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Social Media Links

In today’s constantly-connected world, there’s no escaping social media. Companies are using social media to reach a new audience of consumers, schools are creating Twitter and Facebook accounts to connect with students and their families, and entertainment companies use social media to reward regular views of TV shows and movie fans. Social media is also being used by traditional media to enhance print publications and television shows.

But does all of this connectivity add up to any real benefit for the user? Does social media integration make a person more inclined to use online services—shopping, education and customer service— in place of more conventional options?  While people make decisions based on a whole host of factors, studies show that social media can influence more than just the way people communicate; social media can have a tangible impact on what people choose to buy, as well as levels of political and social engagement. Social media is affecting the way people communicate, but it’s also affecting the way people live their lives.

Education

Colleges and universities were among the first institutions to introduce online elements like e-mail and websites to their students, faculty and staff. But as social media becomes an important tool for students and teachers alike, Facebook and Twitter are enhancing or even replacing some of the messaging and online collaborative programs from just a few years ago. The rise of online education has been both encouraged and supported by social media: most major colleges and universities now offer courses online, and others offer entire programs online for returning adults or students who want to finish a degree without traveling to a campus.

And online education is also becoming a useful tool for K-12 teachers and students— programs like Skype that connect students from different areas of the country or the world, online apps like Google Earth that gives students tours of far-flung locations, and programs like Grockit that help kids study for tests are all changing the educational landscape.

Social awareness and consumers

You might not think that shopping is an important part of life, but social media is helping consumers make informed decisions about what they buy and why. Whether it’s learning about the latest smartphone or how buying local can affect your town’s economy, social media sites are encouraging people to learn more about what and how they consume products.

Of course, marketing firms and companies have recognized that social media can influence buying decisions, but activists and non-profit organizations have also realized that providing consumers with information can affect how people view their regular purchases. And sites like Facebook have made it possible for people to learn more about various causes, and how they can contribute to improving society. Organizations like Feeding America and the Red Cross are using social media to make it easy for people to donate and offer other types of support. By making it easy for regular people to contribute to charities and other causes, people are becoming more politically and socially active—and small actions by millions of people can combine to create a larger impact.

The links that social media have helped create go far beyond messages to friends, family and classmates. The benefits to users can range from the minor to the miraculous—and as social media becomes a part of everyday life, it will change the way we interact with the world.

Blogging is Doing

Search engines are used by billions of people every day, helping them find products to buy, stores to buy them from, information on anything imaginable or the directions to their grandmother’s house. Because search engines are such a huge part of consumers’ lives, they have become a huge part of how companies do business. Users are often unaware of the existence of businesses because they don’t show up on the first page of search results, creating the need for business to employ search engine optimization (SEO) in order to gain a wider audience and generate profitable conversions.

Having an official blog is an effective method of gaining rank in various search engines, particularly since Google’s Panda update was rolled out, favoring pages with high quality content over weak, shallow pages. As part of both a social media marketing campaign and a service being provided to customers, a well-maintained, attractive blog featuring informative, useful content can provide tremendous support for a business.

By emphasizing valuable content and displaying the knowledge of the company’s employees in their field, a corporate blog can build relationships with customers while gaining the positive attention of Google and Bing. Integrating the blog into social networking initiatives and making it part of a cohesive brand will increase the likelihood of being ranked highly in search results and of increasing customer retention and brand awareness.

Content is King

Google’s Panda update made it clear that the search engine values quality content over anything else, particularly the overuse of keywords. While websites could formerly get away with having long pages of machine-generated, mostly incoherent text that included repetitive uses of the same keywords, the method for gaining ground in the post-Panda world revolves around well-written pieces that match the context of the site. By writing content with customers and potential customers in mind, businesses can satisfy both their intended audience and search engine bots.

