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April 07, 2020

Review Responses Have Returned to Google My Business

By: Kieran McQuilkin

The ability to respond to Google reviews has returned after being suspended for more than two weeks. The Binary Fountain team confirmed that businesses can once again publish review responses through their Google My Business dashboards. Google Reviews and Google Q&A stopped publishing on March 20, with responses coming to a halt shortly after. Existing Google…

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google-review-responsesThe ability to respond to Google reviews has returned after being suspended for more than two weeks. The Binary Fountain team confirmed that businesses can once again publish review responses through their Google My Business dashboards.

Google Reviews and Google Q&A stopped publishing on March 20, with responses coming to a halt shortly after. Existing Google reviews, review responses and Q&A have still been displayed, but new responses did not appear until Tuesday (April 7).

Though review responses are now live, new reviews are not yet displaying on Google My Business profiles, and it appears that Google Q&A remains suspended. We will update this article as more information arises.

The search engine had suspended the two functionalities to reduce staffers coming into their offices and focus efforts on Google Maps and local search capabilities. Google said at the time it would prioritize reviewing all edits for critical health-related businesses. Now, it is also prioritizing reviewing open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and business attributes edits for other verified businesses.

Google has changed and added several features in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These updates to Google My Business and Google Search include:

  • Adding a COVID-19 Google Post type that displays on your GMB profile for 14 days.
  • Offering a Temporarily Closed option for business listings.
  • Displaying attributes at the top of GMB profiles for service availability, such as takeout and delivery.
  • Adding coronavirus-related special announcements to rich results on Google Search.
  • Displaying new “COVID-19 info link” and “Telehealth info link” attributes on Google My Business for healthcare providers.

For more on reputation management during the coronavirus health crisis, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and read these articles:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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April 07, 2020

How to Add COVID-19 Announcements to Google Search

By: Kieran McQuilkin

To help companies and organizations publish crucial COVID-19 information for customers and communities, Google has added a coronavirus-related announcement feature to Google Search. At first, the search engine is using this information to highlight announcements in Google Search from health and government agency sites, as well as covering important updates like school closures or stay-at-home directives. Google may not immediately show announcements from other websites on search results,…

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To help companies and organizations publish crucial COVID-19 information for customers and communities, Google has added a coronavirus-related announcement feature to Google Search.

At first, the search engine is using this information to highlight announcements in Google Search from health and government agency sites, as well as covering important updates like school closures or stay-at-home directives.

Google may not immediately show announcements from other websites on search results, but it hopes to expand special announcements to include more sites eventually. Site managers in all industries can still add the markup so the search engine can better understand how to expand the feature.

What is a Google COVID-19 Announcement?

For now, the types of special announcements include facility closures, event rescheduling and new availability of medical facilities, such as testing centers. Here are some examples of special announcements, according to Google:

  • Announcement of a shelter-in-place directive
  • Closure notice (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
  • Quarantine guidelines
  • Travel restrictions
  • Notification of a new drive-through testing center
  • Announcement of an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation
  • Announcement of revised hours and shopping restrictions
  • Disease spread statistics and maps

How COVID-19 Announcements Appear in Search

When you add SpecialAnnouncement structured data to your pages, that content can appear with a COVID-19 announcement rich result, in addition to the regular snippet description. These COVID-19 announcement rich results, much like a COVID-19 Google Post, display as a short summary that can be expanded to view more. The format may change over time, Google says, and you may not see this content in the search results right away.

Here is the current format:

google-covid-19-announcement

How to Add COVID-19 Announcements on Google

To highlight these special announcements on Google Search, businesses can either add SpecialAnnouncement structured data to their webpages or submit a COVID-19 announcement in Search Console.

Google recommends the first method: adding SpecialAnnouncement structured data to your web pages. Structured data is a standardized format for providing page information and classifying the page content. It is the easiest way for the search engine to catalog this information, enables reporting through Search Console in the future, and allows you to make updates. To implement COVID-19 announcement structured data, follow the steps outlined here.

The alternative method is to submit announcements in Search Console. If you don’t have access to your site’s HTML, or implementing the structured data will take too long, you can submit the announcement in Search Console. This method is meant for short-lived announcements that will expire within a month of posting. There is currently no way to update your announcement via Search Console. Learn more here.

If you do need to submit this way, you’ll need to first be verified in Search Console. Then you can submit a COVID-19 announcement through this form:

google-covid-19-announcement-search-console

Other Ways to Optimize Google Search for COVID-19

Aside from special announcements markup, there are several ways you can highlight activities impacted by the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Use best practices for health and government sites to make coronavirus information more visible on Google Search.
  • Collect your common questions from consumers and add FAQ markup to help Google Search surface your answers.
  • Review guidance from Google My Business on how to change your business hours, indicate temporary closures or create COVID-19 posts.
  • Recommend changes to your Google Knowledge Panel, or claim it if you haven’t already.
  • For healthcare organizations, add URLs to the new “COVID-19 info link” and “Telehealth info link” attributes on Google My Business.

