“Our health system has a focus on helping people live healthier lives,” Alicia said. “Our name, Avera, actually means ‘to be well.' So, it's a big part of our mission.”
The blog is managed by PR and touches numerous teams within that department — including content, social media, and digital.
Outside of PR, they also work with experts across the organization who contribute content on a regular basis.
She said this prevents the blog from becoming inundated by one specific topic or service at any given time.
Their writing team reviews each piece written by outside content experts to ensure it fits Avera's style.
“If somebody submits content that mentions a location, facility, or service and we have information about that specific location, facility, or service on Avera.org, we'll link back to it,” she said.
The blog has given Alicia and Paige's team an avenue to share patient stories in an effective way.
According to Paige, they use those stories to explain new services or health offerings to their audiences.
“One of the biggest things we do when our team members speak with our partners is to ask for patient stories,” she said. “People connect well with storytelling, and we recognize that.”
Avera Balance now also plays a key role in their social strategy.
“We're very focused on content strategy, but we want to make sure we're not putting all our eggs in one basket,” Alicia said. “Social is a great place to put our information out there and get to a larger audience. We don't publish everything, but we do take into consideration our audiences and our regions because specific articles can impact specific audiences differently.”
“It allows for visual storytelling on the different social channels and gives us a way to engage with that audience in a different manner,” Paige said.
The team also leverages evergreen content on their main Facebook pages and boosts posts to specific audiences — which has made an impact at a low cost. “We don't always have to put large marketing dollars for digital around specific blogs, but we'll take fifty or a hundred dollars and boost that to an audience,” Alicia said.
They've also started to look at how different types of content performs on their different social channels and using that information to help fine-tune their strategy.
“When we do features on people who are working on the frontlines providing patient care, they perform well organically on social because people recognize those care providers and they can talk about how wonderful that person is and how they've helped them,” Paige said.
Alicia hopes that moving forward they can continue to refine the blog content.
“Our goal is to be as strategic as possible with the content we're putting out, because our content has increased in volume substantially,” she said. “So we want to capitalize on that opportunity and continue to reach audiences where they are and whatever journey they're on.”
Alicia said the team has needed to take a collaborative approach to fine-tune aspects of the blog and social strategy.
“It's not just digital and social. It's content, video, and marketing, too. It's the whole team,” Alicia said. “Collaboration is key in creating our content strategy and utilizing it in the most strategic way possible.”
Paige emphasized the importance of a content calendar and looking for opportunities to utilize content that is already being created.
“But there are plenty of people willing to raise their hand and contribute to the blog, and that submitted content helps take some work off the marketing team,” Paige said.
The creation of a content calendar has been essential as well.
“It's an Excel sheet, and it gives a good overview about what's coming in the next few weeks, what we have scheduled, what we're working on, and who the provider that's going to be featured in the article,” Paige said.
“We're proud of the fact that content has always been something we find important,” said Alicia. “And we've taken it to the next level and haven't left it stagnant. I'm proud of the group for always looking for opportunities to refine the content and improve the audience's experience.”