Show What You Know

In addition to providing well-written, pertinent information on their blogs, companies should provide useful information for consumers. Blogs should not be used to advertise a company’s products (though a short post announcing a new product is okay) but should instead educate customers on frequently misunderstood aspects of their business or field. For example, a heating and air conditioning repair company could feature blog posts concerning tips for homeowners to keep their HVAC systems running efficiently or posts describing the various heating and cooling options available to homeowners, along with their strengths and weaknesses. By providing valuable information to consumers, businesses have an easier time maintaining brand awareness with potential customers and being seen as leaders in their field.

Get the Word Out

Every blog post should be accompanied by social buttons that will allow readers to share the post with their friends and colleagues on the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Integrating the company blog with other social platforms can increase the visibility of each post–and the blog as a whole–to both consumers and search engines. By keeping the user experience integrated and as seamless as possible among the various social platforms and the company’s website, users will be able to recognize the company and its brand more readily and search engines will notice the uniformity and rank the site more highly.

Jobs Loss for Social Media

The recent death of Steve Jobs reminds us that, while he didn’t have a direct impact on current social media, Jobs did help create the environment for social media to flourish. With products like iTunes and the rise of podcasts in the early 2000’s, Apple put an emphasis on sharing and creating original content before social media sites became popular. And with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple made mobile computing easy and encouraged users to share more of their lives through social media.

Apple—and the world of technology at large—finds itself at a crossroads. Will the loss of Apple’s leader impede their ability to offer more and better products? And, if there is a slowdown in innovation at Apple, will this have a similar affect in how people use social media?

The Medium is the Message

Apple has yet to create a social media platform of their own, but that’s because they don’t have to. Their hardware and other products were built to inspire creativity in the individual and to allow users to take control of their computer experience. Apple’s focus on their products has meant that their message—thinking differently—is carried to every Apple user.

For areas like education, this means that iPods, Macbooks and iPads used in the classroom can inspire new techniques and resources for teaching and learning. From podcasting to interactive iPad apps, Apple gives both teachers and students a chance to explore collaborative learning, online school programs, and interactive educational technology. Social media is becoming a larger influence in education right now—and Apple helped facilitate that new relationship.

The Next Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs influenced more than just Apple: with Pixar, he helped create a new genre of animation, and with the short-lived NeXT, Jobs and his company produced the first web servers. It’shard to imagine that there will be another innovator with talents as diverse as Jobs’.

Still, if something has to carry on Jobs’ legacy of innovation, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook come close: with more than 800 million users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social media network. What Jobs did with hardware, Zuckerberg is doing with the Internet: giving millions of users a chance to connect to each other, to share activities and to exchange ideas. Facebook’s latest developments include the integration of apps that allow users to do everything from help each other with homework to find and share new recipes. By creating an open online environment that pushes people to share more, Facebook is changing the nature of the Internet. And with just five years online, the potential for Facebook is boundless.

The death of Steve Jobs has already had an impact on the tech world, but the innovation of other minds—both at the helm of companies and everyday end users—will continue to find new and original ways to advance technology. Jobs’ legacy is that he helped give each person with a computer the power to make a mark on the world. With Apple’s products and the inspiration of its users, that power will continue to grow.

5 Rules You Should Break When Blogging for Business

Blog with stars shooting off the word BlogA common question entrepreneurs ask is, “Should I blog?” If you have a business, it’s worth your while to do so.  Why? Consider this: “Companies that blog generate 55 percent more visitor traffic.” So say the authors of From Prospect to Evangelist – Optimizing Relationships with Social Media, a free e-book by HubSpot (a company that creates software and gives out marketing information for businesses).  Producing great content, drawing attention through relevant keywords and attracting a community of followers through important topics are all ways to generate traffic. And this traffic can then be diverted to your website and your business.

