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How To Stay HIPAA-Compliant in a Digital World

By | March 13, 2015

Nurse_using_paper_shredder_on_confidential_recordsThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. Protected Health Information (PHI) is any information which concerns health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be linked to an individual.

Everybody in the healthcare field knows how hard it can be to create marketing content that adheres to HIPAA and doesn’t include any PHI or go against the PPACA. Using social media to share the patient experience and raise awareness for your organization while staying compliant can also be difficult. That said, here are some best practices that can help healthcare organizations provide meaningful content without breaking the rules.

Follow these guidelines for writing HIPAA-compliant content on social media and elswhere:

 1. Remove any and all patient identifiers.

The obvious things here are patient names or records, social security numbers, addresses, and photographs. However, this also applies to physical and mental health details, information about the receipt or payment for services, etc.

2. Keep it general.

When referencing particular cases, conditions or treatments, be as general as possible and do not describe any demographics or populations.

3. Use the ‘minimum necessary’ rule.

Less is more. The goal here is to make your point using a minimum amount of necessary information.

4. Seek patient consent in advance.

Small details such as location, time and narrative may actually expose a patient’s identity, so you want to eliminate any potential ambiguity about consent before you tell the story.

 Manage HIPAA-compliant patient feedback on social media:

 1. Take it offline.

Do not collaborate on medical advice or treatment over social media platforms. Take all individual conversation offline immediately.

2. Again, be general.

When responding to negative comments, be polite and do not include or request any PHI. An example response could be, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Could you please send us a private message so we can further assist you?”

3. Know when to remove posts.

Removing posts that could allow patient self-identification is OK.

HIPAA-compliant topics include:

  •  General health advice, ‘how-to’ guides, and wellness tips
  • Patient stories (with consent)
  • Promotion of wellness programs, services, and the latest achievements in patient care
  • General medical explanations
  • Statistics and general potential outcomes
  • Accepted courses of treatment
  • Resources for further information and education


Download “Search Advertising Benchmarks for Health Systems” to see how your paid search campaigns stack up to your peers.


Photo courtesy of Compliance and Safety via Wikimedia Commons.

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Consumer Brand SEO Pulse: 3.5.15

By | March 5, 2015

Welcome to the weekly Consumer Brand pulse, where we keep you updated on what’s going on in the world of SEO! Our goal is to stay on top of any new strategies and changes to make sure we are constantly using the best on-site and off-site SEO methods. Whether it’s making sure your website is mobile friendly or determining if link building is dead, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top picks of what you need to know this week:

Mobile-Friendliness Will Officially Affect Your Site’s Rankings

Last week, Google officially announced an algorithm change that would make mobile-friendliness a ranking factor starting April 21st. Google has begun to use information from indexed apps as a ranking factor for ‘signed-in users who have installed the app.’

How Google Pulls Structured Snippets from Websites’ Tables

Google Table Search pulls information tables from sites and displays it in the search results. If your site utilized tabular data, make sure you have the correct structured snippets in place in order to take advantage of this new display of information.

Google Structured Snippets

Google Now Displays Rich Answers For 19.45% Of Queries

Google’s rich answers show up at the top of the search for 19.45% of targeted queries. So, if you type a direct question into Google, there’s a chance you won’t even need to scroll to the first SERP to find your answer.Google Rich Answers

Optimizing For The Google Quick Answers Box

Although Google’s quick answer box poses a definite challenge, it’s also a huge opportunity. If a searcher can find their answer at the top of the search results, there’s no need to click on your link. However, you could also get your site’s information to show up in the answer by optimizing for it. This is especially important now that Google has started including “action-oriented” links in the answers box.

Google Quick Answers

Google Testing A Red “Slow” Label In The Search Results For Slower Sites

Google is testing a label in the search results if a website’s page speed is slow.

Google Slow Labels

15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

Although structured URLs aren’t the end all be all of SEO, they’re definitely helpful to have.

Is Link-Building Dead?

After a recent comment made by Google employee, John Mueller, implied that link building could do more harm than good, the world of SEO exploded. Basically, links to your site aren’t bad, but anything that Google determines to be a “link scheme” is no good. Marie Haynes, the founder of HIS Web Marketing, provides some great insights and interpretations.

