Young Ophthalmologists Addressed at AAO 2013

AAO 2013 New Orleans, LA, Young OphthalmologistsWe just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013 in New Orleans, LA.  I had the privilege of participating in the Young Ophthalmologists program where a variety of professionals speak about various aspects of a young doctors’ career.

My message to the young ophthalmologists was understand the merits of  marketing, to engage patients digitally and to exhibit transparency.  The reason?  As AAO president Paul Sternberg, M.D. stressed….because we (ophthalmologists) must continue to adapt and understand the needs of our patients.

Understand Marketing vs. Advertising

Physicians must need to understand basic marketing.

Marketing is not advertising.  Marketing studies the needs and wants of your clients (patients) and provides a solution.

Modern patients want 3 things;

  1. Health information
  2. Doctors who engage digitally
  3. Doctors and Practices which display transparency

Health Information

More than 75% of Americans first venture to the web when looking for health information and looking for a doc.

Google ranks websites based upon the quality of the content of a website.

Doctors have a golden opportunity to provide quality health related content on their websites.  This content educates patients and is used as a fuel to gain high rankings…it’s a “win-win.”

Patients are looking for credible health related content and doctors get rewarded by getting their websites ranked.  Now the website becomes a powerful marketing tool to attract new patients!

Engage Digitally

Just as many offices offer convenience by having Saturday or evening hours, we must learn to understand the needs of our patients.  Patients expect to find fresh and relevant information on the web about their doctors.

There are different ways and levels to digitally engage patients.

At the very least, everyone should have a website.  If no website, your office basically doesn’t exist, even if the office location is across the street.

Doctors may choose to add content on their website.  “Content” would come in the form of articles which talk about health related issues.  Credible articles on health issues brings value to the website and the doctor.  With value, comes trust.

The most engaging types of websites are interactive blogs.  This is the most compelling type of website, has the best marketing potential and engages patients.  This public display of a “conversation” is the purest form of social media.

Personal Transparency

I often speak about the quest to find doctors who are people.  This may indeed be the modern “bedside” manner.  Through a well constructed web presence, a patient should be able to determine some basic elements about their doctors.

Memberships to elite organizations, diplomas from fancy schools, membership plaques, etc. usually adorn our office walls.  Unfortunately, these have little relevance to our patients.

Instead, young doctors must consider distinguishing themselves as who they are vs. what they are.  In my office and on my website, I often refer to my personal hobbies, interests and activities.  These personal attributes are much more relevant to any non-medical person.

Not to sure about sharing personal attributes?  Then consider sharing some of your practice philosophies.

Transparent Business

A medical practice is a small business.  Every small business, except for medical practices, operates transparently.

Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s list are popular due to the relevance to the consumer.  Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of the office, ease of appointments, time spent with the doctor, etc. are all important factors when patients chose a doctor.

Every other business runs transparently.  Review sites for doctors are going to increase, not disappear.

Randall Wong, M.D.
Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLCSEO and Blogging for Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Website Should Be “Under Construction”

Medical marketing enterprises.  Every great website should be under constructionEvery great website should always be “under construction.”  Of the three types of sites;  resource, marketing and interactive, only the resource site is ever really finished.

And you know I’m not talking about web design.

Great websites must remain dynamic whether by adding a constant stream of great content or with user generated comment vis-a-vis threads and conversations.

Content Marketing is Best

Blogging, or content marketing, remains the most important marketing strategy for your medical practice or small business.  While many businesses promote their use of a social media marketing strategy, blogging remains #1 in terms of ROI, branding and value.

The success of content marketing can be easily measured.  Visitors, bounce rate, comments, click through rates are all metrics showing the likes and needs of your patients, your customers.

The expense of time spent on a social media campaign is less tangible perhaps only because social media efforts ultimately draw attention to a great website that is “under construction.”

