Online video can help draw in patients

The goal is simple enough to state but reaching it is a challenge. The ever-rising expectations of Internet users require us to make constant improvements so the visitor's experience is relevant, meaningful and worthy of recommending to others.

The humorous "viral videos" that appear on YouTube and get forwarded in emails generate millions of viewers for a few days then drop out of sight quickly. This "spike and drop" phenomenon is interesting but it is not our focus. Instead, we post short topical videos on YouTube and other web portals with a much different goal in mind: to market to niche audiences and obtain higher search rankings in our areas of expertise.

This approach allows us to connect with individuals who are searching for information about specific diseases and treatments. We're finding that if content has relevance over a period of years, the videos are forwarded, linked, posted to blogs, etc., and our audience and visibility grow accordingly. The videos can be produced and published with little or no incremental costs, which is an attractive option to complement our traditional marketing and public relations strategies.

We currently have more than 212 videos streaming online and a rapidly growing audience: 237,000 views and counting. With each video we can study how many people are viewing over any period of time, from what country or state they come, the viewers' demographics, whether they watched the entire video or just portions, where they rewind or repeat certain sections, and so on. It's a level of audience analysis that is impossible in traditional television or radio advertising, and it comes with no cost.

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