February Social Media Updates

Facebook introduced a new mobile app which it easier to manage ads through mobile devices, Twitter launched its first official WordPress plugin, Pinterest is working on its own “Buy” button, and more.

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Rebranding the Company Name? Tips for the Digital Side

By | February 27, 2015

Companies change their names and website domains for a number of reasons, including right after a merger, completing an acquisition or just to re-launch their brand and identity. What is oftentimes overlooked, though, is how do you let the digital world know you changed your name?

Changing your legal name is usually a one-step process, albeit maybe a painful one, involving a day at your local Social Security office. But, it is the aftermath—new driver’s licenses, updated credit cards, changing bank accounts, cell phone and health insurance billing, even your email and social profiles—that causes the most chaos.

The exact same scenario plays out on the digital front when your company blasts out that presser: Your name now is changing from Widgets to Cash Craving Extraordinaire. Whoo-hoo!!! You are done. Everyone is now aware of what you’ve secretly been plotting for months. Let the money roll in.doh

But in reality… D’oh! This is just the beginning of a process that can be very painful if you have not planned for it in advance and started the ball rolling.

Here is a list of major initiatives you should have considered first:

  1. Create a New Website Domain
    • Create new URLs for your site and landing page
    • Create new tracking codes
    • Update your inbound links
    • Update your Analytics & Webmaster tools
    • Rethink your keyword focus
    • Set-up appropriate redirects
    • Make annotations in your analytics the day of the switch
  2. Refresh Your Digital Content
    • Update your logo to match your new name
    • Update this logo on all PDFs, videos, white papers, spec sheets, success stories
    • Comb through your web content and appropriately update all copy with company name. Note: This is easier if you have created a new website for the rebrand.
    • Update your content to promote and describe any potential new offerings or target audiences
  3. Update Your Paid Advertising Campaigns
    • Implement all updated URLs
    • Create campaigns for new branded keywords
    • Make updates to the content on your landing pages
    • Revise your image ads for display and remarketing initiatives
  4. Email
    • Update the server your internal/business emails are sent from
      • Update the content in all your campaigns, including nurture tracks, newsletters, and promotional emails
    • Make appropriate changes to signatures and internal links
  5. Social / Offsite Properties
    • Update your company profiles. Note: You have to petition the various social networks that host your company profile (some have a very involved process)
    • Make sure that all your employees update any reference they have from you to your corporate mark
    • Update your blog and the content in old posts
    • Manage your existing directory listings to comply with the new URL and name
    • Work with any partners to make updates to their digital content where your old company mark and domain are referenced

While this may seem very daunting, it is a fact that updating your digital presence is just as necessary as your personal identity. Plus, name recognition is a powerful tool for many companies, so a name change shouldn’t be taken lightly. The key is to prepare in advance and map out all the digital properties and assets that need to be updated before you make the switch. That will allow your process to be much more manageable and smooth.

Changing your name is just one of many reasons to update your website—read 9 signs that it’s time for a new website and find out if your site is due for a refresh.


You might also like Fathom’s essential guide to tradeshow marketing.

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Use Social Media to Show Your Customers Some Love This Valentine’s Day

By | February 13, 2015

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching and the New Year finally at a lull, what better time than now to focus on loving your customers? Now that 2015 game plans and budgets are finally behind us, February should be a time to dedicate towards slowing down and really focusing on appreciating your customers.

You can learn a lot about your business through the eyes of your customers. Utilizing social media is one way that will help you build personal relationships with them. Here are several ways in which social media can not only help you love your customers, but get them to love you back.

1. Create meaningful and lasting relationships

Interesting content is one of the top three reasons why people follow brands on social media. Generate more followers on Twitter or likes to your Facebook page by simply putting out engaging content that sparks the interests to your customers on a regular basis. Focus on creating posts or content that relates to your customers even if it may not directly reflect information about your industry, product, or service. Create posts with open ended questions that allow for conversations and engagements or find a topic that resonates with your audience. Here are a couple of examples of engaging posts that created interactions and relationships with customers.

Social Media Social Media Campaign

2. Listen to your customers

Check your comments on Facebook and your Twitter mentions. What are customers saying about your brand, product, or service? Frequently reply to their questions or feedback and stay on top of their conversations when applicable. This can help build trust and prove to your customers that are listening and care about what they say. As Bill Gates once said, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

3. Celebrate your customers

Give them the chance to share their stories on social media, and, share them back! Ultimately, we hope our customers share our content but on the contrary, if someone calls out your brand in a tweet, retweet them. If someone shares a helpful tip or interesting information that you think your followers would benefit from, share it on Facebook and mention them in the comment.

