How to Become a Thought Leader in Healthcare
Everyone is an expert in something…
Why not take that knowledge and put a voice to it online to benefit your healthcare organization? Whether you work in the development office or on the communications or marketing team, you have something to say. Put your knowledge to good use by positioning your organization as a thought leader — a well-respected influencer within the industry.
So, what is a thought leader?
A thought leader is an individual or organization that is recognized as one of the top authorities within their area of specialization; they’re the go-to expert in their industry. Thought leaders tap into the talent, excitement, and passion within their industry or business to answer the biggest questions floating in the minds of their target audiences. And, they offer their answers in the mediums where their audience likes to consume information.
For example, our main man, Simon Sinek, is a thought leader. Whether he’s hosting a TED talk or sending a tweet, Sinek is always asking us to “start with why” and transforming the way we think about leadership and business.
Thought leadership is a key part of content marketing. You’re a thought leader if others care about what you have to say and view you as a prominent source of information. People trust you and seek out your opinion when they need fundraising guidance or healthy living advice, for example. Whatever they need, your content, your voice, and your knowledge are top of mind. As a thought leader, you have the power to persuade, the reputation and authority to set trends, and the clout to drive progress and innovation in healthcare.
Here are some tips to get you there.
Have a Plan
The first step to becoming a thought leader is building your brand and your platform. You need dedicated social media channels and a branded blog on your website for outreach and content promotion. (If you’re not set up for success yet, Graphcom can help. Let’s chat.)
Already sharing content on social media or on your blog? Look at your analytics to see which blog posts, social media content, or pages on your website get the most page views and engagement, or which social media content is clicked on the most. You may start to notice trends of information your audience is interested in. If you notice that people engage more with Facebook posts that contain patient stories, for example, start to compile a list of patients to feature.
In an editorial calendar, outline engaging topics you’d like to feature, dates and times to schedule content, names of authors who will create content, how and where you plan to deliver the content (on your blog, across social media channels, via your email newsletter, a pitch to an industry publication or local news outlet, etc.), and how well your content has performed. Keep in mind your organization’s overarching goals and factor those topics or big ideas into your plan, too.
One obstacle many healthcare marketing folks face is that their experts don’t have the time, energy, interest, or resources to devote to content creation themselves. Don’t underestimate the impact of a good ghostwriter. Graphcom’s editorial team can help to create your editorial calendar and create and distribute impactful content (both text and multimedia) that gets your organization noticed. (Interested? Let’s talk!)
If you’ve won an award, attended a conference, or recently hired a new expert, tell the world. The best way to inform your audience of your company’s news is a press release. Besides sharing accomplishments on social media channels, sending out press releases to promote news can boost your reputation with local and national media outlets as a thought leader.
If you’re an expert in community health issues, write an article. Pitch it to your local newspaper or news channel and be heard.
There are so many great tools and resources out there to use to your advantage. HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a platform that journalists use to look for experts when writing a story. You can sign up to receive their regular alerts with story queries, and respond when one of your in-house experts might be a good match. In addition to sending news and looking for topics that align with your expertise, you should begin to build relationships with local media (print, TV, radio, etc.) so when they’re looking for a healthcare source, yours is the first organization that comes to mind.
Sponsorships are another great way to promote your brand and identify yourself as a thought leader. A community health challenge or a school sporting event could be the perfect way to make your presence known. It’s also a great event to write about on your blog!
A thought leader is someone people turn to when they have a question or need more insight on a topic or problem. One of the keys to positioning yourself as a thought leader is to lend your expertise to topics that matter — topics that people want to learn more about.
Check out Feedly for trending articles on various topics. You can personalize news feeds to topics related to your niche, and browse each topic either separately or all together in one feed. Consider doing an SEO keyword research to find key phrases or terms people are searching for online. This will help you brainstorm content topics you know your audience want to learn more about.
Think about the forms of content you’re providing, too. For example, video is a fantastic medium to share your expertise, build your profile, and connect with your audience. Viewers not only engage more with visual content, but they’re also more likely to develop a personal connection with your organization when watching your videos. A video featuring one of your service lines, like this one we created for Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital’s Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program, can give your audience an insider’s look at what your organization does every day and the impact it has on people in your community. Graphcom’s video marketing expertise can be just the thing to take your thought leadership from good to great.
Use News to Your Advantage
Offer your professional commentary on a trending news topic. If a hospital in the U.S. has been sued or fined for malpractice, offer your take on the issue and describe the measures your hospital takes to avoid that. Or, if a new drug is being tested, interview one of your doctors for their opinion on its effectiveness and likeliness to be used in the coming years. It’s easier to keep your audience interested when you stay up-to-date with news they can relate to.
Leverage awareness months, too. Our client, Frederick Regional Health System, is a great example. Often, we collaborative on monthly blog posts for various awareness months, like breast cancer awareness or fall prevention. Awareness months are a chance for your organization to call attention to important topics already in the news or top of mind while offering your own spin on it.
A true thought leader will acknowledge a breakthrough in the field by other experts. It’s okay to site news from another media outlet or source, or share links to other sources on your blog or social media as long as your take on it is original, different, and relates directly to your audience.
Be Friendly and Personable
Leave the medical speak between providers; your content should be written at a 6th-grade reading level. If you write like an Ivy League professor or overwhelm your audience with medical terminology, they’ll quickly lose interest.
Creating personal profiles and featuring staff can help build your relationship with the community. People want to know who’s taking care of them, and putting faces to the doctors’ names they hear adds a more personal connection. You can feature staff in articles, videos, case studies, profiles, and more. FRHS recognizes new or outstanding doctors on their social media as well as their blog posts, which allows the community to put a face to their care providers.
Cut Back on the Hard Facts
Another way to make your content more readable and respectable is to cut back on the hard facts. We’ve all been taught that statistics and percentages are beneficial, but too many numbers can make your audience lose interest. Keep your statistics to a minimum; only report the most important, hard-hitting ones.
Collaborate with other thought leaders. Guest post on their blogs, discuss opportunities to share one another’s content, and consider “interviewing” or quoting them as sources within your own content. Leveraging their tout in the industry will give you more authority, too. Your interviewees may even repost your content to their social media (if not, ask them!), which will give you more exposure.
Becoming a thought leader takes time and effort, and the title is definitely earned. However, there are easy steps you can take to get your organization recognized and respected. Remember, you’re not necessarily trying to sell something; you’re trying to make sure yours is the go-to name in your field of expertise.
Ready to become a thought leader in healthcare? Graphcom’s skilled editorial team can help. Give us a call at 800-669-1664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.