by Lisa Kersey
Though social media has become an integrated part of virtually all businesses and their communications strategies, it surprises me that some companies are still questioning the value of a blog. Particularly those in the healthcare industry. Just like many who waited until after the Supreme Court ruling, and even until after the election to start marching to the beat of health reform, there are some who are still waiting for a neon sign telling them that blogging really is good for business.
Almost always being late adapters, healthcare providers first convinced themselves that social media was not appropriate for health care – there were, after all, patient privacy issues to consider, legal approvals to obtain and other more important information that we, the experts, needed to push out to our patients, donors, doctors and communities. Then, like the Mayan calendar prediction, healthcare providers passed some invisible marker and realized that perhaps we ought to consider having a dialogue with these various groups of people. After all, hospitals are in the business of healthcare – something very personal that requires two-way communication to be effective. Hospitals also realized that the world around them was evolving, and that technology advances had not only changed what happens in the operating room, but technology also had disruptively innovated the way people talk to each other, research healthcare information and share their experiences and opinions.
In addition to hospitals, there are those in other sectors of the healthcare industry, such as health information technology, medical suppliers and other non-providers who have been reticent to embrace social media, and specifically blogging, even though it’s a low cost, high impact strategy for building awareness, extending reach and gaining new business.
Some of the most unlikely businesses across industries have found successful ways to incorporate blogging into their marketing and public relations strategies. If you are still looking for a reason to believe, here are five good reasons to establish or strengthen your blog in 2013. A blog allows a business to:
- Publish owned content. Unlike earned media, blogging allows you to write and publish your own content.
- Provide a platform for thought leadership. Blogging gives businesses the ability to have a voice in their industry – to showcase their expertise. While marketing materials focus on features and benefits to support the sales process, blogging is less about sales and more about demonstrating leadership in your industry.
- Create real-time dialogue. A blog is an informal way for businesses to invite the opinions and feedback of customers and potential customers. It allows a company’s leadership to make a more human connection with the people who express an interest.
- Extend reach. Blogging is a critical element of content marketing and one of the key drivers of search engine optimization (SEO). Improving your organic search rankings allows your information to reach not only current customers but potential customers – even those who would not have otherwise visited your website.
- Become a trusted source. Blogs have become a key source of information for the media to identify stories and experts to interview. By blogging regularly, you become part of the online library being searched by reporters and a potential source to be quoted in their articles. In essence, blogging gives you a 2-for-1 return – the ability to publish content and the potential for earned media coverage from a single post.
While these benefits address the importance of having a blog, it’s more imperative to be consistent. Like expecting the opinion column in your favorite newspaper or the restaurant recommendations in your favorite magazine, establishing a blog carries with it a responsibility to continue providing interesting content in order to build a readership – and more importantly to build relationships. And in the process, you will convert potential clients to real customers and motivate existing customers to become advocates.
What’s your favorite business blog? How has it impacted your behavior?