Keep in mind that you can once again respond to Google reviews from your GMB dashboard. Visit our COVID-19 Resources Page for more updates as they arise.

Read more about listings management during the COVID-19 crisis:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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April 06, 2020

Covid-19 Communications: How Property Managers Can Connect with Tenants

By: Kieran McQuilkin

The emergence and spread of COVID-19 makes accurate and timely tenant communications more valuable than ever. To mitigate damage to your communities and business, multifamily marketers and communications teams need accurate, consistent messaging across all digital platforms. Multifamily property managers are responsible for not only taking measures to slow the virus, but also keeping employees, residents, suppliers and tenants regularly informed. Those tenants need…

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covid-19-tenant-communicationsThe emergence and spread of COVID-19 makes accurate and timely tenant communications more valuable than ever.

To mitigate damage to your communities and business, multifamily marketers and communications teams need accurate, consistent messaging across all digital platforms. Multifamily property managers are responsible for not only taking measures to slow the virus, but also keeping employees, residents, suppliers and tenants regularly informed.

Those tenants need specific, up-to-date COVID-19 information in your communications in order to stay safe. In this article, we will offer guidelines on how property management companies can communicate with residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anticipate COVID-19 Tenant Questions on All Platforms

The most common coronavirus-related communications will concern prevention practices, changes in office policies and resident policy adjustments, such as emergency-only maintenance.

Property managers need to anticipate questions from tenants on a global and local level, in addition to communicating what precautions are being taken and reminding staff of best practices.

These should be clear on both your property and corporate websites, across social media profiles, marketing communications, rental listings and your Google My Business profiles. And remember that even while coronavirus spreads, potential tenants are going to post questions on your pages.

Your communications plan should anticipate questions in the event that COVID-19 affects your properties. It should also include a central hub of available resources for tenants and employees.

Keep Tenants Informed on Coronavirus Developments

First and foremost, property managers need to collect and properly disseminate all available contact information for your staff, residents and suppliers. Have alternative communication methods ready (website, app, text), in case contact gets disrupted.

Your tenants have a host of concerns, so sending reminders via email and text message can help ensure that scheduled appointments and rent payments are under control. When the time is right, use a carefully crafted resident survey to understand their needs and how to better manage your coronavirus response.

With so many people working from home, you might need to remind residents who are acclimating to home life community guidelines like parking, smoking and trash pickup policies. However, a majority of your COVID-19 tenant communications should focus on the coronavirus at this time.

If Someone Gets Sick

As the virus spreads, your buildings become more likely to have a positive test. Implement a plan for notifications of tenant or staff diagnosis with COVID-19 and prepare notices to relevant third parties.

If tenants or staff members are diagnosed with COVID-19, your obligation to notify tenants will vary according to lease terms, public health mandates, state regulations and industry standards. If your notify a full building about tenants testing positive for the virus, consider applicable privacy laws and regulations. Your notification shouldn’t disclose the individual’s name, apartment number or other identifying characteristics, and it’s wise to consult your legal team before publishing.

Rent Payments

Your online services are a keystone of keeping up with rent payments as the world reacts to the coronavirus.

Drive residents to web-based services, apps and portals. Avoid handling checks by encouraging electronic payments, which might include resending instructions on establish accounts and setting up online payments.

But apartment owners and operators are facing the reality that many residents won’t be able to make their rent payments – through no fault of their own. Your tenant communications plan should include instructions on residents with economic hardships contacting you to discuss options.

The National Multifamily Housing Council recommends that firms remind residents that there generally aren’t fees to pay by bank transfer. Offer tenants a clear line of communication for addressing financial new hardships – financial or otherwise – that can make expenses difficult to cover.

covid-19-healthcare-marketingPost COVID-19 Prevention Announcements

Small pieces of communication, like email announcements about the steps you’re taking to combat COVID-19, go a long way to encourage resident safety. And preventative information – even seemingly obvious ones – should populate your website, listings and social feeds.

Most multifamily communities are being advised to practice some level of social distancing, increased handwashing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces. In many states, apartment and condo communities are now subject to “shelter-in-place” orders requiring individuals to self-isolate in their residences except for certain essential travel and other functions.

The National Apartment Association encourages property managers to post CDC resources in public areas. Relevant information includes:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.

