Do You Know the Four Benefits of Google+ for Healthcare?

Google+ is a social media network many people and businesses have avoided investing much time in. While Google proudly reports 300 million active users, the reality is that Google’s perception of an “active” user is rather generous. Still, there are four main benefits for brands, particularly health care organizations, that invest in setting up and monitoring a Google+ page. Google-plus-healthcare

Google+ Local vs. Google+ Business

Shortly after Google created its social network, Google Places (the pages that showed reviews, maps, and addresses) was replaced with Google+ Local. Just like with Google Places, business managers can ”claim” locations to manage the facility information and respond to reviews. If you enter an address or name in the search bar, yet your business does not show, you are able to create a page.

The number of physical locations for a brand will dictate how many Google+ Local pages exist. However, just one Google+ Business page should exist for each brand.

The main benefit of a Google+ Business page is the ability to engage with customers through posting content, videos, and links back to your site. We have a headache-free post about setting up a Google+ page, so be sure to check that out before diving in.

Though you may be overwhelmed and confused, please remember that you can merge the Google+ Business page with Google+ Local listings (as long as they feature physical locations). Our State of Search pal, Greg Gifford, wrote a phenomenal run-down of how you can merge these pages.

Benefit 1: Local Reach

Arguably the most profound benefit of investing time in your organization’s Google+ page is the increased presence in Local results. Most patients are searching for organizations within a reasonable proximity a we call that Local Search a and these solutions are often pursued from a mobile device. Local search is incredibly important because it enables brands that wouldn’t normally rank on the first page to receive optimal positioning due to its location a and thus, its likelihood of providing visitors with a satisfying solution to their query.

local-search-results

Benefit 2: Innovative Ways to Engage

Google+ allows people and brands to interact with followers in ways Facebook and Twitter can’t. For example, a Hangout is essentially a video chat session, but unlike Skype, it can be accessed within Google+. No downloads are necessary. Helpouts, an extension of Hangouts, is a pretty cool feature that recently launched. It allows individuals or brands to help people in real-time. While most Helpouts are available at a cost, some brands are making representatives available to help an audience for free. Banfield, for example, offers real-time pet wellness information, covering a wide variety of topics. Not only does this educate an audience, it also strengthens the brand perception and public relations. It will be exciting to see how Helpouts continues to unfold and affect the way we seek solutions.

Banfield-google-helpouts

Auto Awesome is a new way Google can spruce up the photos and video you share. If you haven’t checked out the specific features, I urge you to do so.

To show an example: Google is showing off its holiday spirit by adding special effects to photos uploaded to Google+. In this case, it overlaid falling snow to the foreground of the picture I added. (This is more of a novelty feature than one that can provide much value for healthcare brands, but I wanted to show Auto Awesome in action.) It’s important to note that the Auto Awesome features aren’t automatically generated.

Once I uploaded the photo, nothing happened. About 15 minutes later, I received a notification with the new and improved photo! Auto Awesome is automatically enabled, but can easily be disabled through settings.

Benefit 3: Patient Advocacy

As more people turn to search engines when seeking health care, organization and physician reviews have increased in value and in quantity. Google takes many factors into consideration when serving results, so while a portfolio of pristine reviews doesn’t guarantee you a top-ranking position, it certainly helps the cause. Among the many ways your organization can manage its reputation through Google+, we recommend asking patients to contribute their feedback.

Google-plus-reviews

Not only does it give patients a chance to voice their experiences and overall level of satisfaction with the brand, it enables the organization to understand its strengths and weaknesses. And the social proof of quality care will most likely drive a higher volume of traffic to the website.

Benefit 4: Community Interaction

What separated Google from other social networks from the start was the ability to group people into categories, or circles, and thus filter what you share with specific groups. Similar to that mindset are Google+ Communities, groups of users that share a similar interest or profession. Healthcare brands and professionals are carving out new areas of interest, while simultaneously spreading innovation and connecting with other brands and patients. The “Healthcare Glass Explorers” community, for example, discusses and shares the many ways Google Glass is changing the world of healthcare.

google-glass-healthcare

Conclusion

As more interesting Google+ features and benefits roll out, it has become apparent how influential this social network website can be for brands. While we understand that exploring Communities or joining Hangouts can be time consuming, we suggest starting with the tactics that will most impact your brand’s reach in search a such as asking for reviews, claiming your local listing, and creating a Google+ Business page with a custom URL.

