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Hashtag Misuse

Only You Can Prevent Hashtag Misuse

Do your research. Or end up with #EGG on your face.

hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.

Communication has and will continue to evolve. It is a powerful tool when used correctly, and social media has taken communication to new heights. Now, we can reach beyond our own networks to communicate, discover and assemble instantly.  However, a tool is only as powerful as its operator.

Though each social network has its own way of displaying posts under a certain hashtag, and their own algorithms for specifying trending content, these rules tend to hold true in general across each social channel. Follow them and you too can prevent hashtag misuse.

Only you can prevent hashtag misuse

Amendola Communications Honored as a Top Healthcare Agency in Ragan and PR Daily’s Ace Awards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 22, 2018Amendola Communications, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and healthcare IT (HIT) public relations and marketing agency, announced today that it has added another accolade from the PR industry. The agency was recently recognized in the overall Healthcare Agency category in Ragan and PR Daily’s Ace Awards 2017.

The Honorable Mention award is just the latest national recognition for the agency, which provides a full range of PR and marketing services, including media and analyst relations, messaging, media training, content development and management, social media, digital and online marketing, collateral development, website design and content creation, crisis management, strategic counsel and other services.

“We have received many awards focused on specific campaigns, but we’re especially proud of this award from Ragan and PR Daily because it recognizes the agency as a whole – our work, how we operate, our development of a high-performance team and culture, and the results we generate for clients,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “We’ve lived and breathed healthcare technology for nearly two decades and, as a result, have developed a team of healthcare veterans with the experience, connections and creativity to drive meaningful business results for businesses of all sizes, whether they’re early-stage startups or established public companies.”

The Ace Awards honor individuals, in-house teams and agencies in communications and marketing. Entrants represent the most talented and innovative thinkers across a variety of industries.

Media Contact:
Marcia Rhodes
Amendola Communications
480.664.8412 ext. 15
mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com

When a social media crisis strikes, what do you do?

Imagine this: after weeks of planning then pouring time and resources into your social media efforts you are starting to see results. You are gaining new followers and engaging with potential customers. Your efforts are clearly working and just when everything seems like sunshine and rainbows, there it is, loud and proud hate mail plastered on your front page and quickly gaining likes, shares and similarly-frustrated commenters. What do you do?

Take a deep breath.

Let’s face it, no one is lining up for their chance to deal with negative comments on social media. But, with the right plan of action in hand, dealing with these problems doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a great opportunity to learn more about your customers and engage with them at a critical point in the buyer’s journey.

When something negative about your company starts gaining traction you need to determine if it is a crisis that needs attention from more people or if it is a small problem that can be solved. If there is something negative about your company that is well-known and commonly addressed, it’s probably not a crisis. There is likely already a protocol for how to deal with this type of regular negativity within your PR or sales department. However, if there is something new about your product or company stirring up serious attention on social media it might be time to dive in and handle the crisis!

Phone a friend

If you are managing the social account or if you are personally invested in the subject of the negativity it’s a good idea to ask a colleague or your agency for some advice. Being removed from the situation helps when looking for the right approach to take.

Not everyone has the same sense of humor. It’s good to run your response by someone else to make sure your response won’t be taken the wrong way. While sometimes taking the low road may work in your favor, such as the social media sass-master at Wendy’s, it’s usually best to take the high road and be polite.

Avoid sounding defensive

Whenever something negative happens on social media it is easy to take it personally. Your first reaction will be to react in a defensive manner. Let’s say someone commented on your company site saying that you never provide xyz, when in fact you do. Well, of course you want tell the commenter they are wrong! However, that’s not going to get you many brownie points from your audience. What goes online stays online and can spiral quickly.

It’s like sending a snarky email to a coworker and then seeing they forwarded the email to a large group. *Insert big gulp* Remember that whatever you put out there can be interpreted and then shared in a way you didn’t originally intend.

Never reply to online reviews defensively and two years later like the screenshots above. As cringe-worthy as these comments are, it’s easy to go into defensive mode without a plan in place.

Let’s say one customer leaves a nasty review about your company or product. Then customer 2 comes along and reads the review. If you respond to customer 1 with compassion and show a willingness to listen to their feedback or fix the problem, you can turn that review into something positive for customer 2 to see. Instead of winding up on a blog post about what not to do when responding to negative reviews. 

