Here at RealSelf, we talk a lot about how answering online questions from aesthetic consumers is a great marketing tool. It can, for example, help expose your practice to patients far beyond your local market and even provide “SEO juice” that can boost your position in search results.
Sometimes it does even more.
Case in point: Denver-based facial plastic surgeon Stephen Weber, MD, FACS, who confirmed the connective power of the Internet when he answered a question from Clement Kihitula, a Tanzanian man hoping to get a large keloid removed from his neck.
“Am from poor family in Tanzania East Africa where can’t afford treatment abroad,” Kihitula posted. “How can I get assistance?”
As it turns out, Weber was heading to Tanzania a month later, as he has for several years, to participate in a medical mission. Meeting Kihitula at the Singida Regional Hospital, he performed surgery on his keloid at no cost.
Clearly, Weber didn’t answer Kihitula’s question to expand his practice or boost his search rank (or bottom line) but the fact that he did provides incontrovertible proof of the connective tissue that can develop when doctors engage with the online aesthetic community. And the people who ask the questions aren’t the only ones who benefit.
I think I get more out of these trips than I give, Weber told his hometown paper after a previous trip. The only hard part is we’re there for a couple of weeks and we leave.
And yet, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that Weber and Kihitula’s story is proof positive that geographic separation doesn’t have to be an impediment to making the connections that build trust between potential patients and the doctors who can help them.
As Weber told Kihitula before his surgery,
The interesting thing to me was that when I met you [for the first time at the hospital], I walked up and you were on the Internet, surfing my website. I’ve never seen that before. We’re seeing that more and more with better connectivity to the Internet. You have the same experience that our patients do at home, which is really exciting.
It may be a big, old, crazy world out there but the Internet is making it smaller at the same time.