You may be just starting out, or a veteran blogger, but if you’re overwhelmed and confused by all the “shoulds” out there, here are 5 rules you should be breaking when it comes to blogging for your business:

1. Blog only what you know. They say the same thing about writing. But there’s a big flaw in this. You’re not just limiting what you can write, but your potential for learning as well. Sure, write about what you know, but also leave space for topics you are not familiar with. Do the research and you will eventually increase your expertise in other areas of your professional life. You don’t need years of experience in a subject to write about it. You need passion, good research skills and interest in the topic.

2. Pretend everything is okay. It’s all too tempting to create a perfect persona online. But perfection can create boredom in blogging and an inauthentic representation of your work. Say, for example, you made a mistake in a blog post. You may have quoted the wrong person, added the wrong link, misspelled a word. If your readers and potential customers are commenting about it and you don’t acknowledge your mistake, that’s an elephant in the virtual room. It puts distance between you and your future customers. To be successful in business you need to create trust. Be honest and show them you’re not perfect. Present yourself as human and you will establish better relationships with your prospects and customers.

3. All your posts must be planned. It’s great to have a row of posts lined up when you go on vacation or in case you get sick. Consistency is key to getting an established set of readers to your blog. But to be successful you don’t always have to have your posts planned. Say you’ve got a great new product you want to share with your customers or a marketing strategy you’ve just learned. Spontaneous posts keep your readers on their toes. They’ll never know when something new or exciting may show up on your blog and they will keep coming back for more.

4. Your posts should not be too short, nor too long. I think breaking up your blog with short and long posts makes for an interesting read. There is no specific word count that will make your blog more popular than others. It is the content, not the length that will draw readers. Remember that the next time you want to post a 300-word post and feel the need to double it before it’s published. For more information, read Problogger’s take on post length

5. To have a successful blog, you must continuously plug your business. We all know you’re blogging to grow your business. But writing your latest press release or touting your product in every post will scare away your readers and potential customers faster than the plague. The most important thing you can do when blogging for your business is to create a community of readers. This means welcoming and answering comments, visiting other blogs, commenting on their posts, creating an email signature with your website and putting your blog on your business card. You want to do everything to garner potential readers to your site and create interesting, engaging posts to keep them there.

These are just a handful of rule-breaking tips. Do you have your own? Share them in the comments below.


Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a professional freelance writer. Not only does she write for other people, but she writes for herself as well.  She maintains two blogs. One is for writers and taking your writing to the next level. The other is a blog that is designed to inspire.  Her background in English and Psychology give Brandi a great voice, inspiring others to write, and giving insight into the world of writers.

Read her self-titled blog: Brandi Ann Uyemura: Guide from a conscious writer

Read: The Inspiring Bee

Follow her on Twitter @2inspired

Facebook’s New Platform & Social Signals as Search Engine Ranking

Facebook is the world’s second largest advertising network, second only to Google, in terms of users, scale and global influence. In September, Mark Zuckerberg gave the keynote at F8, an annual conference about all things Facebook. Woven into the many topics, was the announcement of Facebook’s work with the Open Graph protocol and HTML5, a combination which has led to the largest overhaul of Facebook’s user interface to date.

Facebook, the world’s premier social cloud, is ushering in new ways of interaction with the web. The ascension of tablet, smartphones and other mobile web devices, has necessitated a shift towards cloud computing and cloud computing a shift we will likely remain in for the forseeable future.

Open Graph allows for a “frictionless experience”, deeply integrating users’ web activity with their Timelines, creating a more holistic representation of one’s digital self. The system is set up such that users opt-in for a service – Spotify is a popular example, as is Hulu – and once that user opts in, that service then has access to all the information stored on Facebook. These social signals will revolutionize the world of search ranking. The folks at SEOmoz explain:

The data you get from Facebook is available at load time and as such you can use it to tailor the experience directly to the user. You can get quite granular with this approach once you’ve successfully identified key characteristics of your personas. Keep in mind that you’re not limited to just their demographic information but their likes, interests, status updates, etc. And while this is outside of my programming ability there are some very smart people putting together algorithms to that allow you to map this type of data to your user to determine how closely they fit your persona. Google has some machine learning APIs that can aid in these determinations.