Take swift action

Negative comments and mentions on social media need to be handled in a timely manner and with care, just like a positive comment. Whenever possible, get ahead of the problem and address it before there is a chance for the comment to gain momentum.

When possible be proactive in avoiding potentially offensive or misinterpreted posts. When a national crisis or traumatic event happens hit pause on your social queue. Review posts before unfortunate timing can make your company seem obtuse.

Fix the problem

Do your best to fix the problem at hand when you have the opportunity. Don’t make any promises unless you know you can follow through. Show everyone that you are a company that listens to customers’ needs. After all they are the ones using your product or service. Most angry comments and reviews online stem from a need to be heard.

Fix the problem without escalating the frustration of the user when possible. Asking for more information and show a willingness to work through the problem if necessary. Offer to take the conversation to private message or offline. 

Admit when you’re wrong

Mistakes will happen. Own up to them and diffuse the situation quickly. It’s better to admit you are wrong compared to letting someone else point out your flaws. Addressing the problem immediately shows your company is actively searching for a solution and aware when things go wrong. You may even be rewarded for your honesty.

 

Has a social media crisis ever happened to you? Comment with your story or questions!

 

 

 

iN2L Returns to Amendola Communications and Expands Public Relations and Content Program

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Aug. 29, 2017 – Amendola Communications, an award-winning healthcare marketing and public relations agency, announced today that It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L), the leader in providing person-centered engagement, content and technology solutions for seniors, has selected Amendola Communications as its agency of record. Amendola will provide a range of public relations and content services that promote iN2L as a pioneer and innovator whose mission is to make life worth living for older adults by enabling them to connect, engage and enjoy life leveraging technology.

Previously, iN2L engaged Amendola to elevate its social media presence. The firm successfully executed a program that generated the following results for iN2L in the first six months: 28% new page likes on Facebook; 17% new Twitter followers and 30% new LinkedIn connections.

“I have always been impressed with the Amendola team’s in-depth knowledge of the healthcare IT, long-term care and resident/patient engagement space, as well as their strong commitment to results-oriented client service,” said Tom Bang, chief executive officer of iN2L. “They proactively hit the ground running with several earned article placements in tier one press, multiple media interviews, and strategic guidance from a team of six senior level executives. We’re delighted to be working with them again.”

iN2L works with over 2,000 senior living communities – including independent living, assisted living, nursing homes and adult day programs – in all 50 states and three countries. iN2L integrates the hardware, software and media with personalized educational and therapeutic content necessary to allow virtually any person with any interest in using a computer, regardless of background, physical or intellectual abilities, to do so pleasurably, engagingly and without frustration.

“A repeat client is a testament to the value we bring to our partnerships,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “We look forward to advancing iN2L’s mission in the marketplace and to working once again with industry leaders, Tom Bang and Jack York.”

Amendola Communications will provide public relations and marketing communications services, including social media programming, strategic counsel and media relations. The agency will also be responsible for delivering a range of content demonstrating the thought leadership and expertise of iN2L’s subject matter experts, including bylined articles, blog posts, press releases and other communication materials.

About It’s Never 2 Late
It’s Never 2 Late® (iN2L) develops digital engagement technology for senior living community residents, with over 2,500 installations in the United States and Canada. The company’s picture-based, touchscreen interface provides easy connectivity to the Internet, regardless of users’ physical and cognitive abilities. iN2L’s media library offers 4,000 social, educational, spiritual and gaming content options. For more information, visit www.in2l.com.

About Amendola Communications

Amendola Communications is an award-winning national public relations, marketing communications, social media and content marketing firm. Named one of the best information technology (IT) PR firms in the nation by PRSourceCode for four years running, Amendola represents some of the best-known brands and groundbreaking startups in the healthcare and healthcare IT industries. Amendola’s seasoned team of PR and marketing pros delivers strategic guidance and effective solutions to help organizations boost their reputation and drive market share. For more information about the PR industry’s “A Team”, visit www.acmarketingpr.com, and follow Amendola on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:

Marcia Rhodes, Amendola Communications, 480.664.8412 ext. 15 / mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com

Your Brand: What Healthcare Can Learn from Disney and Keen Shoes

It takes years to build brand equity, and just an instant to tarnish it. The best brands know the brand must drive every interaction with stakeholders, including investors, the media and the public. Failing to “lead with the brand” may result in lost opportunities to create loyal ambassadors.