For more information regarding Google+ for Your Healthcare organization or to find out how your healthcare brand can benefit from a digital growth agency, contact us today.

healthcare-mobile-website

Who uses mobile?

Patients search for symptoms and facility directions from their phones. Physicians and administrators use tablets and smart phones to research and ultimately choose specific health care products. Whether you're a health care provider or a B2B brand that supplies health products, we strongly recommend exploring Google Analytics to determine the volume of visitors coming to your website through a mobile device. This will help you gauge the importance of investing in this product.

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You Can't Ignore Mobile Healthcare (mHealth)

Each year, more people use mobile devices to access the internet a so it shouldn’t come as a shock to realize that more people are searching for health information from their tablets and smart phones. A mobile site can benefit current or potential customers differently than a desktop version because those searching via handheld devices are often closer to conversion a and therefore, are looking for specific information.

healthcare-mobile-website

Who uses mobile?

Patients search for symptoms and facility directions from their phones. Physicians and administrators use tablets and smart phones to research and ultimately choose specific health care products. Whether you’re a health care provider or a B2B brand that supplies health products, we strongly recommend exploring Google Analytics to determine the volume of visitors coming to your website through a mobile device. This will help you gauge the importance of investing in this product.

Improved User Experience

Mobile websites are built for small screens and finger-driven navigation. This means visitors won’t have to zoom in to view an image or find a link to click. It is terribly frustrating to click on the wrong anchor text, and in this age, people don’t have the patience for a poor user experience. A mobile site enables you to use your fingers to move through a website.

cleveland-clinic-mobile-site

Functional Features

Desktop versions of websites usually fall short when viewed from a mobile screen a not only visually, but also in terms of functionality. When searching for a hospital from your smart phone, people expect to be able to seamlessly make a call from the website instead of memorizing the digits and manually entering them in the phone. Mobile websites also simplify the process of submitting contact information, whether through forms or email.

Provide information patients most want

When searching from a phone or tablet, people are restricted with the capabilities provided by a mobile screen, so it’s important to enable fast access to the information patients are most interested in retrieving. Tim Murphy, a mobile website developer, put together a helpful case study that explores how he defines the needs of three different personas. The key pieces of information patients typically want to find are:

  • Doctor information
  • Hours
  • Parking
  • Map directions (with native GPS ability)
  • Map of hospital layout
  • ER wait time feeds
  • Resources

As Tim shows in his presentation above, not everyone accessing the mobile website is a patient. Healthcare providers should feature content on the mobile site that caters to the different personas.

 

Effective advertising

Due to the significant percentage of user drop-off after the first page of results, ranking favorably in mobile search results is a must. For this reason, Paid Search is a great solution to driving traffic when your pages aren’t showing in organic results on the first couple of pages. The ads take up a majority of the real estate on mobile screens, encouraging clicks. However, it makes me cringe to see mobile search ads leading to landing pages that aren’t mobile-friendly. Clicks and impressions aren’t the metric your brand should be interested in a so it’s important to lead mobile visitors to an appropriate landing page. Depending on the ad messaging and searcher’s intent, an effective page should either have a form that is easy to fill out from a phone or tablet, or it should feature a prominent phone number that directs searchers to a line dedicated to addressing their problem.

Hospital-PPC-mistake

Mobile site or mobile app?

We often hear health care IT or marketing professionals debating whether to invest in a mobile website or a mobile app. We say: why not both? Each platform has its own advantages.

Mobile websites, as we’ve covered, are important for capturing traffic that isn’t necessarily searching for your specific brand. They enable the completion of tasks, such as finding a doctor or easily calling the facility a without having to download the application. An app, on the other hand, might more effectively serve current patients looking to stay on track with a health plan. An interesting article from Forbes introduces a recent report on mobile health apps by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The report examined each app in the Health and Wellness category a more than 43,000 apps a and discovered that fewer than 24,000 were found to include legitimate health functions. Organizing and grading apps based on functions (Instruct, Inform, Collect Data, etc.), the report scored the different apps to determine several areas healthcare apps must address in order ato move from novelty to mainstream.” Among these recommendations are increasing security and more effectively integrating app data with electronic health records.

