November 18, 2021

Develop great content to build audience engagement

Hands holding a lit light bulb

Think about all the information that people in your community need from you: locations, treatment and service options, lists of practitioners, ways to engage your services.

Now consider the information that people might want from you: advice on healthy living and disease prevention, tips for mental wellbeing, healthcare for kids and teens, community activities for seniors.

People tend to access that must-have content when they need care, but they’ll turn to you for tips and advice and practical info when they’re well. By positioning your brand as a respected resource, this “softer” content builds engagement and trust with your external audience and keeps you top of mind when they need your services. In addition, it’s a gateway for patients and prospects to engage further with you — so it’s critical that it includes relevant links to services and other need-to-know pages on your website.

What’s more, this kind of content helps people take more ownership of their health. This is an important initiative in the movement toward value-based care, which rewards providers for the positive health outcomes of their patients, not just the number of procedures they perform.

Content is an important component of any marketing plan. So let’s dig into the particulars:

  • What forms it can take
  • How to know what kind of information your audience wants
  • How to manage and create ongoing content

Key Attributes of Great Content for Healthcare, Nonprofit and Community-based Organizations

Man typing content on laptop

We call this type of information “service-oriented content” because it aims to serve your community or audience. It packages expert advice in a lifestyle framework to help people achieve better physical and mental health for themselves and their families. For community-based organizations, service content might include articles that destigmatize mental healthcare, offer tips on aging in place, or share success stories from folks you’ve helped. For healthcare providers, it might look like recipes for heart health, tips on fitness for mobility, or essentials to ask your child’s pediatrician.

Healthcare, nonprofit and community-based organization marketers are smart to borrow communication forms used by traditional media outlets. Think: personal narratives, how-to articles, listicles, trend reports, Q&As. Video is a great format for content that people will understand better when they see it — short cooking demos, exercise techniques, “Ask a Doc” interviews, facility tours. If you’re a little put off by the idea of filming your own videos, know that audiences welcome a less-than-polished style. Feel free to experiment with your mobile device and its basic built-in editing tools.

Your brand’s website is the home base for service-oriented content — it might live on a blog page or, if you’re marketing a large regional network, you might create a microsite or landing page (and maybe even give it a clever name) so that it stands apart from your service offerings.

Given its helpful nature, service content is ideal for sharing via social channels and e-newsletters. Remember: Audiences will come to your website when they’re seeking info they need; conversely, you’ll want to push this softer content out to them.

Discover What Your Audience Wants to Know

White sheet of paper with the word "Audience" written on it and arrows pointing toward the word.

Healthcare, nonprofit and community-based organization messaging is most powerful when it’s patient-centric or client-specific, focused on their interests, not your organization’s priorities. Knowing what people are searching for gives you a better understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and the information they want. When they see your brand as a helpful resource, they’ll turn to you when they need care.

So how do you identify topics that will resonate? Start with your website analytics to understand what pages users are visiting most frequently, where they come from, and where they’re spending their time on your site. Your services pages are especially relevant: Can you see patterns of increased activity that might prompt content topics like knee stabilization exercises or functional fitness or diet trends?

Look at your past marketing activities, as well. If a campaign generated stronger than typical results, consider how you might spin that into topics for articles or videos. Another valuable internal source of ideas is your customer service or patient/client advocate staff. They likely have direct insights about common questions or conversations they have with your audience.

From there, turn to online tools to help identify common search terms. A simple trick is to ask Google a question and look at the entries under the “People also ask” header. This can help you fine-tune your content to what people are actually searching for. You can also sign up for Google Alerts to get daily notices of topical news in your areas of interest.

Semrush is a powerful keyword-search service that will show you what people commonly type into Google and other browsers. AnswerThePublic is a really cool tool that’s built for content ideation. Type “knee replacement” into the search box and you’ll get a visual map of 80 phrases that users have searched including:

Why get knee replacement?

What type of knee replacement is best?

How are knee replacements done?

Can knee replacement help arthritis?

For lighter, lifestyle-type content, our team finds Pinterest’s Idea function to be a source of inspiration. It delves into what is popular on Pinterest by topics.

A caveat when you’re using online resources like these: Remember who your specific audience is, localize what you learn, and pay attention to sources so you’re not passing along dubious information.

Content creation is a do-test-learn activity. Once you begin publishing articles and videos, you’ll quickly see what gains traction and use that insight to develop future articles.

Managing a Content Creation Program

Railroad tracks at a switching stations where trains can be get on different tracks.

For many of the community-based organizations, nonprofits and healthcare providers we work with, the biggest roadblock to a robust service-oriented content program is resources. Our experience suggests that it takes someone in-house to manage the editorial plan. That involves coordinating input, planning topics, overseeing the brand voice, and handling the logistics of publishing.

You can start small and build a business case for adding a content hub to your marketing toolkit. Begin with audience research that can help you develop a library of in-demand topics, then create an editorial calendar that schedules and prioritizes content. You can thematically link articles and videos to your ongoing campaigns, or to awareness programs like American Heart Month or National Nurses Month.

From the get-go, commit to consistency: If you’re not able to start and maintain a publication schedule of at least two pieces per month (which boosts your search engine ranking and keeps your audience interested), it’s not worth doing.

While it’s essential to retain oversight of your content publishing in-house, you can tap outside resources to actually create the content. Look for experienced healthcare writers who have an easy style and a knack for translating medical topics for laypeople. Your healthcare, nonprofit or community-based organization marketing agency is certainly an excellent resource for ongoing content. Too, consider partnerships with local media, bloggers, influencers, organizations, etc., who can provide low-cost content in exchange for exposure. (Note: You’ll want to make sure that those partners are aligned with your brand values.)

For healthcare, nonprofit and community-based organizations, service-oriented content is an important component of any marketing plan. It not only gives your audience important and useful information, but it also demonstrates your expertise, builds trust, and engenders goodwill for your brand. The ideal content plan lies where your marketing goals and your audience’s interests overlap.

Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes the external and internal messaging for organizations that support living healthier lives. Through insightful brand strategy, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate to their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.