Will open graph allow iPhone mobile apps to be built into profile?

Recent updates to Facebook’s mobile application indicate that the changes are unified, tying your mobile activity into the fold. This changes the iPhone application development game, allowing for a window into the consumer’s habits and more accurate record of activity executed on mobile devices.

While the Open Graph protocol is set up to make Facebook the desktop hub of the Internet, it’s hard to say whether the mobile infrastructure will be possible. Changes in mobile web that the new iPhone may usher in, will possibly open new doors to technology that better analyzes web activity in order for marketers to target users within a few standard deviations. In order for Open Graph the have the same role as mobile Internet hub, this thype of application development will have to advance beyond the point it is now, although changes have already been implemented to current versions of Facebook Mobile.

Right now 95% of mobile search goes through Google. How might this change?

Google has overwhelming control over mobile search, something to the tune of 97-percent. If Open Graph integrates web activity into the cohesive framework of Facebook, it may be possible for Facebook to deliver information users search for on the Internet. It’s a long shot, to be sure. Google is number one for a reason. Other companies specializing in Search have had a hard time bucking Google from the Ivory Tower of Search Deities. However, that’s not what Facebook is trying to do.

Facebook is trying to create a local ecosystem, on desktops and mobile web through which people interact with the Internet. Obviously no one is tied to using Facebook for watching Hulu, or playing songs in Spotify, but the more people opt-in for that kind of integration, the more information they are making available for the use of marketers. There will undoubtedly be a move to incentivize this integration and generate the opt-in.

This is all part of the evolution of personal technology. Moves from touch notebooks, to, cloud computing, and the migration from offline to online file storage.

Competitive Advantage

Porter’s Five Force Model is still an efficient, tried and true method of assessing the profitability and competitiveness of a market.

Developed in 1979 by Michael E. Porter of the Harvard University School of Business, the model allows companies to better understand their respective markets.

These types of ideas, once approved and registered by a patent litigation attorney, can prove to be a sustainable way to gain and maintain a competitive advantage over other companies in the same market.

A competitive advantage is achieved when a company’s average profits are higher than that of its rivals within the same industry. Porter’s Five Force Model analyzes industries and demonstrates how to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

1)       Entry of New Competitors

Your company probably cannot ward off newcomers. There are other businesses that are going to pop up with the same idea. They may be better or they may be worse, but either way your business will have the advantage of time.

Customers are loyal to their favorite brand. If you’re established as the self-proclaimed leader of leftover food storage, people will recognize your legitimacy (i.e. Tupperware).

2)       Substitute Goods and Services

Knowing the possibilities of goods and services that might replace yours could put you ahead of the competition. If you can anticipate what new products and services might be on the market, you can begin to think of ways to counter the competition.

For instance, Blockbuster’s goods and services were essentially substituted by Netflix and Redbox. They have countered accordingly by offering online rental delivery and rental kiosks, but thinking ahead and anticipating the future could have saved them from near bankruptcy.

3)       Bargaining Power of Buyers

Customers have a lot of say in whether or not your company succeeds. If they don’t like your goods, they’ll find something better; if they don’t like your service, they’ll find someone better. If they don’t want to pay what you’re charging, they can probably find it for cheaper elsewhere.

Unless you’re providing something that absolutely must be had, such as insulin or other medication, buyers will either stop using the product or find a better alternative. Keeping your customers satisfied and staying up on the competition can help your business build a solid following of brand-loyal buyers.

4)       Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Gas stations are, for the most part, largely at the mercy of the bargaining power of their suppliers. They are reliant on the oil industry and the refinement process to supply them with a product they can then sell to others.

Your company may not rely as heavily on supplier, but you depend on a third party for labor, raw materials, resources and possibly even knowledge. Suppliers can increase costs if there are no viable substitutes, employees can form labor unions or offer competitive services. Keep your eyes open and stay up to date with any changes. Suppliers have a high level of bargaining power and without them your company won’t be in business.