One crucial make-or-break moment for many brands is how they respond to customer complaints.

For retail companies, this should be Brand 101. Healthcare companies, meanwhile, are only now starting to consider patients as consumers, due in part to the greater share of the cost of care being borne by patients through higher deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance.

As patient/consumers have more “skin in the game”, demand is rising for a consumer experience that is more like what the best retail companies offer. Healthcare companies would do well to pay attention to best practices—and pitfalls–across the retail industry. So here is a “Tale of Two Brands”.

Recently, my friend Eric and I had wildly different experiences with two popular consumer brands.

First, my experience: I bought a set of pajamas from disneystore.com featuring the character Maui from the Moana film. When my toddler saw the pajamas, he squealed “You’re Welcome!” (Maui’s signature phrase) with delight. But the shorts and the top were two different sizes, and the bottom was too small. Here’s what happened next:

Great example of putting the brand first

Within an hour, Brandon had turned a customer with a complaint into a brand ambassador, offering to send another pair of pajamas, no questions asked. I did share my positive experience with friends and “Mom” networks. Also, Brandon suggested that I donate the mismatched pair of pajamas to “spread the Disney magic”, and since I have such a great feeling abut the company, I’m happy to do so. In fact, my opinion of the company is considerably higher than before I ever had this complaint.

Contrast this with my friend Eric’s experience with a popular shoe brand that was initially less than “keen” about replacing a pair of sandals that had ripped apart after a couple of months. This pair was a replacement for a first pair of sandals that broke after just a few weeks. The company has a one-year warranty in place, but they initially refused to honor it, saying it doesn’t cover replacement items. Here’s Keen’s initial response to Eric’s warranty claim:

Hello Eric,
Your warranty claim #WKUS0181563ES has been denied.

KEEN’s warranty program covers manufacturing and materials flaws for one year on original items purchased from KEEN authorized retailers. This warranty does not extend to items that were purchased from www.keenfootwear.com with promo codes awarded to satisfy previous warranty claims. 

We have included a discount code for www.keenfootwear.com below as an accommodation. Promo Code: WR-HP53-MZDP-L4Discount: 20%

Brad KEEN Warranty Specialist

Brad, Thank you for your response. I’m disappointed, frankly. What I’m seeing in your policy is that your company wants the benefit of SAYING you offer a warranty, without actually standing behind your products. Would it really cost you THAT much to make this right for someone (me) that really wants to be your customer?? I believe that your company can do better. Who can I talk to that has the power to make this right for me? Regards, Eric

Eric, You are certainly welcome to contact the KEEN Fan Services supervisor or manager at 866.676.5336 to plead your case. We stand by our inspector’s verdict on this claim and cannot offer any additional accommodation for this pair. Our warranty terms and conditions state quite clearly that items obtained with warranty promo codes from previous claims are not eligible for replacement consideration. The warranty department at KEEN considers this matter closed and we apologize for any inconvenience that this causes you. Best regards, Brad KEEN Warranty Specialist 

Eric then started posting on his own Facebook page about his experience, with photos of the broken shoes. Then he reached out to the Keen Facebook page. Finally, four days later, the head of customer service reached out to Eric, asking him to order a new pair of his choosing to replace the ripped sandals.

Assuming this next pair is good quality, Eric says he’ll remain a Keen customer. But his opinion of the company is damaged by the experience. It’s a tremendous missed opportunity because—though Keen doesn’t know it—Eric is an outdoor educator who interfaces with hundreds of kids (and their parents) each year.

He runs a Pioneer camp in Florida which couldn’t be more “on brand” for Keen, as both emphasize the joys of “unplugging” and enjoying nature. Moreover, Keen has a enlisted a number of brand ambassadors who each “represents a convergence of KEEN’s values and interests”. Eric would be a great addition to that group. But, initially, Keen’s customer service operation failed to lead with the brand, and didn’t take the time to understand its customer and his concerns. Instead, it stuck to a blanket rule, and referenced Eric as a warranty claim number, not as the brand fan he was before the incident.

So, what can healthcare companies learn from this Tale of Two Brands?

