Many practices jump onto Twitter, Facebook or whatever the latest social media platform may be and end up with something that amounts to nothing more than an ad for their business that’s updated on occasion. While you can (and should!) use these sites to expand your brand’s reach by highlighting services and promotions, you have to remember the “social” aspect of the platform you’re using.
Twitter and Facebook are more than just billboards for your business: they’re a chance to have a conversation with your patients, both potential and current. Using these platforms in this way can expand your brand’s reach in a way that advertising can’t.
Until recently, the importance of social media marketing and participation has been frequently overlooked by medical practitioners and small practices in general and instead focused on by traditional businesses. While privacy laws exist that can make information sharing difficult, instead of the concern, social media marketing should be a priority.
It’s been proven that Internet users spend the majority of the online time on social networks. They’re involved in groups, sharing their daily happenings and looking for useful information. Most importantly though, especially to those involved in the medical field, is that these users are looking to connect. They want to build relationships online; in many cases this happens before a real-life meeting even takes place.
When it comes to patients and potential patients, this is truer than ever. Because of insurance options and changes, patients have more control and choices when it comes to selecting medical professionals to oversee their care. They want to find practitioners who show that they care, who take the time to get to know them on a personal level and who make an effort to be helpful. This is where a social media presence and strategy come into play.
Where do you start? Check out a few tips below.
Find the Right Network
Because of the rise in the popularity of social networks as a whole, networks have arisen that focus on a variety of media: video, photos, status updates and more. While an Instagram account may be beneficial for a fashion designer, it’s probably not going to help a medical professional connect with patients.
As a starting point, medical providers should focus on Facebook and YouTube. By taking the time to build a presence on Facebook, patients are able to view how-to’s, testimonials, news, ask questions and get to know the providers. It’s an excellent network to build a multi-faceted social media page.
YouTube has also proven beneficial for medical providers. By posting videos, patients can get a feel for the personality of the doctors and learn more about the services that they provide. Remember, these videos can also be shared on Facebook.
Focus on Content
Just as important as selecting the right network is sharing the right content. Medical providers should think about the questions they’re asked, the cases they see on a regular basis and news pertaining to issues related to their specialty.
Content should be created and shared on a regular basis. This allows the practice to become an information source and to focus on the fact that patient education is an important, integral part of their operations.
While content must be relevant, engaging and strong, it should also be regular. By taking the time to make social media content a priority, medical practices can see an increased online engagement level over time.
Give Patients a Reason to Participate
Whatever methods a small medical practice chooses when starting a social media initiative, allowing patients to participate gives them the opportunity to feel valued without even having an appointment. Feeling a sense of connection is an integral part of any business relationship, a doctor to patient relationship is no different.
About Wendy Hamel
As co-founder of Med-Marketers, and serving as Director of Client Programs, Wendy is directly responsible for guiding creative strategy and overall execution on client services for the company. Wendy has over 15 years of marketing and management experience serving technology, healthcare and retail. Prior to Med-Marketers, Wendy was the Director of Marketing at RAID, Inc. where she was instrumental in developing brand awareness and business development programs that helped the company transition into new markets and exceed vertical revenue goals. For the last 5 years, Wendy’s direct focus has been practice consulting and strategic marketing for orthodontists, orthopedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, dentists and primary care physicians within the Greater Boston area.
Her areas of expertise include patient file development, field marketing, online marketing, public relations, social media strategy, web design, SEO and collateral design.