5)       The Intensity of Competition and Rivalry

Rivalry and competition are inevitable. Your goods and services most likely have a substitute and it’s only a matter of time until those alternatives are on the market.

The degree of rivalry can vary depending on the market and its circumstances. Industry concentration, product differences, diversity of rivals and industry growth are factors in the level of rivalry within a market. Brands with well-established identities also drive up the competition in a market as they both fight for the number one spot. The diversity of the rivaling companies contributes to the competition as well. The more similar the companies are, the higher the level of rivalry.

However, qualities such as innovation and expertise can never be stolen or copied. Your knowledge of a particular field are all your own. Understanding how to use Porter’s Five Force Model to assess the market and knowing how to best use your unique skills to stay ahead is an invaluable resource in your success.

Everyone who is, or has been, in business knows of the Five Force Model.  The challenge in today’s economy is that it seems to be more important than ever.  Gone are the days when companies can guess at which direction to go.  For some firms, the difference between vetting the right choices to avoid the wrong path is the difference between life and death.

 

 

 

Catalyst

With the American economy mired in the mud and fears of a double-dip recession looming, the professional world, it seems, has stagnated.  These can be worrisome times for businesses, as comparisons to the Great Depression are being regularly drawn.  However, a lot has changed since the last time this country has seen such financial turmoil, so entrepreneurs have more options available to them as they navigate the morass and lead the way into the future.  With fewer employees, the time it takes for those retained to do specific jobs must be balanced with the expense of keeping them on staff.  Thankfully, there are many tools which are available that can help this idea become practical.

Internally, software development has allowed businesses to streamline and increase productivity exponentially.  Doctors’ offices are now able to use medical billing software from companies like Kareo, freeing up office staff for more important tasks.  On a much smaller scale, improvements with small business accounting in programs like Quickbooks and Peachtree almost successfully automate the financial process.  There are also companies that can remotely manage your payroll, help you set up your company’s 401k, and other services.  In choosing these things, the company must (again) balance the expense and needs against such investments.

Externally, one of the most important innovations to date is the emergence of various social media outlets.  Businesses now have the ability to advertise their services in a forum where many different pairs of eyes can see, and consumers have the ability to show their like or dislike of businesses, services, even individual employees. With these new ways to externally promote and streamline your business, customer traffic can increase, and customer service can be refined.  In the past, most marketing was the result of many months and thousands (or millions) of dollars invested in make sure the product or service would be accepted by the public.  Now, in the world of viral videos and SEO, those results come in real time, and are measure through actual results of both use and opinion.

In addition to the external and internal, there is the “gray area” which exists in the form of apps and other resources available to the owner.  Adding to this smorgasbord are various phone apps, many of which are free.  Whereas cell phones used to be a novelty, most people have one now, and use them for far more than just making and receiving phone calls.  Foursquare, for example, is a free app that allows users to let their friends know where they are, and what is going on there.  If you happened to be the business that is being discussed, this will not only bring more people to your door, but it will also tell you what is noteworthy to your customers.

The thing to remember in your business is that there have been many who came before you, who felt the same apprehension and doubt that you are likely feeling now, as you watch news reports and listen to accounts of Wall Street.  But fear not!  Through innovation and maximum usage of the resources that are available to you, you can maximize your chances of success and lead your business into the future.  Whether that success is aided by medical billing software, or a simple points system generated by a social media outlet, is entirely up to your company.  The promoter which pulls your company to the next level may be something as simple as the organic nature of social media, or the many different adjustments made both internally and externally.

Social Score: Measure your Impact in Social Media

 

Stacked Coins

How do you measure up in Social Media?

Influence, engagement and reach are words often tossed around in social media, but how are these elements measured and assigned value? The average social media user definitely influences and engages with their followers, and although the audience might be small, your reach can extend beyond your social network.