If you have the bandwidth as a marketer or communications specialist, you can also consider publishing COVID-19-related tenant communications for those looking for homeschooling, food options or rent assistance.

Updates for Potential Tenant Communications

No matter what changes you’ve made due to COVID-19, make sure your tenants and potential tenants are well aware of the situation. Update leasing office hours, contact information, maintenance availability and other changes across your website and listings. If you are still looking for tenants, make that apparent.

For prospects, make it clear if tours are available by appointment only. Even better, now is the time to use digital tools to virtually hold appointments and tour units. While your marketing shouldn’t freeze in its tracks, be sure to review any automated ads and marketing messages to ensure the content is appropriate in the current conditions.

Visit our COVID-19 Resources Page or read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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April 02, 2020

COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Freeze, Pivot or Push Forward? [Webinar Recap]

By: Kieran McQuilkin

As COVID-19 spreads, healthcare marketing departments need to use local expertise and digital resources to inform communities, update listings and manage the ongoing crisis. How should your healthcare marketing strategy change in response to new business priorities and shifts in consumer behavior? We brought together Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success, and…

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covid-19-healthcare-marketingAs COVID-19 spreads, healthcare marketing departments need to use local expertise and digital resources to inform communities, update listings and manage the ongoing crisis. How should your healthcare marketing strategy change in response to new business priorities and shifts in consumer behavior?

We brought together Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success, and Binary Fountain’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Aaron Clifford, to lay out the options.

In our latest webinar, they discuss specific ways healthcare organizations can alter their digital marketing efforts and engage customers online throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Here are some of the topics they covered:

  • Understanding shifts in patient/consumer behavior due to COVID-19
  • How to adjust brand communications in light of the health crisis
  • Changing digital marketing and listings management strategies to respond to the spread of coronavirus
  • Key COVID-19-related updates to make for local listings and social media profiles

Here are some key takeaways:

Consumer Behavior Shifts Due to Coronavirus

Global consumer behavior is changing in response to COVID-19, with up to 70% of people delaying major purchases until the outbreak ends. Meanwhile, 67% are watching more news coverage, 48% are watching more broadcast and streaming TV, and 45% are spending more time on social media.

With that in mind, healthcare marketers should not freeze marketing during this crisis. You should, however, be mindful of tone-deaf messaging across all platforms, and consider moving advertising dollars to streaming services and other digital media.

Adjusting Brand Messaging to Fit the Times

With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, it’s important to acknowledge the current situation wherever possible. Beyond that, be careful with text and images that could be perceived as insensitive or out of touch, like large crowds or handshakes.

With that said, 86% of consumers trust local healthcare experts for coronavirus-related information, so healthcare organizations should use that trust to spread the right message about prevention, explain treatment options, define your own safety precautions and answer frequently asked questions.

Consider building your brand for the long term by educating the public and cementing your position as a trusted information source for your community. If appropriate, you can also consider highlighting your staff and frontline providers who are working tirelessly to combat the pandemic.

Plan Your Content Accordingly

Don’t underestimate the power of social media and its influencers – even Kylie Jenner has made a significant impact on convincing the public to take precautions.

Twitter is by far and wide the most popular platform in terms of coronavirus-related brand mentions, followed by Facebook and Instagram. Make sure you publish timely, accurate content across your profiles on the top platforms, and use a consistent message across all communications. Now might be a good time for your marketing department to experiment with new content and ad types, like webinars, short videos, Facebook Live or Messenger Ads.

Stay Up to Date on Listings

Accurate listings for hours, locations and contact information are more important than ever, so updating that data on each directory and social media site is key. In fact, Binary Fountain is seeing reports of 50-60% increases in call volume through Google My Business.

Though Google temporarily suspended Reviews and Q&A, you can now create COVID-19 Google Posts that will display prominently on your Google My Business profile for 14 days. You can also now add COVID-19-specific alerts to the top of your Yelp business profile, and schema.org has created new coronavirus-specific schema types that will help search engines discover your content. Though it’s important to monitor all your listings for reviews, resources are scarce – prioritize responding to just the reviews that will give other searchers valuable information.

For more insights and advice, click here to watch the on-demand webinar.

For more on reputation management during the coronavirus health crisis, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and read these articles:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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April 01, 2020

Survey: Local Healthcare Experts Are Most Trusted Coronavirus Information Sources

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Even in the best of times, hospitals and health systems are community leaders. During this public health crisis brought on by the coronavirus, communities need them even more. To support frontline medical workers, healthcare marketing and communication teams need to provide expert information, tools and resources to keep patients and communities connected, informed and healthy….

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Even in the best of times, hospitals and health systems are community leaders. During this public health crisis brought on by the coronavirus, communities need them even more.

