spring / 2014

The magazine of branded content

RX: Content

The academic medical center Cleveland Clinic has gone to great pains to show the industry that five posts a day keep the competition at bay.
Apr 7, 2014


Amanda Todorovich is Cleveland Clinic’s manager of digital engagement

They didn't call it the October Surprise, more like a Halloween Thriller.

In April 2012, Cleveland Clinic's Health Hub, an online newsroom style operation, began publishing consumer-facing wellness content and feeding it through various social channels. By late October 2013, HealthHub was tracking to reach one million monthly visitors, the Golden Chalice of online engagement in the healthcare space. As manager of digital engagement, Amanda Todorovich treated the run-up to October 31 like a war room. (Spoiler Alert: They did it!)

Amanda spoke to us about breaking the one million visits mark, aiming for two million, and the content and social strategy that has no peer in the academic medical center vertical.

On the evolution of Cleveland Clinic's Health Hub...

Amanda Todorovich: Before HealthHub, we were doing a lot of different content—newsletters, print publications and a lot of different content pieces. The vision, in April 2012, was to take that content and create a home for it, a hub, and really leverage the online platform and linking and connecting, drawing consumers in, becoming useful and helpful. So, while we did start with re-purposing existing things that we created for other platforms, today almost every single piece of content we do is from scratch, with our existing audience in mind.

"To illustrate something or physically be somewhere and show environment, with this great stuff happening all over this institution, when we can capture that in a video it serves our audience very well.”

Content strategy on three to five posts per day

We don’t really talk too much about Cleveland Clinic services. Rather, our strategy is to think more about a potential patient’s point of view and give them useful health information served up from our experts. The mix of content is a combination of wellness, prevention, clinical and health innovation that we have going on every day. Our real goal is to become a part of our audience's everyday life, to help them make healthy decisions.

We do have a lineup but there are a lot of things that factor in to that. We're aware of the latest awareness month, or things that are hitting the news. It's also about seasons and what various health issues effect people at different times of the year. We’re creating a lot of evergreen content that we can sprinkle in when we need to, and leaving holes in the calendar to respond to things in the moment.

Their target audience

Women are definitely our target audience, thirty-five to forty-five. They are the chief medical officers of their families, looking after not only themselves, but their children, their aging parents, their spouse. They're making the doctor’s appointments and picking up the prescriptions, making the decisions at the drugstore, what to feed their families. All of those things factor into their overall family's health, and we tend to provide information that helps them make decisions around all of that.

Getting doctors and administrators to post consistently

We have over forty expert bloggers who contribute to the blog at least once a month. The interest level is pretty significant across the board. A lot of experts we use understand the value to consumers and are on board, so getting them involved is definitely not a challenge.

“It helps that the content we have on HealthHub doesn't talk too much about our Cleveland Clinic services, and can truly be viewed from a news lens.”

On content driving social strategy

The content we create for HealthHub really is at the heart and soul of our social media strategy. So, for the most part, everything we’re posting on Facebook (840,000 followers) is driving back to Health Hub; with Pinterest (3,400 followers), the infographics we're also linking back to HeathHub content. With Instagram (1,400 follows) we create some really amazing and innovative photography and video, as well as our archives.

Content doesn't always have to “work”

With content that surrounds any kind of medical condition, the more specific you get, you might not get the broadest of appeal. But it is so important to us to do those stories because we want our audience to know that we're addressing the issues that matter to them. Some posts we do because it is important to a smaller community.

One sure-fire way to grow audience

Content syndication is definitely a part of our recent strategy. We have a partnership with Yahoo Health, and we have some additional partnerships as well, and are looking for more. It helps that the content we have doesn't talk too much about our Cleveland Clinic services, and can truly be viewed from a news lens.

Why Facebook wins

In the grand scheme, Facebook rules our world. It is the number one driver of traffic to Health Hub. We’ve grown our audience really significantly over the last year, and it’s definitely building brand awareness. We've done that in part with advertising and promoted posts, but for the most part it's producing great content, surveying our fans, and asking them what they want and making sure we're giving it to them in the way they want to get it. When you think about the sheer volume of users on Facebook, and align that with the demographics of our target audience—we’re typically gearing our content for women aged forty-plus—it's the perfect intersection.

Twitter (203,000 followers) is definitely a close second, though. I don’t want to discredit it at all because it is an important tool in our arsenal.

“Women are definitely our target audience, thirty-five to forty-five. They are the chief medical officers of their families.”

On reaching the 1 million visits/month goal

When I started back in February of 2013 we were at 275,000 visits a month. For the most part it's been an upward curve. One million had been the goal, and we knew we had a chance to reach it with about a week to go in October 2013. So we took a look at everything we had in the toolbox: we looked at our publishing calendar, what posts were in production, and served up posts that we knew would resonate well. We look all the time and see what topics we post that generate a lot of clicks on Facebook or Pinterest, and threw everything we had in that last week to make sure we pushed ourselves over the edge. We had record traffic days that whole week, and made it on the last day. I was excited for my team and for Cleveland Clinic to achieve that. We’ve worked really hard to build a great platform, and I was just ecstatic and over the moon that we surpassed that goal.

Examples of clickable posts

There are a few: Anything we do on sleep does well, everybody's always looking for ways to get more sleep. Anything we do on thyroid issues, or stress. Among the most trafficked things we ever do is foodstuff and things that will help you feel better. We've done content on constipation that's done very well. Tips for healthy grocery shopping, recipes for the weekend; infographics are super useful, like our Heart Healthy Oils, that always does well.

And it's not just about what to post on HealthHub—it's what content should we post on Facebook, what content should we get on Twitter. And it’s not always the new stuff. With Facebook, we post six times a day, and we bring back the stuff that we know our audience is engaging with.

On growing patient volume through digital

ROI is always a consideration. Our number one objective is to drive brand awareness and affinity. And as far as a revenue enhancement, we build tracking into everything we do, but we don’t go around touting those numbers, but it's a significant contribution and absolutely it's worth it to us.

In six months, the goals for HealthHub

Just to keep growing, to keep reaching people, to keep providing this great content that’s so helpful and useful that allows them to make smart and healthy decisions.

(Ed. Note – as of presstime, HealthHub had reached 2 million uniques a month)

Apr 7, 2014


Amanda Todorovich is Cleveland Clinic’s manager of digital engagement