Welcome to part two of our best media series, where we’re arguing that each realm of the digital sphere – earned, owned and paid – are the best for different reasons. Read the other posts in the series on why Earned Media is the Best Media, or why Paid Media is the Best Media or maybe there's another solution for which branch is really the best.

With so much noise around brands, finding your one, true voice that engages your consumers can be difficult. And with chatter coming at you from new channels all the time, you have to figure out how to control the conversation. So let’s make a bold statement that helps simplify the process for creating a compelling digital healthcare identity consumers want to hear from: Owned Media is the Best Media.

Increasingly, consumers are making their healthcare decisions in a way that reflects their buying habits elsewhere. Consumer engagement begins with the first impression, and if you’re not providing incredible user experience across all your assets, you’ll lose to a competitor who will. When a consumer visits your website or patient portal, they’re looking for more than just a catchy design. They want key features, like location information and appointment scheduling, to be highly visible and simple to use. Any digital space where they encounter your brand should be providing relevant content that lets your health system’s personality, specialties and differentiators shine through.

“Owned media has a persistence. It’s always available for return visitors. Ads come and go, and reviews can be good or bad, but your owned media platforms allow space for a longer, deeper and more personal conversation. And there are no restrictions, like for personalization or character count, as there are on third-party channels.” – Kyra Hagan, General Manager, Digital Marketing Cloud and Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing for Influence Health

To figure out how to dominate your owned media assets, you first need to define what they are. Owned media can include: your website or websites, your mobile sites (or hopefully the mobile-optimized versions of your websites), social media landing pages, blog sites and patient and physician portals. Long gone are the days when standing up a website was enough to generate interest in your business. Consumers today are engaging in new ways with brands they like – retweeting the latest health fact you shared, scheduling an appointment through your website and more. Providing valuable content that isn’t a sales pitch across all your channels builds trust. On Twitter, for example, some brands are creating multiple accounts to engage in different conversations with different audiences. The strategy provides clear communication lines for addressing problems, sparking conversations and sharing announcements like signing on a new specialty physician. And when your assets make healthcare transactions like paying bills simpler, your consumers stay more engaged.

“The more owned media you have, the greater opportunity to influence in the digital sphere. The web is not just a communication channel – it’s access to healthcare information, self-service opportunities for facilitating medical decisions and a transactional vehicle for completing steps along the healthcare journey.” – Hagan

With the disrupting advent of the Internet of Things (IoT or how devices like refrigerators and smartwatches are now connected to and communicating via the internet), your owned media options are expanding – beyond even what we know is capable today. And as your owned asset possibilities grow, you have amazing opportunity to extend your brand reach, making your brand portable. You can join and influence the conversation just about anywhere. But you have to be smart about organizing your content in a way that’s easily replicable across a variety of media.

How Do I Get There?

Make your owned media the best it can be with three simple steps:

1) Create findability. Start with responsive, mobile-optimized websites to provide great user experience no matter where your consumers meet you and so you don’t have to reproduce work multiple times. Make sure your properties are following SEO best practices too , so it’s easy for consumers to land on your brand’s pages when they search for you and your services. Insure you’re providing and gathering quality data. Provide quality data by reviewing your assets continually for broken links and incorrect listings and making space for star ratings for providers on our own pages, and gather quality data from visitors to help identify prospects for care opportunities.

2) Create engaging, relevant, original content. Content provides the opportunity to present a unified brand voice and shares the stories you want to tell. You don’t have to have a big budget or a big team to write relevant material that will draw your audience in, on whichever channel they prefer, and that sets your organization apart in a positive way.

3) Create transactional features. Consumers want to be able to take care of business online, so make sure your assets support great experiences around bill paying, scheduling appointments, getting lab results and participating in any other services you offer offline.

If you need help realizing your owned media potential, Influence Health offers technology including a powerful, flexible, customizable content management solution that goes beyond traditional website creation, SEO services to help craft the most visible assets and transactional platforms to help engage and stratify your consumers.

Once you’ve implemented these three steps, congratulations! You’re providing great owned media. But in a complex world of digital engagement, is that all there is? Next, we’ll argue that paid media is really the best way to engage consumers. Stay tuned.

And to learn more about the power and future of owned media, read 3 Critical Steps to Become and Remain Relevant on the Web.