1. Speed matters

Resolving a problem quickly is a key to maintaining brand loyalty. Disney is known for their lightning quick responses to customer problems, and my experience was no exception. Brandon responded to my query within an hour, while Eric had to wait four days before getting a satisfactory response from Keen. Now, to be fair, Disney is a much, much larger company, with many more employees, so it’s understandable that Keen’s response would take longer. Unfortunately, Eric did receive an initial response quickly, but the response did not seek to understand or resolve his problem.

2. Personalize the response

Disney was able to mail me a new set of pajamas with nothing more than my Facebook name and town. They knew exactly who they were talking to, when I had bought the pajamas, what size, and my address. This kind of sophisticated contact center is rare. But smaller organizations can ask questions to get the personal information and understand the particular needs of the customer, rather than refer to a warranty claim number, which was off-putting in Eric’s case.

3. Empower employees

Disney’s approach to gaining and maintaining brand equity is to give employees the power to solve problems, not to just enforce the rules and say no. Once someone higher up the chain at Keen understood that Eric was not trying to game the warranty system, but in fact had TWO pairs of shoes fail in the space of weeks or months, the company agreed to replace the shoes. But if Brad—Eric’s first contact at the company–was empowered to ask the details of the story, and then respond based on the specific situation, it could have been resolved more quickly and positively

4. Ask your critics to be your fans

Since my Disney issue was resolved so quickly, I immediately offered to share my experience. But Brandon asked me to go one step further and share the replaced pajamas – which were good quality, but simply mismatched sizes. This may give the company the opportunity to earn another fan who becomes a customer in the future. It’s clear, at Disney, that the public relations and brand teams drive all interactions with the public. This creates a unified, top-to-bottom messaging experience, applied to anyone who interfaces with the company. Keen still has the opportunity to turn Eric into a brand ambassador. A great PR operation might seize this chance to engage Eric and his campers, since the camp and company missions are aligned. They could, for instance, give sandals to a small group of kids, then take photos of the campers for the Keen website or other marketing collateral.

The takeaway for healthcare

Healthcare organizations can become more like the best consumer brands by taking a proactive approach to patient complaints and concerns. By responding quickly to patient concerns, seeing patients as individuals, empowering staff to solve problems and asking newly-satisfied patients to refer their family and friends, healthcare organizations can help to create and retain brand equity. This, in turn, can help drive up patient satisfaction scores, which can have a positive impact on the bottom line, in new value-based care arrangements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting Up Your Website for Social Success

In the good old days of the Internet (we’re talking the 1990s here), clients grappled with the decision to jump on the newest marketing scheme – the website. Advertising and PR agencies, as well as marketing directors, had widely divergent opinions about several components that are now taken for granted.

The conversation has gone from, “Do we really need a website?” to “How can we make our website better?”

I was on a marketing team that received a MAME Award for Best Website. (The Major Achievements in Merchandising Excellence golden trophy is to the homebuilding industry what the Oscar is to Hollywood.)  My employer strolled into my office and said, “Did I mention you’re going to be the guest speaker on websites at today’s Homebuilder’s Association meeting?  We leave in 20 minutes.” After the shock wore off, I must have delivered an intelligent lecture because many of the builders asked me to evaluate their websites.

What surprises me today is that many of the same problems I saw with sites in 2003 still exist. Sure, with WordPress and new design trends, the hot features of today are hero images, video and animation. But in the race to beef up data capture and content marketing, simple, everyday details can easily be overlooked.  Vendors and publishers alike can up their game and make it easier for their audience to engage, sign up, download, interact and purchase.

Here are 6 key areas you should evaluate on your website to ensure maximum engagement:

Contact Information

You would think contact information would be a no-brainer. But when I’m wearing my research hat, nothing makes me yell “REALLY?!” faster than wasting time hunting down basic information. Your address and phone number should be easy to find. Your “Contact Us” link should be at the top or bottom of every page. If people can’t reach you when they have questions about your event or product, they will likely move on to the next vendor on their list.  Don’t be coy. Give ‘em your 411!

Company Directories

In this digital world, time zones abound and chances are someone out there is looking at your website when you are not open for business. There are pros and cons to both popular methods of people reaching you after hours: “Contact Us” forms and Company Directories.

A contact us form (which is what we have on our own company website) can be programmed one time and simply lives on your website. Visitors can, however, be frustrated if you create a pre-populated and mandatory dropdown-list. What if the reason for contacting you isn’t on that list?