To support frontline medical workers, healthcare marketing and communication teams need to provide expert information, tools and resources to keep patients and communities connected, informed and healthy.

ReviveHealth has published a new survey that offers data on what consumers expect from health systems right now and where they’re looking for information.

Here are some of the key statistics:

coronavirus-consumer-survey-concern
Credit: ReviveHealth, “Consumer Survey Findings – COVID-19”

In this vulnerable situation, healthcare communicators can guide their efforts based on public concern levels. People are concerned about many threats, even beyond preventative measures and treatment.

The survey reports that physical health of families is the top concern, followed by access to food, access to health services, personal finances and employment, being infected and mental health.

While many consumers might be inundated with information, over half of survey respondents want to hear from their local hospital daily.

National and worldwide coronavirus information sources are useful to consumers, but people are more focused on how the spread of the disease affects their community at the local level. With no shortage of experts and experience, health systems are uniquely positioned to speak to local concerns as they arise.

Local healthcare experts are trusted by 86% of respondents, according to the survey, making them the most trustworthy coronavirus information sources. They are followed by national healthcare experts, local government agencies and news organizations.

Even with that trust in healthcare providers, most consumers don’t have sufficient information on how to get tested. About 65% of those surveyed said they don’t have enough or any information on the COVID-19 testing process, while 30% know where to go.

Testing availability is one of many pieces of information consumers want to receive from local hospitals and health systems related to the coronavirus. Two-thirds are looking for community updates on the disease, and more than half are looking for information about accessing health services aside from testing.

coronavirus-consumer-survey-hospital
Credit: ReviveHealth, “Consumer Survey Findings – COVID-19”

As far as facility-free treatment options, there’s a long way to go before all consumers consider telemedicine an option, the survey reports. Nearly half of respondents hadn’t ever heard of telemedicine; however, the majority of consumers said they are interested or willing to try.

So, what does it all mean?

In times like these, healthcare marketers are responsible for meeting the consumer need for information in a unique and scalable way.

We hope these statistics help to guide your strategy through this increasingly difficult situation. Here are some of our key takeaways:

  • Access to food and access to health services concern people nearly as much as the physical health of their families. Publish information and other content that includes concerns beyond just symptoms, testing and treatment.
  • Don’t assume that consumers know how to get tested for COVID-19: About two-thirds say they don’t have enough information.
  • Use your authority as trusted healthcare experts to control the narrative about your brand, inform the public about coronavirus at large and in your local communities, and fight misinformation.

The COVID-19 Consumer Survey by ReviveHealth included 700 respondents across the U.S. who are 25 years and older, with a margin of error of 4%.

 

Note: View our on-demand webinar for insights on the online conversation surrounding COVID-19 and how healthcare organizations can respond.

Read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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March 30, 2020

COVID-19: Updates to Local Listings and Reviews on Google, Yelp

By: Kieran McQuilkin

As COVID-19 continues to cause disruptions in business, it’s more essential than ever to keep your community informed with local listings that reflect current service suspensions, closures and updates to day-to-day operations. Search engines and online directories are struggling alongside brick-and-mortar businesses to manage the influx of changes to facility locations, hours, appointment availability and…

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covid-19-listingsAs COVID-19 continues to cause disruptions in business, it’s more essential than ever to keep your community informed with local listings that reflect current service suspensions, closures and updates to day-to-day operations.

Search engines and online directories are struggling alongside brick-and-mortar businesses to manage the influx of changes to facility locations, hours, appointment availability and more. To help you stay up-to-date in local search, we compiled recent updates to local listings and third-party directories that you should monitor.

In this article, we’ll cover recent coronavirus-related updates to local listings, including:

  • Google My Business suspensions of local reviews and Q&A
  • Yelp updating review guidelines for COVID-19 mentions
  • A new COVID-19 Google Post type
  • A new GMB “temporarily closed” feature
  • Delays in listings updates for non-healthcare businesses

Can businesses still receive and reply to reviews? Is Google Q&A Down?

Google temporarily suspended accepting and posting new reviews, along with posting responses, due to limitations in staff. Additionally, new questions and answers on Google Q&A will not be accepted at this time.

“New reviews, review replies, and all Q&A will be unavailable during this time. Thank you for your patience. We will provide further updates as they become available,” Google states in a recent help document.

Does Yelp still allow reviews and review responses?

Yelp is still allowing for reviews and responses, for now, and took the extra step of protecting local businesses by only allowing trusted content. Yelp recently announced, “We have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.” It’s taking steps to identify and remove those types of reviews, according to the company.