Value, Dedication, Commitment

Your content provides your patients with value.  Your articles provide solutions (answers) to their health specific questions.  Moreover, your consistent writing also displays a level of dedication and commitment that sets you apart from your competitors.

Value is the key to any website, but by continued and consistant writing, your dedication and commitment turns you into an industry expert.

Your content also remains the key factor to obtaining great SEO…unmatched and immesurable with any social media campaign.

What Can You Do?

Develop a long range objectives for your practice, i.e. define your marketing goals.

Write articles consistently on topics related to your long range initiative (SEO best practice).

With time, your articles will begin to reach out to your patients, compelling them to write and leave comments.  Make sure to answer each of the comments in a timely manner, thus creating a dialogue.  This visible interaction and engagement is the heart and soul of a blog and will eclipse any social media based campaign with respect to ROI, branding and providing value to your patients.

Both content marketing and engaging your patients online present time challenges and require consistent and continued publications and responses.  

A great website, therefore, is never completed and, hence, is always “under construction.”

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

Google Plus: Lots to “Like”

Google Plus and Author Rank, Medical Marketing Enterprises.There are 3 reasons to use Google Plus.  After starting your Facebook, I recommend starting your Google Plus Account.

Your Google + account will now get you noticed on a Google Places, can aggregate any reviews about your practice (from other sites other than Google), selectively share information via Circles with new and old colleagues and starts your Author Ranking!

Google Local and Business Page

Starting a Google + Business page simply requires a free Gmail email address.  Follow the directions to get your practice indexed on Google +.

As Facebook and Google Plus plan their local search strategies, you want to make sure either you create your business page or claim one which already exists.  Simply make sure your contact information is correct.  With time, you can add more information.

Google Circles: Selective Sharing

A unique feature of Google + are the “circles.”  Circles are different groups of people based upon a common interest or relationship, for example, Friends, Family, Business, etc.

This allows you to pick and choose the group of friends with whom you’d like to share information. You can use “circles” to customize your communications….you can tailor who you’d simply like to follow versus people you’d like to share information.

At the outset, Circles are the same as “Friends” on FaceBook, but Friends lack the ability to share vs. follow and sharing may not reach all of your followers. (Facebook does not share all of your posts with all of your followers).

Circles allows  you to wear several hats yet use the same account.

Author Rank

Author Rank is the newest variable introduced last summer for SEO.  Simply put, author rank, measures your expertise and contribution to the Internet on any particular subject.  How your Author Rank is computed is another post.  The greater your Author Rank, the more credible and trusted you are as an expert.

The higher your PageRank, the higher your rankings.  Now, the better your Author Rank and PageRank, the higher your rankings.

This means two articles with very similar content, i.e. with the same PageRank, will now be ranked differently based upon Author Rank…the article written by the author with the highest rank (i.e. trust and credibility) wins!

Google Authorship via Google Plus Profile

Establish your Google Authorship!  The next goal is to inform Google which is/are your website(s).  Uniting your Google Plus profile with your particular website(s) alerts Google of your Authorship.

In your Google Plus profile, list the website(s) to which you contribute.  In your websites, attach the code to your Google Plus profile.  This is most easily done by creating a hyperlink using your name as anchor text back to your Google Plus profile page, or make sure you are using Genesis on WordPress!

WordPress and Genesis

The newest version of Genesis recognizes author rank and allows you to marry your user profile with your Google + profile by simply entering your profile code into your WordPress user profile….done!

To your Success!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

My Favorite Social Media Platforms

Start Facebook Business Page only after website is completeWhen you are ready to start using social media, I recommend starting Facebook and Google +.  Start them only if your website is up and running…and in that order.

Social media platforms are great and very powerful, but if you are not ready for social media, no need to draw attention to a website that either doesn’t exist or is horribly stale.

Your primary reason for starting is to broaden exposure of your website, thereby marketing your practice…and to get indexed on local search.  Both Google and Facebook have likely already indexed your office address as a local business.  More and more, readers are using FB and GP for “local search,”  that is, looking for doctors and other businesses while logged in to FB and/or Google Plus.

