Share this article on FacebookShare this article on TwitterShare this article on LinkedinShare this article on DeliciousShare this article on DiggShare this article on RedditShare this article on PinterestExpert Author Dean Witherspoon
The competition for your participants’ time and attention has never been greater. You’ve done the table tents, the lunch ‘n learns, and maybe even an online wellness campaign. Are you ready to take your message to the masses in a way that can capture even more eyeballs?
Start a blog — and join the millions of people and businesses who have entered the blogosphere. What began as a way to maintain an online personal journal has become a wildly popular way for the like-minded to gather, families to connect, and businesses to reach a wider audience. According to the Pew Internet Study, data from July 2008 showed that 33% of US adults read blogs regularly, while 11% read blogs daily.
What could a health promotion blog do for your population? As long as your content is crisp, fresh, and engaging — and updated regularly — readers will come back for more. Your wellness campaigns will stay in front of them, and you can drive home behavior change messages disguised as entertaining blog posts. Here’s how:
Know your audience. Design your blog with the user in mind. What topics would be most interesting and compelling for your target population based on your workplace culture and demographics? What are your top healthcare cost drivers, and how can you approach blog posts that address related behaviors?
Plan your blog presence. Some blogs are more formal and news oriented; others are more personal and chatty, while still others include a variety of posting styles. Because they’re self-published, blogs have a more direct tone to them than most print articles. Position yourself as an authoritative voice on the topics you write about, but bring the message close to home — something your readers can relate to. Make your blog the go-to place for:
Details about upcoming events
Commentary on breaking news and research findings
Perspectives and insights on healthy living
Latest wellness team standings.
Identify key bloggers. Decide whether one person will do all the writing, or if team members will take turns. Invite others to serve as guest bloggers.
Read other blogs. Head to Technorati, Bloglines, or other blog indexes to search health-oriented blogs, and take notes. What engages you? What annoys you? What distracts you? What do you like best? The insights you gain as a blog reader will be extremely valuable as you develop your own.
Keep it brief. A blog isn’t a place to post a 3-page article. Readers want snippets of useful, entertaining, or thought-provoking content — they don’t have the time or patience for much more. Link to a news item and add your own commentary to help your readers make sense of headlines related to their health and well-being.
Focus on specifics. The Huffington Post is the most-read blog today, with millions of hits every day. In their how-to book on blogging, Huffington Post editors recommend focusing on 1 nugget from a research finding, a quote, or news item. Because the nature of blogging is so immediate, you don’t need to bore your readers with the whole context or background of an issue each time you post, the way traditional media do.
Relax. The thought of putting your opinions and musings out there for the world — or at least your coworkers — may feel intimidating. But many health promoters have a wealth of wisdom to share, from personal and professional experience. Modern participants don’t want to only hear about what they should do, they need support in actually doing it. Your point of view on making sensible choices in a Thai restaurant or cultivating a more active family life may be just what they need to take the next step. Write conversationally, clearly, and concisely — as if talking with friends or family; you’ll get better with every post.
Cultivate community. Some bloggers allow readers to comment on posts and engage in conversation on a given topic — but depending on the volume of feedback, you may not have time to address each question personally. Instead, post on a hot topic you see frequently in reader questions and comments. Invite reader input (on how they’ve overcome barriers to staying active, for example) and share it in a post to inspire others to do the same.
While blogging may sound like something exclusively for Gen Y, this communication venue continues to pick up enthusiasts from all generations, genders, and cultures. It’s a unique way to reach participants with energizing, inspiring content and stimulate a healthy exchange of ideas. Consider the value that blogging could add to your health promotion efforts — and make your voice heard in the online conversation.
If you’d like to see how Health Enhancement Systems has put a ne