Social Media Marketing

Another good example of story sharing is Honda. Honda fans have been sharing hundreds of pictures, stories, and videos showing their love of Honda since their Facebook page was created back in 2009. In return, Honda celebrated its 1 million fan mark by showing personalized love back to its fans.

To celebrate customers even more, you can create special rewards or discounts exclusively for your followers and use hashtags to keep them interacted. These promotions can also help you build more followers.

4. Thank them

Let your customers know how important they are and how much you appreciate them. A simple post thanking them on Facebook or wishing them a good weekend on a Friday will go a long way in your customers’ eyes. Go out of your way to show your appreciation each month.

We can all get caught up in our own interests and business needs that we often don’t truly celebrate our customers. They are, in fact, the reason why we are able to drive ROI. It is important in this day and age to generate meaningful and lasting relationships with our customers. Not only will it keep them coming back and loyal to your brand, but it will also open new doors to customers.

Read on to learn more about increasing brand awareness with social media.


You might also like Fathom’s essential guide to tradeshow marketing.

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Using Social Media Analysis for a Competitive Advantage

By | January 6, 2015

social_toolsYou’re analyzing and measuring your own efforts on social media, but what about your competitors? Taking a few hours each month—or at least each quarter—to review your top two to three competitors’ social strategies can provide great insight into what your organization is doing well, where it is falling behind and any new content areas or audiences that are being overlooked.

While many brands take note of how their fans and followers compare to the competition, there is more to measure that will provide more valuable information. Remember that you don’t know how your competition acquired those fans and followers. It could be because they have amazing content, or it could be they are spending thousands each month in Facebook advertising or contests.

Below are three areas to measure when performing a competitive analysis.


Comparing engagement rates is a much more accurate way to determine how your content and social presence stacks up to the competition. If your competitor gained a ton of fans through advertising or contests and those fans aren’t really interested in the brand, their engagement rate will plummet.

Measure engagement rates for all your social networks, or at least Facebook or Twitter. Start by adding competitors’ Facebook pages to your “Pages to Watch” list on Facebook. This will allow you to easily see how often your competitors are posting and how much engagement they are receiving. For Twitter, there are several free and paid tools available to calculate engagement rate, or you can manually calculate it by taking Mentions + Retweets/Number of Followers.

If a competitor has a higher engagement rate, take a closer look to examine why. This is important for two reasons:

  1. You can discover what content the competitor is creating that is resonating with your audience.
  2. The high engagement rate could be due to a negative reason, such as complaints about service or a crisis situation.

Overall, make a point to look at your competitors’ social networks to evaluate what they are saying, how they saying it and who is engaging with what they said. This is a great way to get content ideas, as well as see what doesn’t work without having to test it out yourself.

Share of Voice

While engagement rates measure your competitors’ performance on their own networks, what about what people are saying about them (and you) elsewhere? This is where share of voice comes into play. Measure the volume of online conversation—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, blogs, forums, news, etc.—that is taking place about your organization and each of your competitors. Who has the most and why?

Again, human analysis is required here, because a competitor could be talked about the most for all the wrong reasons, so it is important to dig a little deeper to see what is driving conversations. If the conversations are positive, it’s time to identify what the competitor is doing that you aren’t, and brainstorm ways to create conversation drivers.

Target Audiences

This last area of measurement requires a bit more effort, but the payoff is worth it. To evaluate your competitors’ target audiences, take a look at the content created on their blog and social networks for the past month. Break out each post in content buckets—who is the target audience and what message are they using to reach the audience.

By identifying how your competitors are choosing to use their content, you can uncover a great deal of information about their overall marketing and advertising strategy. Which audience shows the most potential? What messages resonate with the audiences and on what channel? This information might reshape who you are targeting and how, or it may simply validate that what you are doing is working. Either way, it is likely worth the effort.

So, as you are finalizing your yearly reports, remember to add in competitive intelligence for a better-rounded look at how your organization’s social media is performing. And finally, remember to take what you learn to improve your social strategy, not copy your competitors.


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