Setup Facebook First

Establish your Facebook first.  It is the largest social media platform filled mostly with friends and family.  Not only will you know many of your new “fans,” but, it will be much easier for you to find someone to help you get started.  Starting will be less onerous!  Chances are that someone in your own home or office can show how to get started.

Facebook is a great way to politely remind your friends and family the nature of your business and what type of medicine you practice.  Most of us don’t like to “advertise” to our friends, yet most of our friends and family would indeed prefer to use our services because of our relationship.  Your friends may be too bashful to ask you directly about talking shop or are too embarrassed to admit they forgot your specialty,  but they can look you up easily on FB.

Set up a Facebook Page or claim ownership of a pre-existing page (sometimes you’ll find your business is already listed on FB).  You don’t have to duplicate the information on your website, but do make sure you have accurate contact information.  Second, make sure you have a link to your website.

Readers interested in becoming your next patient, as is true for all social media platforms, will find their way to your website.  Your FB page (and other social media platforms) simply draw attention to you and your website.

“Liking” Facebook

In your office and on your website, ask your patients to visit your Facebook page and “Like” you.  “Liking” you ensures that everyone who does so will receive all updates made on your Facebook Page.  Also, the more likes a page receives, the more a business page will be displayed during local search.

Lastly, make sure Facebook Page is linked to an email address.  Comments and “Like” notifications will be emailed to you so you an monitor FB without logging in!

What Do I Write on Facebook?

Announce your most recent articles posted on your website.  You’ve already spent lots of time and energy writing some great content, now use your new social media accounts to share your stuff!  As you gain confidence, you’ll want to add news about the office, media releases about health related events, etc.

The idea is to let people know about your office, the type of medicine you practice, you are willing to engage in social media and you have a website.

With time you’ll find others will take notice and will be following your postings on FB and GP.

To your successs!

Next time…Google Plus!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

 

 

I Bought a New Car

Meet patients online needs.I bought a new car last week.  This is not a post about buying a car, but there are some strong messages about online relationships.

I chose a 2013 Honda Crosstour, the dealer, and my salesperson before ever walking into a sales room.  I did it all online.

The Right Time to Buy

I haven’t had a brand new car since 1990.  My last 3 were previously owned.  I simply drove too much to justify the rapid depreciation costs of a new vehicle.

While two kids are already driving, we will have 3 more who will be of driving age in the next 18 months.  The car I just traded in wasn’t safe enough to keep around for any of them.

So, for a myriad of reasons it was time to buy.  As it was Christmas break, I didn’t want to waste precious vacation time.

Online Window Shopping

Through several auto sites (USAA, Edmunds, Autotrader) I expressed interest in the particular make and model; Crosstour V6, 2013.  In doing so, interested dealers in zip code made contact via email.

Within 24 hours I had received emails from 6 area dealerships.  I read the reviews of the dealerships.  I easily chose two finalists.

The others were disqualified for;

  • Deception:  gave me a quote for a 2012, not 2013.  No 2013′s even in stock.
  • No Quote:  wanted me to visit dealership first before giving me a quote
  • No Response: waited too long to email me or return emails
  • Poor After Market Service

“I Will Beat Any Deal You Receive”

The two “finalists” were quick to communicate and straightforward with answering my questions through emails, gave me a quote and showed some personal interest in meeting me.  They engaged me by accommodating my needs.

In his opening email, my eventual salesperson, “Ama,” even stated he’d” beat any offer” and gave a most competitive quote.  To me, this meant he was serious in wanting to meet me.

For the purpose of comparing, I visited both dealerships.  The first dealership just couldn’t beat the quote I received from Ama.  I drove across town and bought the car from Ama.

What Can You Learn?

Buying a car is a huge purchase.

