Obama (or rather Obama’s people) mastered the use of social media during the presidential campaign. From texting his VP selection to creating a mass following online on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., his campaign was masterfully executed, reaching millions instantly in trusted venues.
So, why then have they failed so miserably in the healthcare debate?
In a last ditch effort to woo support during congressional recess, the administration worked tirelessly to re-ignite the grassroots support network they had created during the campaign. One element of that effort was the creation of a new website intended to be a “reality check” about health reform: www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck .
Admittedly, it’s an interesting, consumer-targeted website. But, it’s been woefully unsuccessful. Why? Perhaps it’s too little, too late. Perhaps people are fatigued.
Or maybe, they just can’t find it.
A couple of days ago, I came across this article “White House’s Health Reform Web Site Struggling, Experts Say” . According to search engine optimization experts (that’s fancy for “people who know how to get your website to show up in Google”), “consumers are unlikely to find the site when conducting the most popular health-related online searches.” So, as a result, the “Obama administration’s online health reform strategy is falling short.”
Interesting. Well, you don’t have to look far to find parallels in our industry. In fact, I am working with a hospital right now having the exact same issue. Even when you type in the full name of the hospital in a search engine like Google, they appear on page seven of the search results. That’s a big problem for any business this day in age, but especially for a service provider like a hospital.
So, how can you fix this issue? I’m no expert, but here are some things I’ve seen work along the way:
- Drive people there all the time. Your web address should appear just about everywhere you see your logo. Advertising, press releases, events, chotchkies… The more traffic, the more “important” your website becomes in the eyes of Google. An easy place to start is enticing your employees and physicians to visit your site.
- Free media, free media, free media. The more news mentions you get, the better.
- Use key search words. Make sure the language you use in your website is likely what consumers would use to search for a healthcare provider in your area. This is one of the errors experts claim Obama made with his reality check site.
- Use the wire. If you are putting out a press release and want more pick up, pay a couple hundred bucks for the wire – even your state or regional wire. You’ll get guaranteed pick up of your press release on dozens of online news sources.
- Invest in Search Engine Ads. This is relatively inexpensive and will guarantee your site is listed at the top of search results for certain key words (that you get to choose).
- Be patient. Don’t be naïve. Building an online profile takes time, just like building brand awareness in your community did. Stay at it and be consistent.