Yelp also added a COVID-19 Advisory Alert banner to the top of all Yelp Business Pages, where you can share a custom message with specific updates during this pandemic. This can be used to offer services by phone or text, provide takeout and delivery updates, disclose changed hours and other updates.

Is there a timeline for when reviews and Q&A will be available again?

As of publishing this post (March 30), we are not aware of a timeline for when Google Reviews or Google Q&A will be available again. Google has not publicly shared their full plan for local review availability and the impact of COVID-19 on listings. We will continue to monitor relevant updates until these two features become available again.

What are COVID-19 Google Posts?

Businesses can now publish COVID-19 Google Posts for any important information regarding their services or other updates. COVID-19 Posts will appear more prominently on your business page, allowing customers to easily understand the current status of your business and your operations during this time.

covid-19-google-post-display
Example of a COVID-19 Google Post.

Is a COVID-19 Google Post different from a regular Google Post?

COVID-19 Google Posts allow for only a description and a URL to be shared – no images – which make it a quick purely informational method for your business to keep consumers informed. These post types will be available for 14 days starting March 25, but Google says it may extend that timeline.

Can you explain the recent update for chains related to COVID-19 Posts?

Google recently announced, “Posts related to COVID-19 are now temporarily permitted for chains.” This lifts the previous 10-location limit, so enterprise businesses and multi-location brands now can more easily push coronavirus-related updates across all their locations.

Should we mark our business as temporarily closed on GMB?

Google introduced a new option in GMB to mark a location temporarily closed; however, enterprise brands generally should not use this functionality unless the location will be closed longer than two-four weeks. Marking a business as temporarily closed is a manual, time-intensive process, so you can alternatively consider leveraging special hours on GMB. Using special hours, you can submit your updated hours via bulk API for faster, easier publishing.

Can we update our business name in GMB to add special services?

Google has slightly relaxed their guidelines for COVID-19-related listings, temporarily allowing for small edits to your business name where it’s applicable. Many businesses are adding unique services after their business names and descriptions, such as virtual visits, appointments only, drive-thru or curbside pickup. According to the search engine, businesses will need to revert back to their standard names after the COVID-19 crisis.

Why are we experiencing publishing delays?

Google is operating with reduced support staff, which has led to delays in posting new listings, special hours, open/close status, descriptions and attributes. However, the company says it is prioritizing listing updates deemed critical for health-related businesses. For now, you can add special service availabilities or operational changes by adding them to your business name, description and services/amenities.

Read more on managing your online presence during the COVID-19 crisis:

For a full list of Binary Fountain resources related to the coronavirus, click here.

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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March 27, 2020

Podcast: COVID-19 Updates to Google and Yelp Listings

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Healthcare marketers are seeing several updates to online listings like Google and Yelp in response to the spread of COVID-19. To prepare for the fast changes ahead, Aaron Clifford, Vice President of Marketing at Binary Fountain, joined Reed Smith, Vice President of Digital Strategy at Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, to talk about updates to those and…

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Aaron Clifford
Aaron Clifford

Healthcare marketers are seeing several updates to online listings like Google and Yelp in response to the spread of COVID-19.

To prepare for the fast changes ahead, Aaron Clifford, Vice President of Marketing at Binary Fountain, joined Reed Smith, Vice President of Digital Strategy at Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, to talk about updates to those and other platforms, and how can you optimize your listings during this unique time.

In a new podcast episode from Touch Point Media, Clifford and Smith discuss the opportunity to use Google Posts and other communication tools to update consumers on policies and processes, along with the most important pieces of online listings to monitor and update.

They talk about how Google has temporarily suspended its local reviews and Q&A features due to the influx of reviews – especially coronavirus-related reviews – and nationwide staff shortages. At the same time, Google has prioritized listings updates for critical health-related businesses, added a COVID-19 Google Post type, and added a “temporarily closed” listings feature.

Meanwhile, Yelp implemented new approaches to reviews related to coronavirus in order to protect companies from reputational harm, including the removal of claims about contracting the disease from a business or its employees.

Listen to the podcast here.

Read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:

For a full list of Binary Fountain resources related to the coronavirus, click here.

 

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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March 27, 2020

The Complete Guide to Content Marketing in Healthcare

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Just two decades ago, when people had a sore throat or a lump on their body, they visited the doctor, got a diagnosis, got some medicine and went on their way. Today, the internet is the first stop for patients seeking medical information. Though many people still visit their doctor for help, most people don’t think twice…

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content-marketing-healthcare

Just two decades ago, when people had a sore throat or a lump on their body, they visited the doctor, got a diagnosis, got some medicine and went on their way.

Today, the internet is the first stop for patients seeking medical information. Though many people still visit their doctor for help, most people don’t think twice before Googling their symptoms and finding causes.