It seems only too natural to start your search for a dealer and salesman online.  Price is a huge factor, but so is the personality of the sales team.  Are they willing to negotiate, or are they jerks?  Can I start a relationship with a specific person before entering the show room?

For me, there was great satisfaction in already knowing who I’d be dealing with upon my arrival, knowing he’d was anticipating my visit and that we’d already begun the negotiation.  I was also very happy that I was choosing a dealership endorsed by others.

Satisfied, I made the purchase.  I had found a dealership who takes online shopping seriously.  I met a salesman who understands that the online customer is likely to be very savvy about the purchase, but also, very serious about buying a car.

They met my needs.

Just as the dealership met my needs.  We, as doctors and health providers, need to meet our patients needs.  Most of America search first for questions about health providers online.  We need to provide information on our sites about our practice philosophy and who we are as people.

Just as I expect this about a car purchase, our patients, with their health on the “line,” expect to find us on the Internet, too.  Create websites with great content, educate and become transparent.

The car sales industry is changing, but really it’s the consumer, i.e. our patients.  I turned to the Internet for my car.  Doesn’t it make sense more would turn to the Internet for more important issues such as health?

Take them seriously, meet their needs and you’ll be greeting them in person when they walk through your office door.

Social Media Use in Healthcare and Hospitals

Hospitals Using Social Media Increase.  HCSML finds new home at MCCSMThe Health Care Social Media List (HCSML) has found a new home with The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM).

What is the HCSML?  It’s simply a list of hospital organizations which advocate/support social media.

The list is unique and the objectives of the MCCSM are inspiring.

Over 1500 Hospitals Use Social Media

The HCSML lists hospitals by state using various social media platforms including;  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, 4Square and/or a blog.

The list has been renamed from HSNL (Hospital Social Networking List).  The list was compiled manually by the originator of the list, Ed Bennet, to offer those organizations interested in social platforms a resource for connecting with each other.  Over the past four years, the list has grown successfully.

The new home hopes to make the list more autonomous by allowing users (key contacts within the organization) to manage their own listing.

Sublists of HCSML to Include Medical Practices

The MCCSM hopes to increase usage and awareness of social platforms within the Mayo Clinic and beyond.  The center hopes to have sublists for international organizations, scientific associations, state hospital associations … and medical practices!

For now, inclusion are limited to U.S. hospital organizations.

What Does This Mean?

The endorsement of social media by hospital organizations is a clear message for your medical practice.  Social media is a recognized method for developing real relationships and communicating between doctors, patients …and large organizations such as hospitals.

The timing is perfect for you to integrate your practice into the digital world.  While a hospital’s needs (reaching out to other organizations, doctor groups associations and patients) may be different than those of a private practice (reaching out to patients and peers),  both hospitals and doctors need to effectively communicate and to form relationships.

This should energize those of you interested in developing a website/blog and maintaining its use.  Slowly integrate social media into your practice.  There’s a bigger initiative expecting you to do so!

 

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

Easy Steps to Following a Website

To Follow as website is easy with RSS and Email.  Also, Social Media can be useful.Allowing your readers to follow news and events of your medical practice is easy and automatic.  Using RSS feeds and even social media is easily done and the process is completely automatic.

“Following” allows your readers to keep up to date without manually visiting your website.  ”Following” is automatic.

On the other hand, allowing your readers to follow your website is easy to do with RSS/Email and social media….if you are ready.

 RSS and Email

These are the most common ways to follow a website.

RSS (really simple syndication) is a very easy, and anonymous, way to receive information about a new post on a website.  Your readers subscribe by clicking on the RSS Icon .  This is usually now located in the upper right portion of a webpage.

Every time new content is published, the new article is sent, via the RSS feed to your “reader”, also known as an “accumulator.”  Your “reader” (for example, Google Reader) then collects all the RSS feeds from various sites and keeps them in one place!

