Social Media Content Calendar: Where Do I Start?
May 2, 2017
Dear House Rules,
I oversee marketing for a large hospital system, and while producing an annual report and a few newsletters each year used to be enough, now I see my competitors all over social media. I want our organization to be playing in the social media space too, but I need help developing a content calendar, and don’t know how to begin.
No more social (media) wallflower
Dear No Wallflower:
You’re exactly right – social media is the place to be these days if you have a service to market. After all, the most basic rule of marketing is “Go where your customers are.” And where are they? Online, specifically on social media. In fact, more than half of internet users use two or more of the mainstream social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn) daily, according to research from the Pew Research Center. There are lots of reasons to use social media; one of them is to research and browse before making a major health decision. Your prospective patients go to platforms like Facebook to compare practices, comb through reviews, and dissect the type of community you’ve built online. In other words, patients use social media to make a decision on which healthcare practice to align with.
To reach them, it’s helpful to have a guidebook to help you stay on target without missing a step. Formulating a social media calendar will help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed or lost in the digital woods.
Here are 4 quick tips to help you create a social media calendar that’ll grow your audience and increase traffic to your practice:
1. Choose the right platform(s)
There are a number of big-name social networks out there, but not every network is ideal for your practice or target audience. One of the biggest considerations is the age of your target audience – is someone looking for a reliable hospital to perform their hip surgery operation likely to be posting selfies to Instagram or sharing pictures of their grandchildren on Facebook? Conduct market research (and survey your existing patients) to learn where they spend the most time.
Once you choose your networks, you want to create a spreadsheet with one worksheet (tab) for each social network. The reason to use a different worksheet per network is because each network requires its own type of messaging, voice, and even frequency of publication.
That’s not to say you can’t promote the same content across several platforms at the same time; only, you should tailor each message to the network (for example, studies show using hashtags in a Facebook post actually drives people not to click, whereas with Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are a must).
2. Start crafting and curating your content
The purpose of your social media calendar is to plan out your posts well in advance. This means deciding on the content you want to post. Often times you’ll be posting content produced by others (known as content curation). Using tools like Feedly or Google Alerts can help you easily mine this content from reputable sources and publications. If/when you plan on promoting your own content, your social media calendar will help you and your team know what’s scheduled in the future. For example, if your calendar says that you plan to promote a blog post about the latest hip replacement research study from scientists at the Mayo Clinic next month, you know that this is a blog post that has to be published before then.
Be sure to populate each of your tabs. Ideally, you’ll schedule out your posts by day and time, so that you can analyze this data later on (more on that in #4). When crafting the posts for each network, keep in mind best-practices and space limitations. For example, Twitter currently allows only 140 characters. Also, be sure to affix an image to every post, as images help improve clicks.
3. Capitalize on trending topics in your field
Social media has turned every day into something. Whether it’s National Nurses Week, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or staff birthdays, these occasions should find their way onto your social media calendar. Where it’s appropriate, include related hashtags to be sure that your messaging finds a wider audience. Think about creative ways you can stand out with your social post. Perhaps you can include a GIF, a captivating image, or tie in a related service offer or blog post you’ve published.
4. Use your calendar as an analytics tool
Calendars are not just for looking forward. The information you capture on your spreadsheet will help you continuously optimize and improve your social strategy. Review past months and mark what kinds of posts generated the most views or shares. What times and days seemed to be most effective? Which platforms are gaining the most traffic?
As you become a social media pro, you’ll discover that once you master a few basic practices, you can actually enjoy a tremendous return on investment, without having to dedicate a vast amount of time or energy, in large part due to the ongoing analysis of your calendar.
If you’re feeling daunted at the prospect of managing a social media content calendar (and creating the content itself), we’ve got you covered. At Xavier Creative House, we would be happy to partner with you for a one-time social media consultation or ongoing content generation. Our team is experienced in this new and exciting method of reaching customers.
Reference: http://cardinalwebsolutions.com/blog/develop-healthcare-social-media-calendar-practice/. Accessed April 27, 2017.
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