Who is the true king – content or social?
By now almost everyone has heard the phrase, “Content is king.” So who first uttered this aphorism? And when? And is it still true on the Internet?
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates generally gets the credit, for an essay he published in January 1996.
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting,” Gates opined. “The broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.”
Nearly two decades later, some argue that social media has knocked content off the king’s throne. They say that social media’s power lies in its massive distribution network, with billions of users on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
The argument is that when a social media user with lots of online friends posts a fascinating quotation or photograph or video on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, it goes viral because of the user’s extensive network.
They’re wrong. Sure, the extensive network helps. But first the post has to be interesting. Ergo, social media may be queen, but content is still king.
How do I know? Google tells me so.
There’s plenty of evidence in health care. Before patients look for specialist doctors, they generally look first for information about their health condition and possible treatment. Google confirms this with cold, hard data:
Monthly searches on Google
|Lung cancer||1,220,000||Cancer doctor||60,500|
|Colorectal cancer||823,000||Cancer specialist||33,100|
Note that roughly four times as many Internet searchers look for information on breast cancer as for information on oncologists. Even bladder cancer – a far rarer form of cancer – draws five times as many searches monthly as “cancer doctor.”
Should a medical practice strive to capture the attention of these searchers who aren’t yet looking for physicians?
Our answer unequivocally is “yes!” Why not? Soon most of them will be looking for physicians. Why ignore five-sixth of your prospective patients?
Note the last sentence of Gates’ quote above. He could have just as easily said, “No medical practice is too small to participate.”
For practices, health care content isn’t prohibitively costly. Just about all of it is already in a doctor’s head.
Thus, no matter how large or small your practice, dear doctor, give information foragers what they want on your website and you’ve automatically built trust and interest in your ability to help them.
Lessons from department stores
Accurate, useful, patient-centric content makes your website easier to find, thanks to Google. It also helps to convince visitors that your practice is the one to help them. How? By fulfilling informational needs first, you keep someone longer on your website – a.k.a., your online clinic – and thus increase chances of converting him or her to making an appointment.
The web term for this is “site stickiness.” Beyond the Internet, stickiness is also a proven retail concept. Department stores work very hard at arranging display windows on the outside and organization and presentation of merchandise inside the store.
The goal is to keep shoppers engaged and inside the stores as long as possible. When they do, sales go up. It happens all the time.
So get more patients with better website content. Make it sticky. In a future blog posting, we’ll look at tactics for boosting stickiness.