Write a 250-word blogpost using 7-10 word sentences?

During yesterday’s Social Media Residency at Mayo Clinic, community manager Meredith Gould challenged us to write blogposts from 250-400 words in length with 7-10 word sentences. 

Clearly I’ve already failed on the sentence length. That opening sentence was 28 words (is 250-400 one word or two?). But her point is well-taken. Content for community should be:

  • short
  • crisp
  • to the point
  • (and use bullets to enhance readability when possible)

Whether it’s a blog post, featured news, discussion question for your community, member profile, or community rules, how it reads and how it looks online is critical. 

There were many other gems during yesterday’s residency. Cynthia Manley, content strategist , shared a wealth of on-target tips from the audience and during her excellent Twitter presentation. She’s smart, insightful, and concise. 

And organized. Cynthia put together an amazing Storify that summarizes the day with interesting photos, collected tweets, and great narrative. It’s better than all the notes I took. Take a look for some excellent power tips for building community as well as social media. (That’s a wrap at 176 words!)

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It’s social media week at #MayoClinic

I’m thrilled to be in Rochester, Minn., attending social media week at Mayo Clinic. It’s my third year attending the week and I always enjoy learning a ton and reconnecting with some good friends I’ve developed as a member of the Social Media Health Network.

Tomorrow Mayo hosts a one-day social media residency that provides an immersion in everything from legal issues to strategy to Twitter to video to blogging. I’ll present a session on Facebook and play a role as chief resident, mentoring a handful of social media residents. I always learn a lot from these students. 

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Mayo partners with Ragan Communications to host the 6th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit.

And Thursday afternoon and evening we hold an annual meeting for members of the Social Media Health Network. I’m honored to present to that group “Tactics and Tools to Begin, Build and Sustain Online Patient Communities.”

If you’re not a member of the Social Media Health Network, I recommend it to you. Here is some excellent information on the costs and benefits. One thing you can do right now is start following the network’s Twitter account. Great stuff! 

After evaluating 800 U.S. hospitals, NurseJournal earlier this month named Mayo Clinic the most social media-friendly hospital in the U.S.

It’s a well-deserved recognition. Lee Aase, the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, has been championing social media for several years and has been a key voice helping hospitals adopt best practices.

I’m so grateful for the work Lee has done. Social media, at its best, connects healthcare with patients and their families in ways that simply weren’t possible just five years ago. We’re all better off for it. 

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Every Bariatric Surgery Program in America Should Sponsor an Online Patient Community

I don’t know why every bariatric surgery program in America isn’t sponsoring an online patient community.

Online communities are proven to build tremendous loyalty when they offer real value, and people considering, waiting for, and recovering from bariatric surgery are the perfect target audience.

Here’s why.

Bariatric patients are researchers

The average bariatric surgery patient spends one to two years researching before committing to a surgery. An open online community is a perfect environment for research. Potential patients can learn about your program, interact with patients, subscribe to your news feeds, read success stories, and share their own concerns, even before they become patients.

Sure, they can do a lot of this on your website, but it’s the interaction with actual patients that is the clear differentiator.

Online communities are powerful marketing tools

The most common gateway to bariatric surgery is an informational session. You gather patient information, qualify for insurance, and maybe set an appointment. What if they’re not ready for an appointment? You put them on an e-newsletter list or follow up with phone calls.

How about instead inviting them to join your online community? Watch as they develop online friendships with those who have already completed their surgeries. The emotional ties begin to build.

And what about patients who are going through lengthy waiting periods complying with insurance requirements or improving their health? A supportive community can keep them connected while they wait.

Bariatric patients need help

The glue that holds successful online patient communities together is self-disclosure. The more members of the community share their worries, fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments and frustrations, the stronger the community becomes.

Your providers, dietitians, and psychologists can play vital support roles, but there’s nothing like interacting with others who personally understand what you’re going through.