While it’s great to see people interested in their health, the internet has raised two problems:

  • Sometimes search results replace a doctor’s advice with questionable medical advice websites
  • Some of the medical advice out there is totally inaccurate

That’s disappointing, as people shouldn’t publish false medical advice. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for you to set your healthcare practice apart through content marketing. Unlike many of these questionable websites, you are medical experts, and you can use your expertise to help people and influence them in a positive way.

Today, we dive into what content marketing is in healthcare, explain how you can create a content strategy for your practice, and answer frequently asked questions about content marketing.

  • What is content marketing?
  • What’s the purpose of content marketing in healthcare?
  • Does healthcare content need to be HIPAA compliant?
  • How can you create a content marketing strategy for healthcare?

What is content marketing in healthcare?

Simply put, content marketing for healthcare is the creation of educational materials that help patients understand their health or medical problems. Everything from a blog article about cardiology to a social media post about skin cancer to a video about a lung procedure can be a part of content marketing.

What’s the purpose of content marketing?

Content marketing is a long-term content strategy, and when done well, establishes your practice as an authority in the space. Google prefers sites with rich, unique content and ultimately wants to see that you are taking the time to invest in showing why you are a subject matter expert.

Through this content, you are also able to create a strong bond with your readers – so strong that they choose you as their healthcare provider.

Does Healthcare Content Need to Be HIPAA Compliant?

Yes, you want your content to be compliant with HIPAA guidelines, especially if you plan on using customer stories. If you break HIPAA compliance, you may get fined or lose your license.

You can still create excellent content that’s HIPAA compliant. In fact, these guidelines were created to fend off bad content. Follow these three steps and your content will be HIPAA compliant:

1. Respect your patient

Don’t share protected health information (PHI) about patients, even if you have their consent.

2. Advise but don’t diagnose

Never diagnose or promise to treat an illness. You can talk about symptoms and treatment, but you should never make it sound like the content is a stand-in for you, the healthcare provider. Always recommend the reader should schedule an appointment at your practice.

3. Source information correctly

Be aware that everything you write will carry the weight of a medical expert. So be clear about what expert sources you are referencing.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Healthcare

Now that we have definitions and compliance out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff—creating your content marketing strategy. Depending on your expertise and the size of your organization, your strategy will vary, but these seven guidelines are applicable to any content marketing strategy.

1. Focus on your expertise

You don’t need to write about every topic in the healthcare industry. In fact, you will gain authority faster if you constantly speak on one topic, whether it’s cardiology or child psychology.

Be as specific as you can. For example, you may be an ophthalmologist but if you know eye diseases better than anyone else, then write about eyelid twitching or cataracts. The more you establish yourself as an expert on a specific topic, the more you’ll stand out.

Since you are the expert, be sure to stay up-to-date with medical news, especially new studies and breakthroughs in your field. When something big happens within the scope of your business, you want to be the first to report it to your audience. Nothing establishes your authority more than simplifying complicated medical articles and jargon-filled reports.

2. Understand your target audience

Imagine the patients you’ve helped (or want to help). What age group are they? What problems do they have? Why did they choose you over another similar provider?

The answers to these questions point to your target audience. 

Your target audience is not the “general public.” Your target audience is a specific group who have symptoms and problems that you can solve. When it comes to content strategy, your goal is to connect to the heart of this audience.

To connect to the heart, learn everything about your audience. Talk with your patients and empathize with their pains. What are their biggest concerns? What keeps them up at night? Then, create content that gives them peace of mind.

You can even ask them what content they prefer. Does reading help them understand their symptoms or watching videos? Do they like content that’s simple or do they want to go more in-depth, with stats and graphs?

Speaking directly to your patients’ problems in a language they understand is the best way to lift your content strategy off the ground.

3. Figure out what kinds of content you’ll create

Once you identify your target audience, it’s time to create content that will reach them. Again, your audience should determine what kinds of content you create. But, in general, most patients will consume the following three.

  • Blog Articles: Yes, there is still demand for articles on healthcare and medicine. But if you’re going to write a blog article, make sure it focuses on one idea (or answers one question). Sure, your area of expertise is massive, and it may be tempting to stuff everything you know into a couple articles. This usually results in scattered or unfocused writing. Tighten up your articles with one idea, and you’ll keep readers engaged with consistent, consumable content.
  • Videos: Even if you’re not a great videographer, you can tell a compelling story with video content. Think deeply about what your video could be: Don’t be the healthcare provider who puts out another boring, monotonous video. Show us your doctors, your patients, your clerks. Tell us success stories and recoveries. Explain something complicated in a simple and engaging way.
  • Social Media: The point of content marketing is to establish trust between you and potential patients. What better way to do that than to connect with them on social media? Not only will this make your patients feel secure, knowing they can reach out to you with questions, but it also allows them to connect with you on a deeper level. They can see you’re more than a healthcare provider: you’re human. And it’s that shared sense of humanity that makes your practice more welcoming.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just these three, especially if your patients prefer multiple forms of content. Here’s a quick list of other pieces of content you could create.