My personal favorite is Company Directories such as the one at HIMSS. It’s easy to find their staff and there’s no question who does what. But, you must keep on top of it and update it often.

Monitoring

So, you’ve got an “info@” email address posted on your website. It’s better than nothing. But who reads your incoming message? More than one person? Do you respond to every inquiry?

Whether it’s someone asking a question or providing feedback, a simple follow-up lets your audience know you’re on the ball.

And please watch the automated replies. It’s great to receive a quick email referencing my trouble ticket number. But it doesn’t make a very good impression to acknowledge you received my email and will respond shortly, and then never get back to me.

Follow up. Every. Single. Time.

Tell me thank you, let me know you’ll consider my suggestion, or forward me to the person who can really help me. Don’t leave me in the dark.

Oh, and remember to redirect the routing of your website mail if you have a change in staff.

Testing

The team members monitoring your web mail – inquiries and data capture alike – will know the average number of contacts you receive per month. Any sudden drop in those numbers should be a red flag.

Minor updates in website programming, firewalls and email proxy servers can all wreak havoc on your incoming messages. Test your site from time to time. Send yourself an email from the website or fill out any forms to ensure everything is still running as it should.

Social Media Platforms

Are links to your social platforms elusive? Are they current?

I’ve taken over social media duties for many clients and I am dismayed when I discover they have a LinkedIn account but no way to reach it through their website.

If you have multiple channels, make sure website visitors can reach them. By the same token, if you haven’t tweeted since 2013, it might be best to remove the little blue bird until your account is more current.

Yes, websites can be expensive to program. But a laundry list of social media platforms adds an unnecessary degree of difficulty that makes it so much harder for visitors to engage. Our eyes are now trained to look for social graphics and a text list of Twitter and Facebook will be overlooked.

A much better example is to use the icons with which everyone is familiar. No questions here on how I can engage!

 

 

But let’s not get carried away. Mashable, gotta love you, but honestly, which Twitter handle do I use when I’m trying to share an article you published?

Social Media Sharing

Publications count on social media to increase readership of their articles. Even vendor websites add sharing buttons to the side of their blogs to encourage readers to engage. What surprises me is how often a pre-programmed post opens in my Twitter profile without basic information such as a Twitter handle.

When you set up your Share buttons, be sure the website plug-in of choice includes your Twitter handle. It’s a common mistake and simple to fix. Also, Twitter doesn’t include links in the character count, but it’s still nice to provide a bit.ly (or whatever service you use) so visitors can RT and comment.

Which is, after all, what engagement is all about. To wit, here are some great examples of engagement done right:

Forbes – This site could really improve by adding their Twitter handle and a shortened link, but they get kudos for adding several options of “Tweet This” above the article. Readers will be quick to click that button and get the message out.

Becker’s Hospital Review – Share any of their articles on Twitter and the post starts with “Reading @beckershr” followed by the article title and the link.

Health IT Outcomes – Push the Tweet Share button and the post is auto-populated with the title of the article, a shortened link, and “via @HITOutcomes.”

Politico’s Morning eHealth – Not only does the Share button have all the necessary bits, but the journalists’ Twitter handles are displayed for even further engagement.

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. Not only are these suggestions relatively low-cost fixes, the attention to detail will elevate your website to social success.

What suggestions do you have for making websites more social? Please share them below.

5 Things Social Media Managers Never Do

Grab your Instagram-worthy coffee and make sure you are not guilty of these social media crimes.

Social media marketing is fast paced. Not only does your well thought-out and carefully sliced up 140-character tweet have a short shelf life, but each platform changes almost daily.  However, there are some nuances that remain the same. These are my top 5 mistakes to avoid in the ever-evolving social media game.

1. Use old, wrong or low-quality logos

Twitter’s logo is a bird, not a plane and not a weird version of tumblers “t”. The official logo became the bird with no text in 2012. No, I’m not paid by Twitter’s branding manager, but I am fired up about getting everyone on the same page about the logo misuse!

Whenever you need a social media platform’s logo, it is best to visit their branding guidelines or resources. Usually, you can download a free kit that has the logo in many colors and every type of file format.

