticity in the blogger. And that will help your hospital or clinic build an authentic online presence.

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

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