Most websites (and your medical site should, too) also allow subscription or “opt in” via email.  By rendering their email address, patients can receive updates via email.  Simple.

Social Media Icons

Choose a social media platform easy for you to use and convenient for you.

By convenient, I mean easy for you to use and is something you’ll use often.  If using a social media platform, such as FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn is a drudgery, then don’t choose this as an option to follow a site.

Stick with RSS and/or email instead.

Remember social media platforms are great ways to follow a website and should not be expected to replicate all the information found on that website.   Social media simply draws attention to a website.

Social media platforms each appeal to its own demographic (for instance, YouTube and Pinterest may appeal to visual learners).  Twitter users (microbloggers) enjoy short and direct messages.

What Can You Do?

As a reader, don’t stress over the plethora of social media available.  Choose one or two offered by that website.  Very few webmasters are able to keep more than a few platforms up to date anyway.

As a webmaster/owner/practice administrator, don’t stress that you even have to use social media. Make sure that you provide an “opt-in” and RSS.  Only add social media when you are ready.

RSS feeds are generated automatically from your WordPress CMS (content management system).  You may link the feed to either Feedburner.com (free) or aWeber.com to email your subscriber list.

When you are ready, consider adding social media.  Choose one at a time.  Remember;

  1. You do not have to participate in every SM platform (it’s impossible).
  2. Participating in too many can be a mistake (you fail to keep them current)
  3. Placing too many icons on your website may look impressive, but probably says you don’t know what you are doing!

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of a Comment

The WordPress comment is as important as your great content.  After each of your articles, you should engage your patients to leave a comment.  A comment is more than a suggestion box.

The most valuable part of a website is the “comment.”  The “comment” is the key to a blog’s success to engage a potential patient.  Your goal is to create content that may generate comments.

Content is Still King

If you read enough about social media and content marketing, there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of great content.  In fact, content marketing (and therefore SEO) are indeed the only way to achieve and maintain high search rankings.

The rankings get you marketing exposure.  The comments (and your responses) engage the patient.

In other words, your articles get your readers’ attention.  It’s the comments that allow them to interact.

Value of the Comment

In addition to feedback, the value of a comment is to allow your readers to find each other.  Readers can find others with the same problem.  This ability to identify with others is crucial to developing a relationship between you and your next potential patient because this gives your reader an idea of how YOU will respond to THEM face to face.

Your articles certainly must contain relevant and fresh material, but in addition, should be compelling enough to move the reader to leave a comment (or ask a question).

Value of Responding

Your response is crucial.  Your response does more than answer an isolated question.  Your response creates a dialogue to be witnessed by subsequent readers.

The dialogue provides a way for the reader to learn about you, the physician.  This is where you display your “bedside manner” showing bits and pieces of who you are as a person, your practice philosophy, etc.

What Can You Do?

  1. Continue to write great articles.  Remember the rules to great SEO.  Keeping your content fresh and relevant is your biggest priority.  This will get you high rankings on the search listings pages (SERP).
  2. Write to generate “the comment.”  If you are writing about a particular health topic, stick to one aspect and avoid trying to write an exhaustive review.  Hit the high points…the reader may ask about a more subtle issue!
  3. Ask the reader to leave a comment at the end of the article.
  4. If you are giving your opinion, avoid trying to please everyone.  Take one side of an argument…and let your readers take the other side when they comment.
  5. And no matter what….answer each and every comment your articles generate.
  6. Be transparent.

By allowing comments to be posted on your site, you are demonstrating a willingness to engage your patients and are creating visual evidence of who you are as a person.

Social media, blogs, Internet 2.0 are all about relationships.  It’s no different between patient and doctor.

Care to make a comment?

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

The “Positive” Side of Negative OnLine Reviews

Negative Online Medical Reviews, Medical Marketing EnterprisesNegative online reviews can build your practice.  Negative online reviews can show that you care.   While you may believe this to be personally insulting, take the negativity and turn it around to make “lemonade.”