  • transparency-ebookE-books
  • Email sequences
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Testimonials
  • Quizzes or symptom assessments
  • Newsletters
  • FAQs
  • Case studies
  • Trend analyses
  • Webinars

4. Create Content That is Simple

This is where you can really stand out. Many healthcare organizations write content like, well, a healthcare provider. In other words, they use stuffy, high-brow medical language that fails to connect emotionally with their patients.

When readers can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they’ll find someone who can explain it better.

So, how can you write simply? We recommend using shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences and shorter words. You should always be reviewing your content from the perspective of a non-expert, which helps you see how accessible your content is. Here are some questions to help you step outside your perspective:

  • Have I clearly explained my main points?
  • Am I expecting the reader to know more than they do?
  • Do I use language that most people understand clearly?
  • Have I answered the question or addressed the problem for which the reader came?

5. Avoid self-promotion

Content marketing is not advertising. Mentioning your practice or services over and over will not create trust with your potential patients, nor will it be engaging. Always uphold the golden rule of content marketing: It’s never about you; it’s always about your reader.

As you write your content, ask yourself: what will the reader take away from this? How will it be beneficial for them? Am I being salesy or pushy?

CTAs to book an appointment and call the office are fine, but make sure you aren’t spamming those important asks.

6. Stay Organized with a Content Calendar

When you write a blog article that helps someone, make a video that gives someone peace of mind, or teach someone about a medical condition over a free webinar, you become an influence in their lives. But this influence won’t happen overnight: You must spend months, sometimes years, building it.

This is where most healthcare companies fall off the map. That’s good news for you, because it means you can beat competing healthcare providers simply by continuing to post content.

Most marketing departments post infrequently not because they’re lazy, but because they haven’t created a content calendar, or a schedule of what they’ll publish and when they’ll publish it.

A content calendar helps you find a rhythm that works. You don’t have to post content every day, nor do you have to post every week. You just need to find that sweetspot between what you have time to create and what your audience has time to consume.

7. Learn from your mistakes

Lastly, once you’ve published content and have an audience who loves what you’re creating, don’t neglect reflection. Always ask yourself: What’s working? What’s not working? Are we overlooking any of our patient’s problems?

A great way to keep your content marketing strategy from drying up is to give your patients a chance to leave you a review, which, in turn, gives you a chance to respond. People love when you listen to their feedback, and you’ll gain more trust as you interact with your audience.

Reputation Management Doesn’t Have to be Hard

Now that you know how to use content marketing to grow your practice, it’s time to take a look at the big picture: reputation management. You can’t post articles and monitor reviews on your social media accounts, your blog, your website and other sites and still run your practice.

The good news is that you don’t have to.

At Binary Fountain, we’ve created reputation management software that makes it easy for you to monitor and respond to reviews across all your social media platforms and website listings. You can demo our reputation management software for free here.

Read more about best practices for healthcare marketing:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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March 26, 2020

Webinar Recap: Tracking the COVID-19​ Conversation Online

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Is the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. impacting your healthcare organization’s online reputation? As a consumer feedback platform, we know questions are coming quickly and from many directions. Healthcare marketers are scrambling to organize and respond to comments from patients and community members about the disease; and the need for timely, accurate information is at…

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binary-fountain-coronavirus-webinarIs the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. impacting your healthcare organization’s online reputation?

As a consumer feedback platform, we know questions are coming quickly and from many directions. Healthcare marketers are scrambling to organize and respond to comments from patients and community members about the disease; and the need for timely, accurate information is at an all-time high.

To break down the online conversation about coronavirus and how best to optimize your listings and review response strategy, we brought together Binary Fountain’s Solutions Engineer, Shruti Mehta and Senior Account Director, Bridget Cardell.

In our latest webinar, they discussed our findings about the online conversation surrounding COVID-19 and answered questions about managing healthcare brand reputations during this fast-moving health crisis.

Here are some of the topics they covered:

  • The volume of online reviews and brand mentions related to COVID-19, and which platforms consumers are using for information.
  • What patients, consumers, and caregivers are saying online and how healthcare organizations can respond.
  • Managing third-party listings, local pages and reputation management programs to navigate this health crisis.

Here are some key takeaways:

Where are consumers receiving information and posting about COVID-19?

