The following is a guest post by Jeremy Wosner, Founder of Doctorpedia, a health media company.
We live in very different times from what was the norm a generation ago. Back then, your contact with people half a country or a world away was limited, and your professional prowess was based on reputation and word of mouth. In today’s online age, you no longer need to have your name in a directory or rely on a network of people to recommend you to patients. What you need today is a strong online presence and a powerful online brand.
Why is a powerful online brand so important for Doctors?
The Need for Branding
Maybe a better question to start with is: why do you need branding? You could argue that if a patient comes to you for treatment, they already recognize your expertise. That’s true, but what makes you different from other specialists in your field? What difference does it make to a patient if they go to you or a similarly qualified doctor?
The answer is branding.
What Good Branding Can Do
Branding takes your patient beyond your impressive qualifications and expertise. It allows your patient to get to know you before they even meet you. They get to see for themselves why you are better suited than any similarly qualified doctor to their specific needs.
Branding also gives your patients an idea of what they can expect from you as a doctor.
Loyalty, Trust, and Reputation
Most people don’t look forward to a doctor’s appointment. It can bring feelings of anxiety and stress. While they may trust your expertise, they’re also concerned with the overall experience. Suppose you have established your brand as welcoming and comforting, and you follow through on that. In that case, you build a reputation based on your welcoming brand, creating loyalty and trust. You also display your ability to meet your patient expectations.
Deciding on your brand
Unless you’re just beginning your journey as a doctor, you probably already have an online professional presence. You may not even be fully aware of the extent of it. Patients may have evaluated your services on review sites, commented on elements of your expertise and manner on message boards, and given recommendations in a website’s comments section. The feedback may not always have been positive. However, it is important to know the good and the bad to know where your brand stands.
Your Philosophy and Approach to Medicine
Any brand you establish has to be about you and your approach to medicine. For example, building a brand as an innovative and free-thinking physician won’t work if you believe in a more conservative approach.
Once you are clear on what values are important to you as a doctor, you will find it easier to build a powerful and consistent brand philosophy. If you are a strong advocate of holistic medicine, your aim should be to have that at the core of your online presence. That means making sure that everything online associated with your name is consistent with your brand.
How do you build a powerful online brand?
You’ve established your brand philosophy, and you know the message you want to relay to your online audience and prospective patients. Now comes the crucial part: how do you build and establish a powerful, consistent, and trustworthy online brand?
The following are some of the areas to focus on as you develop your online brand:
Before you head out into the world to bring people back to your door, it’s important to make sure that your house is in order. No matter how much work you do in establishing your brand through external sources, it can all be undone by a poor practice website. Your website will often be your primary tool in building your online brand. In order to properly market yourself, it is crucial to take the time to make sure that the site is user-friendly, promotes your brand, has good content, and looks professional.
The simplest way to build your brand is to establish your doctor profile on popular websites. You won’t have time to build and maintain a profile on every website with doctor listings, so you need to decide which sites have the traffic and cater to your needs.
While you want to make sure you stand out from the competition, you also don’t want to stick out. Make sure you find a site that has reputable doctors and is known for having a doctor-led community. Keeping in the right company will also help your brand.
Your profile must introduce you and your brand effectively, giving patients a broad overview of who you are, what services you offer, and your medical beliefs.
The most important part of establishing a doctor profile is ensuring you update and review your information regularly.
Generating content is a great way to connect with patients and establish your credentials while providing useful health information. The best way of doing this is by producing high-quality educational videos. Video content gives the viewer the facts they need and a personality to connect with.
You can also write articles or a regular blog or even start a podcast about your specialty area.
People continue to move away from traditional media sources like newspapers, magazines, and TV as sources for news and information. We now have social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others in their place. Posting content to social media has become an increasingly integral part of building a powerful online brand. An insightful tweet, a link to one of your articles, or a short video clip on YouTube can efficiently drive traffic to your website and promote your brand.
Maintaining and Promoting Your Online Brand
Maintaining and promoting an online brand takes time and effort for any professional. For a doctor, time is a precious commodity, and in short supply, so you’re going to have to be efficient with your time.
You might decide to outsource some of the work to companies and sites that will help you maintain and promote your brand and perhaps ghostwrite some content for you. While this will save you precious time, it also disconnects you from the people you want to build a relationship with.
Many doctors choose to join doctor-led community websites or portals that specialize in helping maintain and promote their online brand while promoting patient education. Websites such as Doctorpedia offer doctors the tools to create and publish different types of content and share it with their established patient base. The benefit of these community-based sites is that your brand is aligned to a website designed with the online branding needs of doctors in mind. These sites can help you directly reach new patients and educate current patients. Tools like video business cards and engaging content allow you to show the human behind the credentials.
Building a powerful online brand is an essential part of building your reputation as a doctor. Even a small local practice now has access to a broader national and, in some cases, international audience. A powerful online brand can open you up to new opportunities and establish you as a leader in your field.