Another important logo faux pas to watch out for is the dreaded, low-quality profile picture or thumbnail. Nothing screams “We don’t care about this” more than a bad photo as your profile picture. It’s the first impression your potential customers see and you want it to be a good one! Don’t forget to look at your entire digital presence to make sure you have at least one high-quality photo listed with your brand. Google search is a commonly missed opportunity. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix! Google uses their very own social network information first to populate the search results side bar. Make sure you gave a great photo or high-quality logo and accurate information listed on your Google+ account.

 

2. Spam following attacks

Managers that do this are like the sign spinners of social media marketing.

I understand how this strategy developed as you can get short-term results from using this tactic. But these followers are hardly worth your efforts and are most likely either spam-bots or accounts that are not linked to your decision makers.

You should still keep your ratios clean (follow fewer accounts than you have followers) and follow industry leaders and influencers. The key is to focus your efforts when it makes sense for your strategy, not sporadically and aggressively. Twitter will actually step in when it becomes too much of a problem, but please, never get to that point.

3. Miss an engagement or sales opportunity

Uh, hello? It’s called SOCIAL media. Be social! Especially if you are a B2B organization, this type of engagement just isn’t as common as the B2C counterparts on social media. Capitalize on the opportunity as it arises! There is no shortage of free software available to help manage your engagement. Find brand champions that aren’t tagging your account, yet still praising your name, fix customer problems or complaints and develop new sales leads.

Make sure your engagement is timely and relevant. Search all hashtags used or links shared before posting or replying. Also, make sure the account you are engaging with is a real person not just a bot or an irrelevant twitter user.

4. Forget to sign out of the company account

Yikes! This is an ugly one. People get fired over this and it is not a great situation to be in. Personally, as a practicing social media manager, I steer clear of posting politics on my personal social accounts and I keep it PG. This choice decreases my risk of posting something truly terrible on a company account. Newton’s law of gravity doesn’t apply to the internet. What goes up, stays up on the internet.

There are too many examples like the twitter accident that happened to Chrysler.

Social media managers need to be sure they're not posting personal thoughts on company accounts

5. Assume you have learned everything

The beauty and challenge of social media marketing is that it’s always changing. It’s hard to be the ultimate expert in something that is always changing and moving! Stay in touch with reality and assume there is always something new to learn and observe. I find it to be the best way to approach social media.

Hashtag conversations and meanings can change hourly, platforms have repositioned based on users habits and algorithms change all the time! The Internet is a place where traditional marketing practices and new forms of communication can be used in collaboration to create meaningful engagements with your audience.

Here are a few methods I use to stay up-to-date on my social media marketing skills:
• Use social media platforms for personal use
• Read and subscribe to social media marketing blogs and news outlets
• Listen to podcasts on the digital strategy
• Attend webinars on social media marketing
• Look at competitors or other industries and figure out what is working for them

Make sure not to commit any of these social media mistakes and comment below with other social media rules that stand the test of time.

Tips for Social Media Success

For many, social media is a mysterious beast. In part because it’s such a new means of communication, but also because the primary social media platforms we all use and love – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – can feel like a sea of noise in which developing best practices to engage human users (as opposed to the spam bots) inherently brings with it some challenges. That said, social media marketing in today’s world is a must if you want to engage potential clients, spread the word about what your company is doing, and support your brand with a robust online presence.

Social media marketing best practices, based on measuring trends from those who have seen success, are only now developing. If you think about it, social media is the only communication medium that everyone reading this blog can remember a world without – yet, now it’s nearly impossible to imagine what news, public relations, branding and marketing would look like without it.

Your business needs a social media presence to stay competitive. But, you want to make sure to do it right, lest you risk becoming one of those accounts people ignore – or worse, block completely. Below are five tips for success on any social media platform, as well as information on all-too-common habits to avoid.

Don’t use social media as a soapbox

I have worked in public relations, marketing and branding for a number of years, and this is the most common mistake organizations make. It’s OK to promote yourself on social media, even directly. But, only about 1/3 of the content you post should ever be obviously self-promotional in nature.

The bulk of what is posted on your social media profiles should be third-party content that covers the gamut of what your organization is all about – the services you offer and the issues you’re intimately involved in – in an effort to solidify a “soft” association without being overtly promotional.

It’s awesome to be proud of your company’s solutions and brand image. But, brazen promotion on social media should be kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, no one who isn’t already supporting the work your organization does is interested solely in your brand. The subtle promotion that comes from linking to a good article, or commenting more generally on a specific topic, is what will lure people to follow your profile on social media and share the content they find, which in turn fuels further interest in your organization.