Online reviews will only become more popular.  The most objective websites will attract the most loyalty.  ”Legal” contracts forbidding negative remarks will disappear and so, too, will the “review” sites where only positive reviews will be published.

Here are a few ways to take “lemons” and make  lemonade.

You Are Not Perfect, You Are Human

In any business, it is impossible to please every customer, every time.  Of course you’ve had an unhappy patient, it happens to everyone…once in a while.

Our patients know we aren’t perfect.  Living in a world of only positive reviews is not realistic.  Humans make mistakes.  So, too, do medical practices.

The occasional negative review shows we are human.

Negative online reviews demonstrate your humanness and that you are willing to admit it

Fix Problems in Your Practice

Negative online reviews that are critical of  you and/or your practice can alert you to problem areas in the practice.

In addition, review sites can serve as a “suggestion box” alerting your practice of problems that need fixing.  These reviews provide an “outside” opinion of what needs to be fixed in your practice.

Show You Care

Whenever possible and in response to both positive and negative reviews, you should take the opportunity to respond to your reviewer.

Positive reviewers deserve a quick note of  ”thank you” for taking the time, and effort, to share their experience and opinions.

Negative reviewers;

  • wait 24 hours before responding.  You want your emotions to calm down, yet you don’t want the “complaint” to go unanswered.
  • comply with privacy restrictions
  • be positive, professional and constructive.  Give it your 5 star hotel approach.
By responding, your objective is to show subsequent readers/patients you care.  You may not ameliarate the negativity, but you can absolutely take this opportunity to show you care about your patients, your practice and your service.

Showing You Engage

Most importantly, you are showing your online world that you are willing to engage them by starting a conversation as you respond to their plaudits or criticisms.  Demonstrating the ability adn wilingness to engage by creating a dialogue is fundamental to realizing the fullest power of social media.

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

 

3 Keys to Writing Successful Posts

Great medical copywright, should be written with 3 goals in mind.  Your next post should provide value, be tailored to an individual “patient” and, most importantly, evoke a response.

Content Provides Value = No Value, No Patients

First and foremost, your articles must provide value.  Remember, value creates trust and trust brings loyalty.  If there is no value to your articles or website, you will never create traffic.  Think about every website you enjoy visiting….it provides for a need, whether it is a sports schedule, the weather or the latest recipe.

So, too, your medical website must create value.

The value you provide is your medical knowledge.  Your patients have questions, and you, as the authority, provide the answers.  Your answers to their problems solves their needs.

Write to Your “Ideal” Patient

Close your eyes and pretend you are talking one person.  This one person should be your “ideal” patient for this discussion.  The dialogue or explanation you have with this indidual is your next post.

By making this “personal” you will be speaking directly to your reader…your next patient.

You are not talking to a large group, you are speaking one-on-one.

By writing in this manner, you have a greater chance of engaging your readers, i.e. patients.  They will hear you speak to them through your article…one on one.  The greatest effect is that you will engage them, causing them to read more.

Don’t Please Everyone

You want to evoke a response.  You want your reader to leave a comment.

Your article is ideally delivering one message.  It should not be an exhaustive review, it should cover one topic.  It should cover the most salient details.  Resist the temptation to showoff by knowing all the answers (your readers know you do).  Leave something to be questioned.

A great article is informative (provides value), is written personally and evokes a response…or in social media terms, should start a conversation.  The most powerful article is written to invite the reader to leave a comment.

Making a comment or asking a question on your website is the most powerful element of social media.

What have you done?

You have written an article solving your reader’s question (providing value),  you have engaged them by writing personally and have evoked a response (they have left a comment).

This conversation allows subsequent readers to identify with your original reader.  You have created an opportunity for others with similar problems to identify with one another.  This is the power of your website and why you will stand out above your competition.

Care to leave a comment? :)

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com