According to Hat Trick Associates, as of 2010, there were about 450 million active English language blogs. And in Blog Rules, Nancy Flynn explains that in 2006 a new blog entered the blogosphere every second. Even before Facebook and Twitter, businesses were using blogs as a way to have instant, two-way communication with customers and prospects online. So, why wouldn’t rehab therapists blog? It’s a great way to educate the community, give your practice personality, and promote your expertise.
While you obviously can’t share individual patient data or patient-specific recommendations, you can use your blog to educate, inform, and market generally. From sharing best practices and enlightening anecdotes to highlighting your key differentiators in services or a few core-strengthening home exercises, blogging helps you and your clinic:
- Add value by providing ongoing education. Treatment shouldn’t stop when patients walk out the door. Supplement regular therapy sessions not only with a home exercise program, but with your blog, which will provide patients with great health (and prevention!) resources to maintain their functionality and prevent further injury.
- Establish expertise and increase overall brand awareness. Your patients will appreciate your advice, but more importantly, they’ll trust you. And trust not only strengthens your position as the musculoskeletal expert, but it also fosters loyalty, which is essential. Patients have a lot of choice when it comes to rehab therapy, and you want them thinking of your practice—your brand.
- Increase loyalty through increased interaction with patients and peers. A blog keeps your brand top of mind through interaction. You’ve provided ongoing education and shared your expertise. Your patients are already thinking of your brand when they think physical therapy. So, why wouldn’t they recommend you to friends and family? People love to share knowledge with their circles, and they do not forget good experiences. Word of mouth can serve as a crucial revenue stream for your clinic.
Website vs. Blog
Your website is fairly static, and unless you’re the webmaster or have a very user-friendly editing platform, you probably can’t easily change it. A blog allows you to add content regularly. Blogs are also representative of your voice; they’re casual, communicative, and welcoming. A blog essentially enlivens your online presence. Furthermore, whereas website editing can prove tricky, blog platforms, such as WordPress or Blogger, are very user-friendly, fast, and cloud-based! Some folks even recommend just building your website within one of these blog platforms, making your blog your actual site.
Blogs are all about content, and search engines, like Google, love new content. Thus, a blog can improve your search rankings. Search rankings drive traffic and good content drives repeat visitors. Both of these aid with conversion, be it new referral sources or patients.
Lastly, blogs allow for comments, which means you can receive more feedback and develop stronger online relationships—not only with customers and prospects, but with physicians, fellow PTs, and educators.
Gimme Some Tips
- Post regularly. Set a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
- Know your audience. You know your patients and your profession the best, so stay on topic and post things that interest them.
- Follow other blogs. The best way to learn how to blog is to read others. What are other therapists doing that works? What are they writing about? What’s their style? You’ll be surprised how many content ideas you generate simply from reading others’ posts. Blogger Ann Wendel shared her top five online PT resources. Several blogs are on her list. Give those a whirl as well as PT Think Tank, Physiospot, In Touch PT, ATI Physical Therapy (good example of patient-facing blog), and Allan Besselink’s blog.
- Always respond to comments. As we discussed earlier, any and all comments are valuable. Respond promptly and with thought. You win over readers by responding to their comments.
- Use social media to help drive traffic. Use your social media sites to promote your blog. Anytime you post new blog content, be sure to share it on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Be creative. Have staff members introduce themselves to patients via guest blogs; post video blogs in addition to text and images; or periodically post patient testimonials.
- Be polished. No, you don’t have to have a creative writing degree to write blog posts, but there is value in making sure your writing is polished. Proofread your work, be consistent in style, and follow CopyBlogger for essential blog writing tips.
Want more tips? From a writing perspective, check out Writer’s Digest’s “The 12 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Blog,” and from a more general perspective, check out blogging specialist Amy Lynn Andrew’s “15 Basic Blogging Dos and Don’ts.”
Do you have a rehab therapy blog? Share it in the comments below for others to check out. Got any additional tips or perhaps further blogging questions? Also, post them below. I’d love to develop a part two of this blog based on the resources and questions you all ask.