The results of successful bariatric surgery are amazing

Wow! Testimonials of weight loss patients really are riveting. No more diabetes. No more leg pain. No more sleep apnea. No more gout. I can run again! The list goes on and on.

Amazing results turn bariatric patients into super fans

These amazing results turn your bariatric patients into super fans. As they see the pounds melt away they love how they look and how they feel, and they want to tell everyone about it. What better place to share than in the online patient community?

Bariatric patients are long-term community members

First there are the introductory sessions. Then the insurance compliance or health requirements. Then the surgery. Then the recovery. Then the weight-loss. Then developing new life habits. Patients can contribute to and learn from the community for many years.

A thriving community benefits everyone

Bottom line: Your bariatric center can reap tremendous benefits.

  • More surgeries completed!
  • Search engine optimization for your website from community activity.
  • More patients retained through the sales cycle.
  • Online support can lead to greater compliance and fewer post-surgery complications.

Every bariatric surgery program should be sponsoring online patient communities! 

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The Value of Building Tiny Habits in Online Patient Communities

Are you looking for a method to motivate members of your online patient communities to make changes in their lives?

Consider the power of tiny habits.

Professor BJ Fogg, Ph.D., has spent a lifetime studying how human behavior works. He directs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and works to create systems that change human behavior.

Fogg calls his work Behavior Design.

The key to change, Fogg has found, is the right combination of motivation, ability and triggers. He’s taken the system and reduced it to three simple steps.

Start small

 Think of something you want to do. Make it as simple as possible. For instance, if you want to start flossing, your goal is to floss one tooth. A tiny goal like this makes it more likely you’ll actually accomplish it. “The easier the behavior, the less it depends on motivation,” Fogg explains, since constant motivation is unreliable.

Find an anchor

An anchor is an activity you are already doing that you can tie to the new habit. It follows this pattern: After I (routine), I will (tiny behavior). For example, after I (brush my teeth) I will (floss one tooth).

Celebrate immediately

To reinforce your success, add a little celebration when you’ve done your tiny habit. Say “Yes!” Raise your arms. Thumbs up. Big smile. Whatever makes you feel good.

Repeat each day for a week.

That’s it. 

Fogg says “the results are the best I’ve ever seen in any program.” Why? Because these tiny habits are so simple they don’t rely on unpredictable motivation. And that dramatically increases the success rate. Over time, tiny habits lead to bigger ones.

Search #tinyhabits on Twitter for tiny testimonials. And if you want, give it a try by signing up (it’s free) for Tiny Habits.

How can you incorporate Tiny Habits into your online patient community?

  • Introduce the concept in your community news section or in a blogpost.
  • Start a conversation: What tiny habit would you like to start?
  • Share some examples of tiny habits:
    • After I answer the phone I will stand and walk while I talk.
    • After I (routine) I will take my meds.
    • After I use the bathroom I will think of one thing I’m grateful for.
    • After I take a drink of water I will take a deep cleansing breath.
    • After I eat my dinner I will put on my exercise shoes.
    • After I feed the dog I will open my health journal.

Sometimes you choose a “before” action.

  • Before I go to bed, I’ll put my blood glucose meter on my nightstand.

 And although it’s a bit more than a tiny step:

  • After I eat my breakfast I will log on to my community.

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Why are Hospitals Slow to Develop Online Patient Support Communities?

Jennings Principal Dan Dunlop, has written an insightful article that addresses the question: Why are hospitals slow to develop online patient support communities?

In Dan’s article, Paul Speyser of CareHubs identifies three key factors:

  • CEOs and other healthcare executives are already stretched thin by changes in the healthcare industry and therefore reluctant to add any new initiatives
  • Fears that these communities would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Concern and misunderstanding surrounding privacy and HIPAA.

Inspite of these concerns, Dan outlines some compelling benefits to participating in online patient support communities. 

It’s a good read.

The article, titled The Connected Patient: Information Currency in Online Communities, was published in eHealth Strategy and Trends. You can download a PDF of the article here.

photo credit Flickr: Redbraz

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