A Lesson From My Social Media Sabbatical: Extend the Lifespan of Your Blog Posts


Last month, I took a “social media sabbatical” for nearly the entire month. I was defending my dissertation and needed the extra time to finish the written document and study for the defense with no distractions.

It was when I was absent from social media conversations that I learned an important lesson. The old adage “content is king” is still valid.

A few weeks before I “went dark,” I wrote a blog post on Pinterest, a new social media curation tool. It turned out to be one of the most read posts I’ve ever written. Even now, 12 weeks later, I get a few requests for Pinterest invites from that post each week.  Here’s my take on why it was a success (but I’d loved to hear from some of you who read it to see if I’ve missed something). Consider applying these five concepts to your next hospital blog to help lengthen the lifespan of your post.

Catch trends on the way up

Dan Hinmon, the principal of Hive Strategies, termed the tremendous interest in Pinterest as “Pin-sanity” – a spin-off of “Lin-sanity,” a term based on the excitement over NFL basketball player Jeremy Linn. Lin and Pinterest were both active trends in social media. From this 180-Trendistic map, you can see that interest in Pinterest had been inching up since November, really took off around January 28 and peaked in February. Although I admittedly wasn’t strategic about my Pinterest blog post–it was just a new tool I was experimenting with and wanted to share my perceptions–I caught the trend on the way up. The practice of checking trending topics on Trendistic, Tweetstats or Trendsmap might help you catch the trend on the way up and gain some readers who are hungry for the latest news on a topic of growing interest.

Share your own opinion

In an earlier post I discussed my research on blogs that uncovered the importance of disclosure. When you share your opinion, readers identify you as authentic and have a greater tendency to relate to your message. In my Pinterest post, I noted several suggestions for improving it. By sharing my opinion, I left myself vulnerable to people who might disagree with me. However, in doing so, I maintained transparency and honesty and enhanced authenticity.

Provide rich examples

In my post, I linked to an example of a board I created that demonstrated how hospitals might use Pinterest. Too many consultants give advice, but don’t produce a real example to share with the C-Suite or staff members. Taking the extra time to produce a real example helps the reader more fully understand a tool in the context of healthcare (or your area of interest) and encourages them to pass along the post to other readers.

Provide information at your readers’ levels

Readers of Hive’s Social Media Strategy Blog represent a wide spectrum of expertise in hospital social media – some are true beginners and others seasoned strategists. Meet your readers where they are. Include links (and descriptions of them) to a variety of resources. Your readers will be more likely to find something useful for them, and be more likely to use and forward your post to others. In my post, the following paragraph illustrates this concept in practice.

For a “how-to” on Pinterest, Mashable just published a helpful article by Rob Lammle, Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide to the Hot New Social Network. Katie Nelson of the digital scrapbooking site The Daily Digi also offers a very easy-to-follow Pinterest 101 beginner’s step-by-step tutorial.  For a more in-depth strategic consideration of the tool, read Semil Shah’s interesting article in Tech Crunch on The Rise of Pinterest and the Shift from Search to Discover.

Be generous

Among the seven core values that we at Hive believe are at the heart of successful social media is to be generous. We define generosity as “the gift of providing something unexpected to someone without expecting anything in return.” Because Pinterest was still an invitation-only site, in my blog I offered to send invitations to readers. Many took me up on this offer. Although I did not expect anything in return, I did receive some “gifts” from generous readers.  I received great feedback from an enthusiastic crowd of Pinterest pioneers, many of whom shared with me their initial thoughts of how their hospitals were considering using Pinterest. These are the conversations that make social media such a delight, and the reason I’m glad I’m back from my “social media sabbatical.”

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

3 replies
  1. Jean Kelso Sandlin
    Jean Kelso Sandlin says:

    Jason: Thanks for the comment. Your feedback through comments is a great example of being generous. You folks at Radian6 share a lot of great information through your blog…and now your own TV station I see. Fun concept!

  2. Jason Boies
    Jason Boies says:

    Great post as usual, Jean. It was actually YOUR Pinterest post that finally pushed me to sign up and see what all the fuss was about. You’re right about providing examples. I often bookmark blog posts that include solid examples/best practices and pass them along to others during my daily routine of commenting at other sites. Definitely a good way to ensure your posts get seen long after they’ve been published.
    Cheers – Jason Boies – Radian6 Community


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