Thursday, December 17, 2009

Randall Wong, MD: How I started my Web presence

Last week I proposed various ways doctors could embrace the Internet. I have been slowly implementing several projects using the Internet and Web 2.0 strategies. I have spent many hours learning these new ways, and though I have no authority, I do have a pretty good idea of how social media and the Web interact.

(Caution: As you read, do not get offended by the words “traffic,” “marketing,” “goods,” “selling,” etc. These are terms used on the Internet. It may offend doctors.)

As physicians, we have something to sell. We sell ourselves. We have our services.
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I have two Web sites (it just happened that way). Both are informational sites; they are my “goods.”

Total Retina is a typical informational Web site covering every element of an ophthalmic retina practice: health information, maps, hours, etc. Retina Eye Doctor is my second Web site, which is technically a blog and is a specialty site. It offers credible information about diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

I want to get as much Internet traffic as possible. My demographic is obviously patients with macular degeneration and diabetes. I am therefore marketing to find this type of relevant traffic. One way, a slow way, is to tell every patient that I physically see with either ARMD or diabetes to check out my site. This does work, but it is slow. These patients already know me and I use the sites to fortify my relationship with them. They may tell others.

Another way to build traffic is through social media (see below).

An even more effective way (and is what I am working on) is to have my sites appear within the top ten listings of a Google (or Yahoo or Bing) search. For instance, when a patient searches “macular degeneration” or “diabetic retinopathy,” I am hopeful my sites will eventually show up on the first page of results. Thousands of people type in these keywords daily. You can see how much faster this will increase traffic. From your own experience after searching, how many times do you click on something either “below the fold” or after the first page?

(I have been successful, to date, with keyword phrases “retina eye doctor” and “retina specialist Virginia.”)

Some of this traffic turns into patients. Depending upon the keyword phrases (the words typed into the search bar), I may come up in the search. Patients will click on my Web site, like what they see or read, and call and make an appointment. These patients would obviously be searching using key words that limit searches to their area (e.g. retina specialist northern Virginia).

A larger vision I have is to attract as much traffic as possible. I have a lofty goal of attracting 5,000 visitors per month by the spring. This may attract pharmaceutical companies or open doors for relevant advertising to create some revenue — I just don’t know. Achieving this goal will legitimately allow me to be somewhat of an authority of Web 2.0 technologies.

By the way, there are physicians building their practices by creating a national following. Some patients will travel for the best doctors.

Finally, social media creates a following. I contribute almost daily to my own blog. After each posting, I will “tweet” about the new article on Twitter. This is also picked up by other social networks; Facebook and LinkedIn.

Why? The power of social media is reaching many people, simultaneously. Literally hundreds of people know the instant I have a new article on my site. Intriguing? Social media allows people who are interested in you to follow you in real time.

Randall Wong, MD, is a retinal specialist in private practice in Fairfax, Va. Wong has a strong interest in Web 2.0, the Internet, and social media, and will write regularly about how social media can help build your practice and even improve healthcare.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Wong,
    sounds like you enjoy your work and are definitely interested in the internet/blogs and the fun and
    satisfaction of building up your sites. All the best to you. We have a couple of domains in the eye care field ourselves.

    thanks For the post,