People are directly contacting healthcare providers frequently for information, but they’re doing so less often than checking online sources. Healthcare organizations should anticipate those questions and post answers on local landing pages, social media profiles and other online directories.

Usage of Google My Business is way up worldwide, leading to delays for posting new listings, hours and address updates. However, GMB added a COVID-19 Google Post type that will display prominently on your profile.

Some platforms are adding features and changing policies during the crisis, including Google and Yelp. Google temporarily disabled local reviews and Google Q&A, and Yelp is reviewing comments to protect businesses from reputational harm related to COVID-19.

The online conversation about coronavirus

The major coronavirus-related concerns mentioned online are physical health of family, access to food, access to health services, personal finances and employment. Further down the list, but still important to look out for, are mental/emotional health of family, following containment guidelines and physical/mental health unrelated to the disease.

Twitter is (by far and away) the most-used platform for coronavirus comments related to brands, according to Binary Fountain’s platform data. Following that in popularity are Facebook and Yelp. First-party healthcare organization surveys make up less than 1% of COVID-19 mentions tracked by our platform. About 50% of people are looking at social media several times a day, and close to 75% are looking daily, according to a recent ReviveHealth survey.

With that in mind, marketers and patient experience professionals should focus on disseminating information through multiple platforms, not just Google. Make sure your healthcare organization has a consistent, prominent message across its local landing pages, Facebook posts, tweets and third-party directories, because that’s where most consumers are getting information.

Adjusting your marketing strategy and responding to reviews

You can use social media, website landing pages, and Google Posts to engage consumers in short, frequent communications; and also to humanize your business operations. Include recent announcements and relevant information, such as local testing availability and links to CDC and WHO information about coronavirus.

Be prepared to respond to negative reviews or comments, and stay consistent with your messaging across all social media platforms. With the temporary shutdown of Google Q&A and Google Reviews, marketers should focus first on requesting and responding to reviews on other third-party sites like Healthgrades and Facebook.

In industries like healthcare, where you can’t respond to some reviews online without breaching patient confidentiality, create a strategy to take the conversation offline. You may also need to prioritize your review responses based on informational value. If you don’t have the bandwidth to respond to every comment, mention or review, prioritize responses that will offer concrete, helpful information to consumers.

Managing your listings and leveraging Google My Business for COVID-19 information

If you need to close locations, temporarily suspend specific services or make other changes, you should update your facilities’ listings data as soon as possible. This includes hours of operation, services (like coronavirus testing), contact information for different departments and services, and editing your business description to include COVID-19-related capabilities.

For healthcare organizations, make sure to update your physician profile pages and website landing pages to make sure searchers are aware of your providers’ specialties, services and hours. The best way to control the narrative and inform your community is to anticipate questions and post the answers across your online presence.

For more insights and advice, click here to watch the on-demand webinar.

For more on reputation management during the coronavirus health crisis, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and read these articles:

 

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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March 25, 2020

How to Add a COVID-19 Google Post to Your Google My Business Listing

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Google is now making it easier for businesses to publish coronavirus-specific information on their listings by adding a COVID-19 Google Post option. The posts, made available on Wednesday, March 25, will appear more prominently on your business page, allowing customers to more easily understand the current status of your business and how you operate during…

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Google is now making it easier for businesses to publish coronavirus-specific information on their listings by adding a COVID-19 Google Post option.

The posts, made available on Wednesday, March 25, will appear more prominently on your business page, allowing customers to more easily understand the current status of your business and how you operate during this time.

When published, COVID-19 Google Posts will immediately appear on the post carousel and “Updates” tab on Google My Business profiles. Here is an example of how the posts are displayed:

covid-19-google-post-display

The COVID-19 post type will be available for 14 days, according to Google, however that timeline is subject to change based on the ongoing status of the virus and its effect on companies. It appears that these posts are available for all listings – even those that were recently verified in 2020.

How to Create a COVID-19 Google Post

To create a COVID-19 Google Post, click “Create Post” in your GMB dashboard, then click the “COVID-19 update” tab near the top of the panel. The panel will look like this:

covid-19-google-post

From there, you can write your update in the text box and (optionally) add a CTA button.

Be sure to preview your post, and then click publish to add it to the top of your Google Posts panel. Users can now see a preview of your message on your Google listing, and can click to reveal the full post.

As of now, these posts are meant to be highly informational and do not allow for images, but Google says it is monitoring support for additional use cases.

The search engine says it is still working to make coronavirus content appear in an even more relevant way to consumers. We will update this article as more details arise concerning these special post types, and will update our COVID-19 Resources page with other Google- and SEO-related developments.

Read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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