In 2014, I had just started lurking around the platform Quora, and I quickly noticed this one guy's writing was dominating every topic I searched. He told stories about working at failed startups, selling cars, and ultimately figuring out how to climb his own ladder of "success." His answers racked up hundreds of thousands of views, and I thought, "If he can do it, why can't I?"

The person I'm speaking about is my fellow Inc.com columnist  Leonard Kim. He works full-time at University of Southern California as a social media specialist for their medical enterprise, Keck Medicine of USC. In his free time, he is also a business owner and the managing partner of InfluenceTree, a personal branding accelerator.

Leonard Kim's writing was the driving force behind why I started writing on Quora.

In the past 2 years, I have been able to mimic many of the successes Leonard had with his personal brand. I've almost matched his 10 million view count on Quora. I followed his formula, and have been getting myself into as many publications as he has by sharing my personal story and lessons learned.

Through the platform, we've gotten to know each other--and we both laugh about that first e-mail I sent him, desperate to "learn more."

Not only was Leonard able to build a large social following for himself, but in a short amount of time, he has significantly increased the engagement, reach and following of the social pages for the University of Southern California. I called him to see how exactly he did it.

By following these simple social media best practices, this is how Leonard built an audience on social media in the healthcare industry for USC:

1. Find the low hanging fruit.

When Leonard was first brought on board to manage the social profiles of USC, he noticed a lot of simple but essential things that needed resolving, such as:

The profiles weren't verified.

The background images didn't showcase their credibility.

The social media profiles had generic bios.

The organization was producing a high volume of content, but was not being shared through the various platforms.  

In early discussions with the web team, he focused on making small key changes to set the foundation for the social platforms. When you have multiple people looking at simple solutions with exponential impact, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time.  

2. Ask Questions.

To gain a better understanding of which direction the content needed to focus upon, Leonard held many discussions with the web and content team about how they could work together to improve a singular and powerful message to the world. This collaborative, team-based approach boosted morale within the organization and rallied the people around him to tackle the issues at hand. By holding regular discussions and more importantly, asking questions, Leonard not only discovered useful resources, he was also able to gather ideas others had on how to grow and develop the brand. These insights provided valuable information he was able to use in the development of a winning strategy.

3. Offer something unique.

Every successful company has something unique to offer. Leonard worked hard to identify the core components that would make the brand stand out:

Credibility achieved by being an academic medical center.

Housing 650 of the best doctors in the world recruited from top-tier medical institutions.

Combining this information with a brand campaign, the team created a powerful new bio that stood out.

The social media profiles now reflect: 500+ internationally renowned doctors at a leading academic medical center keeping you healthy, on track, and doing the things you love.

Don't underestimate the value in expressing the core value propositions in your social media bio.

4. Create a content calendar.

As another benefit of team meetings, Leonard discovered the types of content that resonated with the existing audience(s). They created a content calendar that consisted of:

With consistent and relevant content, patients found more value in following the various social channels. This led to organic engagement as patients started to engage, like, comment and ultimately feel comfortable enough to share their experiences online. Patients started to talk about how much they loved their doctors and the facilities. True engagement organically accelerated.

5. Make it a team effort.

Leonard made sure to regularly share strategies with department heads, and created allies who wanted to help generate content to drive more traffic to their respective departments. By bringing more stakeholders into the conversation, Leonard and the people he works with are able to generate the best type of content. He asked for advice from doctors, writers and experts within the field of medicine. This also gave individuals a sense of community, as people started working together to support the overarching brand.

Leonard carried this team mentality by also making alliances with content syndication networks outside of the enterprise, like Quora.

As a result of this team building approach, the content was able to generate over 500,000 additional reads within three months, and even have some key pieces syndicated into Forbes and Sporting News.

6. Share authentic content.

With approval, Leonard stripped away the corporate tone of the content that had previously been shared. He started treating the messaging throughout social media like a magazine. He mixed up the content, and then gave some of the pieces an opinionated voice coming from a person as opposed to an institution. People began to engage with the brand once they felt comfortable with the content, which significantly increased readership.

7. Engage with your audience.

With the new influx of comments about how happy patients were, Leonard saw an opportunity. Instead of searching for great things to say about the institution, he used testimonials and anecdotes from those who shared snippets surrounding their experiences. This created visibility for the medical enterprise, and resulted in even more patient testimonials.

8. Create a heatmap.

Once all this was in play, Leonard implemented growth strategies. To get the Twitter page in front of as many people as possible, Leonard created a heatmap of all the competitors, and targeted their audiences. This means that he researched who the target audience was and mapped out their interests and habits online. Then he was able to market directly to this existing group, creating content that they had a higher chance of engaging with.

This strategy increased monthly profile visits from 3,280 to 57,800, monthly impressions from 75,600 to 409,000 and new monthly followers from 91 to 6,853.

Within five months of implementing these strategies, the Twitter page went from 5,000 followers to 34,000 followers and not only surpassed UCLA Health's Twitter in both following and engagement, but turned into the most followed Twitter page for a medical enterprise in Southern California, and second most followed in California.

Businesses are made up of individuals who have great opportunities to work together to achieve amazing results. Leonard's customer-centric and team-focused approach helped create content that people cared about. When people care, they start to share.

It goes to show how authentic voices on social media platforms will make your brand stand out, and build loyal fans. Investing in building out your social media the right way can help you  outperform traditional advertising outlets.


Want to learn more about how to dominate social media in a market like healthcare? Want to see Leonard's social media calendar in action? Follow Keck Medicine of USC on Twitter.

Published on: Jun 2, 2016
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