Remember, the goal of social media is largely to get others to promote your organization, and accomplishing that means posting content that is likely to be read and shared. A tweet that acts as an ad is not likely to have that effect, but a link to a great article from a reputable source is going to see some engagement, especially if you add a meaningful comment to the mix.

Know your brand, maintain your voice

The companies in any industry – including healthcare technology – have a wide variety of “voices” they express through their branding. Maybe your organization has a fun, casual image; or perhaps it is the serious type who wants to focus on education. There are no wrong answers. Unless, of course, there’s an issue with consistency.

It’s OK to join in on trending conversations and talk about current events, but you want to be mindful of the tone present in a social media post to ensure each post is supplementing the brand image you want the public to associate with your organization. If your organization has a professional business image and uses social media to highlight social issues, tweeting “Tom Brady is the GOAT! #SuperBowl” is definitely not a good idea, for a variety of reasons.

Sending out a post about the Super Bowl to join a larger conversation is acceptable for any organization, as it’s always good to remind people there are very real people behind corporate walls. However, this should be done in a way that is in harmony with everything else your organization posts on social media, and joining in on trending topics should be done without being controversial and inflammatory. Most importantly, avoid slang and “Internet speak” whenever possible, as this will be seen as disingenuous by those who follow your profile, especially if most of the content you post is of a serious nature.

Don’t #abuse #the #hashtag

If you can naturally fit a #hashtag into a sentence, do it. But never rewrite a good post just to shove some extra hashtags in there. Not only does this fail to fool the automated algorithms that rank posts for display when a certain hashtag is clicked, but you risk looking like spam.

If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you know it’s overrun with spam bots and fake accounts that exist only to gain impressions. Don’t find your organization wrongly associated with that plague by overdoing the hashtags or adding off-topic hashtags to your posts. It won’t work.

Stick with one or two hashtags per post, and if you can’t put them into a sentence without forcing the issue, simply add them to the end, and separate hashtags from your primary message with a “|” whenever possible. For example, “#Ransomware is getting cleverer, not to mention more frightening. This one turns PCs into evil clowns! (Link) | #Cybersecurity”. The hashtag at the end is relevant to post and fine to include, and we avoid a “cluttered” look by separating it with a vertical line.

As for developing custom hashtags for self-promotion: These are crucial to better understanding what people are saying about your organization on social media and driving your own trends. However, the same rules above still apply – don’t overdo it, and make sure hashtags are relevant and fit cleanly into every post.

Avoid private and direct messages

The real title of this tip should probably read “be a social media user yourself,” because if you use social media, you know that direct messages are almost always spam. And regardless of how a private message is worded to a follower, it will be seen as an annoyance.

The act of opening a message box takes away from the natural flow of social media, where someone scrolls on their phone to read a variety of messages. It’s frustrating to have to have to open a box just to make an alert notification go way, especially since 90 percent of the time doing so is going to result in being subjected to spam.

This is not to be confused with an “@” message or a tagging another profile. These practices are fine. Sending someone a message of “thanks” for a follow, or including a media outlet’s Twitter handle when sharing a link to their content, is a great idea. In fact, it’s often the best way to garner more engagement. But, stay away from private messages completely. Since these can’t be shared with others on social media and are such a nuisance, there are few good arguments for sending them.

Engagement is key

Direct and private messages may be a bad idea, but engaging your followers is crucial to success. You want your organization’s profile to feel as if an actual person is behind the keyboard making the posts, and doing that can be as simple as “liking” a reply from a follower, or acknowledging when someone tags your profile by offering a quick “@(Name) Thank you.”
Honestly, little touches like this go a long way in keeping followers and encouraging people to visit your profile, click links, and engage your posts. It fuels a personal connection between followers and your social media profile, one that contains the human touch necessary to make that connection meaningful.

Your engagement level needs to match or exceed that of your profile’s followers. As mentioned previously, social media is loaded with fake accounts and spam bots (Twitter in particular).
Social media users are numb to superficial engagement, such as a tweet directed at them that contains an ad. Avoid that practice.