IMS-health-app

Conclusion: Opportunity for health care brands

As our reliance on mobile devices for search increases, so should brands’ commitment to improving the functionality of their mobile websites. We strongly urge digging into analytics to understand what information visitors are most interested in, as well as what areas your brand could improve upon.

Blog Ideas for Patient Engagement

Successful health care organizations understand how a blog can act as a driving force in their health care marketing strategy. Blogs allow medical professionals to produce fresh content, boost the site’s visibility in searches, provide meaningful, relevant answers, and to position physicians, facility or practice as an authority.

hospital-blog-content

More than likely, you’re not going to acquire patients because you published an article that lists which vegetables have the most fiber. However, there are several benefits to continually updating your blog with fresh content:

  • Keep current patients informed and in a health-centric state-of-mind
  • Develop a reputation as a trustworthy, proactive health care brand
  • Involve physicians to share their expertise and build awareness
  • Promote events, brand achievements, and staff additions
  • Share patient stories and spread support

Content Ideas for Engagement

It’s important to first create an editorial plan that includes blog content ideas. We recommend varying the type of post to avoid being overly self-promotional or lacking brand-specific information. Informational posts a Informational posts should inform patients of key details about procedures, medical conditions, and innovations. Make your blog the go-to place for patients seeking cosmetic procedures, solutions to fertility problems, and support for chronic disease. This is an excellent opportunity to feature posts written by your hospital’s physicians. If patients can find knowledgeable, authoritative, easy-to-digest information on your blog, they’ll be encouraged to seek you out as the solution. Incorporate case studies, videos, and lists to vary the content and appeal to a wide audience.

Infertility-center-blog

Narrative posts : One of the most obvious reasons people enjoy perusing hospital blogs is the less-intimidating nature of the posts. Blogs serve as an exceptional platform for sharing stories that take place within the walls of the organization. For instance, a patient willing to share her experience through a heart valve replacement surgery can not only validate the capabilities of the doctors, but can also provide support to others in need of a a similar procedure.

Penn-Medicine-blog

Trust-building posts : While a steady stream of blog content raises your authority level in the eyes of patients, a robust healthcare marketing strategy should include posts that detail your expertise, as patients looking for medical services must place their trust in providers. Include posts that feature cutting-edge equipment used to diagnose and treat conditions, physicians’ commitment to health, and brand recognition.

Northwestern-blog

Day-to-day details : Use blog (and website) content to inform potential patients about the more frustrating aspects of getting good care. Include articles that show patients how to make an appointment, fill out paperwork ahead of time, and ensure a smooth, quick appointment. Talk to patients about insurance reimbursements, and put their minds at ease when describing your practiceas emphasis on ensuring coverage.

Florida-health-hospital-blog

General health tips : Regardless of the brand, the posts I most enjoy and take time to share are usually focused on general health. These can also be the most fun to write. Articles like “10 Ways to Sneak Veggies into Your Toddler’s Dinner” or “Tips for Avoiding Seasonal Affective Disorder” are able to resonate with a wide audience and potentially go viral. I’m a fan of the infographics from Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland-Clinic-Infographic

Finding Specific Topics

With broad categories sketched out, you’re ready to delve into specific blog ideas. We generally advise organizations to flesh out a at least six months’ worth of blog ideas. Look at the influencers. Review their blogs and make a list of the services, stories, and general information covered. As yourself, “How can my hospital follow these examples? What stories can we share? How can we explain this information more effectively?” Use Google Adwords. While you’re now required to log in to an AdWords account, you can still use the Keyword Planner tool without purchasing a campaign to determine the success rate of various search terms. Simply enter search terms based on research that shows what patients look for, and the program will gather commonly used search terms that relate to your query terms. Employ standard SEO practices. Once youave decided on keywords, use them sparingly. By most standards, experts agree that overstuffing a post with keywords alerts Google’s bots, who will mark your post as spam and downgrade your search standings. Make sure your infographics are SEO-friendly and URLs are structured properly. For healthcare systems, hospitals, and specialized physicians, a blog is an essential component of a dynamic healthcare marketing strategy. Blogs provide fresh content for your site and help to position your practice as the leading source of medical services in the area.