Measuring influence, engagement and reach can be difficult, but these criteria all factor in to a user’s overall social media value score.

So how do you measure up? There are many quick ways to see how your social media use compares to others on the general index:

Follower counts:

You can get a quick read on your social impact simply by looking at the number of followers you have on any of your accounts. Assuming you are practicing white hat audience building (ie: not paying for followers or using follow-back apps that tend to falsely inflate your numbers) your follower count is an excellent indication of just how many people value your input on social media. This is also a rough gauge of your reach, as your followers constitute your direct audience and often your most easily influenced contacts.

Total RTs, @ mentions or posts:

Another quick gauge of your audience impact is the number of times your information is shared, or someone shares information with you. A glance at your Twitter RTs and @ mentions will tell you how influential you are among your network, Similarly, your Facebook wall will often give you a good sense of how engaged your network is with your posts or your profile. Most social networks are net up to provide notifications to help you monitor your pokes, messages, comments, likes and mentions. Check out your notification settings to see what information might help you measure your engagement.

Third Party ‘Scores’:

Your daily social media activity and data can also be summarized by companies like Klout and Peerindex, who calculate and assign you a score which reflects your social capital. The upside of these services is that they are free (at least at a basic level) and they collect data from multiple social media profiles automatically. On Klout, for example you can connect not only Twitter and Facebook, but now YouTube, LinkedIn, foursquare, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogger and Last.fm accounts to factor in to your score. Peerindex is more limited, but offers Quora integration.

Another popular ‘tool’ is EmpireAve, which works like a stock index of social media users. The site works like a large monopoly game, and makes it fun to invest in and support others. Your value on the index is both a factor of your social media activity and your use of Empire Avenue; not a true social score, but an excellent means of comparison. If you are an avid social media user, these tools are the easiest way to gauge your overall influence; however you can also glean insight on your topics of influence, the users you influence most, and the users who influence you!

Good old Google:

Last but definitely not least, is the good old Google gauge. Google has set the bar for tracking data on the web, with rich analytics and evolving algorithms that try to fairly sort, rank and categorize information. Social data is no different, and a quick Google search can give you an idea of how prominent your social presence really is. When Google reintegrates real-time searches (temporarily turned off, at the moment) you’ll also be able to see your reach, impact and influence in real-time; not to mention the Google+ project which aims to eventually index and assign rankings to all social data on the web.

 

Whichever means your choose to apply when measuring your social influence, engagement and reach, remember that the value is subjective; don’t be discouraged by what you perceive as a low score. Set goals around increasing your scores and monitor them carefully to discover how your social influence, engagement and reach truly measure up.

 

Mom and Pop are Back?

Thanks to the eCommerce and social media, mom-and-pop businesses can compete effectively alongside multinational corporations on equal footing. Smaller, more agile companies may even have the advantage in some cases. In fact, users may not be able to tell if a site they visit is run by a guy in a hut or a board of directors in an office tower. Customers who use websites to conduct their business, however, often find that small businesses offer them the personal service and attention to detail they thought was no longer available.

With point-and-click website-building software and other advances on the side of the little guy, ecommerce sites built by small organizations look professional and include many of the same design elements as those that were once available only to companies with massive information technology budgets.  The Internet serves as a leveler, putting small businesses on par with big companies. In some industries, upstarts achieve great success.

Consider these two examples

In the case of bookselling, being a decades-old corporation may not have any advantages at all. The Borders chain of retail stores closed its doors after no buyer could be found to take over the failing company. Meanwhile, Amazon has grown into a bookselling powerhouse by using a web-only model and embracing changes in the industry like the move to ebooks. It should be noted that Borders accidentally positioned its online store against its retail outlets in a “perfect storm” of bad planning.  In addition to the advent of the ebook, Half-Price Books has dominated the publishing spectrum by droning out the best-sellers at 40% of what Borders was charging.

