The Internet has become one of the most popular tools for researching all types of information and services. Practitioners who develop an online presence are far more likely to be found by potential clients who search the web for information. Private practice professionals who are reticent about marketing themselves online are missing out on an important marketing opportunity.
Blogging and social media are two of the most powerful tools for online marketing. Here are five ways you can leverage these tools to market your clinical practice online:
1. Create a Blog Instead of a Website
Private practice websites tend to be static and can end up looking like blatant advertisements. A blog, on the other hand, can be used to inform, educate and offer support to potential clients. By updating your blog on a regular basis with useful content, you can subtly market yourself as a knowledgeable and caring professional.
2. Reach Out with Free Informational Giveaways
You can use your blog to create a client contact list by giving away a free report or other resource via email. The resource should provide useful information that will be appreciated by a broad audience. Once you have started to create a list of email contacts, you can stay in touch with them by emailing additional reports and updates about your practice.
3. Use SEO Keywords to Improve Search Engine Ranking
Most of the readers of your blog will find it when they do an online search. If your blog doesn’t show up in search engine results, it won't be found by readers who are potential clients. You can use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, like inserting keywords, to improve the ranking of your blog posts. For example, when you write about a subject like depression, use keyword phrases such as "overcoming depression" and "treatment for depression," since these phrases will be used by potential clients who are Googling information. You can find out more about SEO strategies at SEOmoz.
4. Promote Your Blog on Social Media Platforms
Use social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook to establish yourself as an online expert and build a following. Each time you add new content to your blog, promote it on social media and include a link that will send readers to your site. This type of link building will help improve your search engine ranking and make it easier for clients to find your blog when they search. You can also enhance your online presence by using social media to share useful content by other authors.
5. Commenting on Blogs
Many professionals increase their sphere of online influence and establish relationships with other professionals by commenting on blog posts. Blog commenting is another area where back links can be used to attract readers to your blog. The key to effective commenting is to add value with additional information, rather than simply promoting your own practice.
Ethical Online Marketing
The professional code of ethics that governs private practice must extend to all forms of online marketing. Of primary concern is the need to respect patient privacy and confidentiality. Since social media messages have the potential to be read by large numbers of people for an indefinite period of time, care must be taken to avoid discussing information obtained during patient sessions. Practitioners must also remember to stay within the boundaries of their discipline during all online interaction and avoid commenting on issues outside the scope of their professional expertise.
This post is written by Erica Moss, who is the community manager for Georgetown University's online MSN programs, offering one of the nation's leading midwifery programs.
Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos on Flickr