Writing a Blog That Gets Noticed and Converts Viewers to Patients
Neil Baum, MD
Neil Baum, MD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA, and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice: Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers. He is also author of Social Media For The Healthcare Profession, Greenbranch Publishing, 2011. He blogs at http://neilbaum.wordpress.com/
Many doctors are becoming involved in social media as they recognize that this is an effective way to become visible to your existing patients and to attract new patients to your practice as well. Of all the social media opportunities, blogging is probably the easiest place to get started with your social media campaign. Nearly every physician has something that is near and dear to them and would like to share it with others. I’m often asked how do you get to the top of Google (an article will be appearing shortly) and perhaps one of the best ways is to start blogging, as you will soon become recognized by major search engines such as Google, which I consider the Holy Grail of search engine optimization. Blogging is such an easy way to get your information or your content on the Internet and it is free. Blogging does not cost anything, just your time.
1. Choose a topic that is near and dear to you and your practice. If you are a primary care doctor and you have a practice that is focused on weight loss, then this is a topic where you know others will find your material useful. If you have a practice that places an emphasis on easy access and you have hours early in the morning, in the evening, and on weekends, let your patients and potential new patients know about your extended office hours.
2. Select an attention-getting title. Think of your title as a billboard on the highway and you only have 3-4 seconds to capture the attention of the driver and motivate them to take action, such as stop at your restaurant, gas station, or hotel. Just like that billboard, you only have seconds to entice them to read your blog and go to your blog or website for more information. For example, I wrote an article with a title, “Incontinence-Diagnosis and Treatment”. A boring title that garnered few responses. A rewrite of the title, “Incontinence-When It Gets Wet Down There”, got a few more viewers and responses. However, the best title: “Incontinence-How Not To Depend On Depends!” This blog generated dozens of new patients and lots of twitter…not the social media kind but the buzz kind. Don’t forget that the title shows up in so many places on the web and speaks volumes about your blog.
3. Watch your tone. Remember that writing, just like speaking, has a tone. You want to write for patients, not for medical colleagues. Make every effort to be conversational. Try to write to your readers. Use the word “you” more than the word “I”.
4. Be brief. A blog should be in the range of 200-400 words. This is not the place to publish a lengthy tome. Save those for your website.
5. Make it eye friendly. You want to use of plenty white space, which is easier to skim than a page that is full of text. Make use of bullets and subheadings every few paragraphs.
6. Make your material interesting. You want to provide fresh, unique content that is new, current and something that they haven’t read or heard of previously. If you are one of the first in your area or community with a new piece of technology, then use your blog site to tell others.
7. Ask for feedback and comments. You want to make your site interactive. This is one of the features that differentiates your blog site from your website. Websites are static and only push information one way, i.e., from your website to the viewer. A blog allows and encourages your viewers to give their opinions and impressions of your material. It is this interactivity that makes your blog site attractive to your viewers. It is a good idea to pose questions for your patients. Ask them what they think of your newly renovated office space or what do they think about getting their lab results over a secure patient portal? Remember that your readers feel valued if you involve them in two-way conversations.
8. Make sure that contact information is on every page of your blog site. Always include the name and address of the practice, the name of the doctors, and a phone number on every page.
9. Make use of hyperlinking. Make an effort to have each blog contain 5-7 hyperlinks that will link back to your website. A hyperlink is a word or phrase within a document that links back to somewhere else, such as your website. These are readily visible as they are in a different color and usually are underlined to call attention to the hyperlinks.
10. Finally, you must post regularly. If you want those eyeballs returning, then you must provide new content on a regular basis. So many websites are created and left unattended for months or even longer than a year. A blog site is like the farmer’s fence, it is always under construction.
I hope you have found these 10 suggestions useful. If you have any other ideas you would like to share with my readers and me, please let me hear from you. (See suggestion Number 7!)