You’re so ready for content marketing. You’ve polled your patients about what kind of content they’d like to see. You’ve learned everything there is to learn about SEO. You know how and when to post to each social media platform — that article about wintertime skin care that you linked on Facebook got shared a dozen times.
You’ve set up a blog on your practice website (and learned how to use it), you’ve gotten entry-level video equipment for YouTube, and you’ve even convinced your receptionist to hold the camera when you shoot medical procedures. (Your receptionist deserves a raise.)
Now all you have to do is start producing content…
If your heart clenched when you read that, it’s okay — you’re not alone. That first big step is a doozy. Here are a few tips for making the exhilarating jump out of the content-production airplane.
Of all of the tasks associated with content strategy, thinking of article topics can be the most intimidating. Make it easier by scheduling inspiration time just like you’d schedule any other task, and spend half an hour or so a day hunting for ideas.
- Look through the news to see what’s fresh — particularly if there’s a medical issue that you know something about.
- Look at your calendar to see if any special occasions are coming up, whether it’s a national holiday, a special day at your office, or even the turn of a season or the first day of school.
- Keep an eye on social media streams to see what conversations are taking place among your patients, your colleagues, and people in your community.
- Sift through other medical blogs and see if there are any subjects you don’t see addressed, or subjects that you could address from a different perspective.
Write down ideas as they come up — even the bad ones. A bad idea now could be massaged into a good idea in the future. Try to generate a good collection of evergreen posts (posts on subjects that are always relevant and fresh, regardless of the time or season — like an evergreen tree, right?) to have on hand for periods when the ideas just aren’t flowing.
Chances are, you already have a pretty full schedule — the time you aren’t spending with patients is spent on paperwork, and the time you aren’t spending on paperwork, you’d really rather be with your family or relaxing on your own. Writing blog posts, shooting videos, and coming up with social media content does take extra time, and we wouldn’t ask you to do it if it weren’t important.
Where you find that extra time depends on you, your practice, and your schedule. If your day is full up, get to the office half an hour early to write blog posts, or stay half hour after everyone has gone home. If you find yourself eating lunch at your desk on a regular basis, that would be a great time to close your door, kick your shoes off under your desk, and work on content. Don’t think of it as one more stressful chore on your plate — think of it as a little bit of quiet time during the day to think and be creative, when no one gets to interrupt you unless someone is literally bleeding.
It’s also important to delegate. Make it a fun activity for your whole team to share — designate a staffer to head up social media efforts, split blogging duties with another doctor or nurse in the practice, pay your third-grader two bucks an hour to find royalty-free images to go with your posts. If you aren’t a natural writer — plenty of people aren’t — find someone on your staff who loves writing, or hire a freelancer. Offer a local med student an opportunity to shadow you, in exchange for an occasional post for your blog. You don’t have to go it alone.
Making an Editorial Calendar
A good editorial calendar takes a lot of the stress out of a digital marketing program — there’s no panic about what’s going to be posted when, or how you’ll fit it all in with everything else going on at your practice. Slick, fancy digital calendars are nice, but in the beginning, a basic paper version can help you and your team get a feel for arranging and scheduling content.
- Sit down with a big desk-blotter calendar and a pack of sticky notes. (The little 3” x 1” ones are great for this purpose.)
- Write one post idea on each note, using a different color for each platform — your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
- Start laying them all out on the calendar: timely ones first, then posts that are part of a series, and then more evergreen posts, which you can reuse. Remember to schedule social media promotion to go along with any video or blog content that goes up.
- Step back two steps and look at the pretty Post-it colors to make sure you’re posting consistently — if you only have one blog post per week, for instance, that’s fine, but make sure you post one every week, on the same day.
- Hang the calendar somewhere visible to your entire social media and content team (but somewhere reasonably out-of-the-way — one good brush from a flapping lab coat can send a whole week of tweets fluttering to the ground).
- If something post-worthy pops up, such as new medical news or a bolt of inspiration for a time-sensitive post, just write it on a sticky note and shift things around on the calendar to make room for it.
Aim for six weeks’ worth of posts at a time — but don’t panic if you don’t have them yet. It’s a target, not a requirement. You’ll soon get into a rhythm of brainstorming, producing, and posting. (And then you’ll be ready for a fancy digital calendar.)
Taking the Plunge
Go for it. Just do it. Write the thing, and then post it online. Ultimately, the path from “doctor with a lot of social media accounts” to “content producer” is just posting your words or video online and clicking “Publish.” Go forth and write!