When you engage followers, keep promotion out of it. And most important of all, if people are directing questions, comments, and concerns towards your profile – answer them. Social media connects the world in a way that is slowly replacing phone support and written feedback.

People like when your organization responds to them, engages them, and interacts with them on a person-to-person basis. Never doubt the power of a reply or a quick acknowledgment of a message, as they could be the key to separating your organization from all of the noise on social media and building a strong presence on any platform.

HIMSS is like Christmas at Amendola

HIMSS Is Over….Now What?

At our agency we think of HIMSS as our “Christmas.” We face similar time pressures and high expectations as those in retail leading up to the holiday, but as one team member says, “HIMSS is the ‘Happiest Time of Year.”

Like the annual family gatherings, we see clients, media, analysts and industry leaders all in one place. We network with old and new colleagues, learn about new offerings and trends and much more. However, it’s not all Christmas carols and eggnog. There’s quite a bit of hard work that occurs months before HIMSS: arranging meetings, creating themes, developing strategies and plans, and then poof – it’s over. Just like Christmas, the rush of opening presents is over in a blink and before you know it, it’s time to take the tree down and do your gift returns.

It’s true, HIMSS is now over, but there is still fun to be had! As you leverage the opportunities you uncovered and follow-up on all of the activities leading up to and at the show, you’ll experience the “gifts” of secured bylined articles, analyst coverage and strengthened relationships.

And even if you still have a HIMSS hangover — and that extra Tylenol and sleep hasn’t yet kicked in – we’ve made it easy for you with the best practices listed below. Follow each step and you’ll magic those leads into tangible results!

  • Do your follow-ups from media interviews, networking events, speakers you enjoyed, potential partners, existing partners with whom you met, etc. In fact, often the best conversations come from those random instances where you bumped into someone on the exhibit hall floor or in the elevator. Never underestimate the impact of unexpected conversations and meetings at HIMSS – those are my favorites. After 20+ years of attending the conference, I love the reunion aspect of it. It’s the perfect way to re-connect with industry colleagues, clients and members of the media. Be sure to follow-up with a note on LinkedIn or an email – you never know what will happen!
  • Great information doesn’t mean actionable information. Translate what you’ve heard/learned into goals and actionable next steps. But don’t get distracted by the shiny new objects that you learned about at HIMSS. Instead, focus on what applies to your organization, your product line and the larger business/industry problems that your company’s solutions address. Don’t try to be all things to all people – it just doesn’t work. Be clear about who you are, your value proposition and unique differentiators, and most importantly, how you solve your client’s real-world problems.
  • Biggest challenge: Prioritization of all those great ideas! HIMSS is over – now don’t waste the investment. Develop a calendar of follow-up marketing initiatives to continue driving interest and momentum, along with an execution strategy. Below are some of my personal secrets to success:
    • Did you launch a new product at HIMSS? Do you have a client user or a pilot running? Did you conduct a Focus Group or survey at the show? Now is a good time to share the results. Leverage post-HIMSS press releases to continue the excitement. Be strategic and space the news out appropriately. Generally, I recommend a cadence of every other week, if news permits.
    • Continue your social media outreach using #HIMSS17 – and even add #HIMSS18 as you look toward the coming year’s trends!
    • Wondering what to do with all the contact information you collected from prospects, potential partners and investors who stopped by your booth? Implement a timely email campaign to continue the conversations and reach them at various stages of the buying funnel. I suggest disseminating a series of targeted e-blasts with a strong call-to-action such as downloading a gated white paper, infographic, ROI calculator or other value-added content.
    • Did you capture client testimonial videos at the show? Embed them into your corporate presentations, highlight them on your website and promote them via social media.
    • Did you or your clients present at HIMSS? Take that content and turn it into one or more thought leader articles, blog posts, ebooks, webinars (which can then be uploaded to SlideShare), podcasts and possibly the inspiration for a thought leadership video series. Content can usually be sliced and diced in multiple ways; leverage what you have rather than creating new materials.
  • Biggest misstep: Not tying your new/updated goals, strategies, and tactics derived from HIMSS’ insights to your organizational KPIs. Remember, if your results don’t track to the CEO’s expectations, they don’t count!

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in for my next post on healthcare IT analysts’ and key influencers’ top takeaways from HIMSS. They’ll set you on the right path for the rest of 2017! Finally, I hope you all had a Merry HIMSS – I know our A-Team did!