Amazon’s forward-looking model allowed the company to persevere through the economic downturn of recent years while the less flexible business model at Borders is part of the reason the chain failed.  This is obvious of course, given that Amazon has NO retail stores and relies primarily on eCommerce and social media.  As Borders closes its final doors, Amazon sits strong with a $195.93 stock price and continuous growth on its horizon.

The success of Amazon and failure of Borders also proves that customers do not necessarily want to shop in person when transactions can be completed easily on the web.  From this author’s experience, most the time spent in Borders was to browse the new titles and then order them from Amazon given the retail price was about 50% more.  It would have seemed that Borders might have picked up on this and established a cover charge.

On the opposite side of the product spectrum, smaller companies like Blue Sun Properties are proving that customers reward well-built, easy-to-navigate websites with their business.  A user can go through this site and shop for Panama City Beach condos from their own home, whether that is in Ohio or Washington State.  Family attractions surrounding that area such as Shipwreck Water Park and Barnacle Bay only add value to the experience; given the site itself is geared toward families.  This convenience is in direct competition with the resort cities of Destin and Cancun, who offer the “all-inclusive” rates and packages.  With eCommerce, this organization can match itself against such giants while emphasizing its message.

Whether buying a book or booking a vacation condo, customers are proving they prefer to work with companies that offer simple online shopping experiences, whether the companies behind those experiences are large or small.  As a result, the days of the Mom-and-Pop shop may be on the rise.

Medical Clicks

Social Media DoctorsDoctors have a variety of new technology at their fingertips they can use to make their lives and those of their patients easier. Most of this technology is affiliated with actual treatment, but there are other aspects of the doctor-patient relationship that have been aided, at least in part, by new advances. Email, social media and even medical software have helped reduce stress on both doctor and patient and facilitate easier, more effective communication. However, if those in the medical field aren’t careful with how they employ these new technologies, there could be some severe legal ramifications. They are fantastic tools, but they must be understood fully and used responsibly.

Email

Many doctors are leery of using email to communicate with patients, either because of security concerns or the fact that they’re not often reimbursed for their time spent emailing patients, but it can be an invaluable aspect of communicating with their patients. Emails pertaining to prescription refills, diagnoses or anything else related to a patient’s health become part of their medical record and must be in compliance with the rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act  Email communication can easily take the place of visits for prescription renewals, lab results or symptom updates, allowing doctors and patients to save time.

Social Media

The explosive growth of services like Twitter, Facebook and various blogging sites has produced an environment conducive to connecting and sharing information with large groups of people, particularly professionals. Those in the medical field could definitely benefit from the increased connectivity of the Internet by engaging with one another, patients, potential clients and medical supply companies. By blogging doctors can share their knowledge and foster confidence in their services. Networking is an important part of any profession; services like Twitter and Facebook make it easy for doctors to stay in touch with their favorite medical companies, other doctors and to advertise their services to potential clients.

Medical Software

It may seem like a small thing, but any technology, medical software software- or hardware-based, that can aid a doctor’s office in streamlining administrative chores will have a huge benefit for both the practice and the patient. By spending less time on administrative tasks, doctors and their staff can focus on providing more patient care, allowing them to either spend more time with each patient or, more likely, see more patients. Further, using software for their administrative tasks helps reduce human error, reducing patient satisfaction and reducing administrative costs.

Technological developments always mean changes, especially in medicine, where new treatments are tested every day. These changes even extend to the ways doctors contact their patients, advertise to potential clients and handle their billing services. So long as they keep client information and medical advice out of the information they share, these tools can benefit the patient, doctor and the doctor’s practice or hospital by helping doctors take control of their online presence. By keeping the billing process simple, new and established practices can focus less on paperwork and more on patient interaction and satisfaction. By learning the proper uses of new technologies and engaging them responsibly, doctors can bring huge benefits to their community and to the Internet at large.