Content is king when it comes to build an effective social media presence, digital health care marketing experts yesterday said at an AHA meeting briefing on use of social media.

“Social media can build an incredible amount of good will for your organization and employees can help drive content forward because they are the ones who are going to feed you the stories,” said Alex Moore, Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital’s manager of corporate marketing in Jacksonville, Fla.

He said Brooks’ messages focus on patient stories and community programs through content that strives to be relevant, well-written, loaded with images and meaningful.

Make strategic decisions with your digital efforts that strongly align with your overall marketing principles and goals, said Paul Gruensfelder, Barnabas Health’s manager of social media and digital marketing in West Orange, N.J., and Nicola Ziady, the University of Cincinnati’s associate vice president of marketing and digital communications. Social media needs to be a “defined and formal part of your business,” said Ziady.

“Don’t lose your voice,” said Gruensfelder in encouraging hospital communications and marketing officials to create consistent messages that can be delivered through traditional marketing channels and also through social media and in the digital space. He added that “patients want to be educated, entertained and engaged.”

He cited Barnabas Health’s Pink Crusade breast cancer-awareness and Doctor’s Day digital awareness campaigns as case studies for health care communications professionals seeking to expand their hospital’s brand through multiple digital platforms.

The AHA released a Hospital Leadership Guide to Digital & Social Media Engagement for members at the briefing, which was moderated by AHA board member Kris Doody, CEO of Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine. The guide is designed to provide the tools to create, manage and guide informed decisions about the use of social media, and as a blueprint for effective ways to engage online.