Recently, I was honored to be asked to write an article about social media marketing for Doctor’s Life Magazine. You can learn more about Doctor’s Life Magazine by clicking here.
Also – you can view article as it appears in the magazine by clicking here!
As I thought the information in the article could be useful to you, I am sharing the article below. If, after reading, there is anything that I can help you with – contact me directly: email@example.com or toll free: 866-926-2636.
I hope you enjoy!
Sometimes our patients put off (or are afraid of) a visit to the doctor or dentist’s office. They know they should do it, but they procrastinate for one reason or another. Are you doing the same by putting off your ‘appointment’ with social media?
If you think it’s a passing fad, or may not be relevant to the healthcare field – think again. Here’s a test – think of the top 5 influencers or hospitals out there in your field. Now type in a search for “(Their Name) on Facebook (or Twitter)”. I bet you find almost all of them there, AND I bet that they have a decent following, as well as daily activity on their account. Let’s take that a step further – go and search for your competition on Facebook and see what they’re up to – you may be surprised.
But….how can you market yourself and your practice on social media? How can it help your business? How much time do you need to devote to it? Is your client base on social media?
If you would like answers to these questions, read on!
Channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and even Pinterest can have exponential benefits for your practice, give you the ability to educate your peers and patients, gain trust and approachability, and be positioned as a thought leader in your field.
Social media is a 24/7, worldwide, online, professional cocktail party. To effectively “work the room”, you need to show up to the party with a goal: perhaps of meeting potential referral sources, patients, or other revenue streams. Then proactively introduce yourself to lots of targeted people. You need to approach them with a sincere interest in them, asking them questions – not approaching them with a ‘pitch’ about yourself (because people like to hear about themselves first!)…then keep them engaged, make them laugh, give them something to remember you by. After the party you need to follow up and continue the conversation after the party.
Social media is very much the same – to be effective, you need to know what your goals are. Develop a list keywords and phrases that your potential referral source or patient would type into a search to find you. Then go out and ‘Like’, connect, and follow individuals, companies, or groups that you feel would be of benefit to you (or lead you to a potential client).
Next, start the conversation. Depending on the platform(s) you decide to use – ‘Like’ their page, comment on a post, or feature they have that you truly like. Talk about what they do first. Share a post of theirs on your social media channels, if you feel it would be of benefit to your followers. Be sure to thank or return the favor to anyone that does the same for you. And remember, just like a cocktail party, it doesn’t all have to be business…a cute picture on a Friday, an invitation to an event you may be hosting, or even talk about a community event if you’re posting locally.
It’s SOCIAL Media – so be SOCIAL! Your goal is to continue the conversation offline in order to get them to remember you and your services when they, or anyone they know, may need them.
Use your social media channels to their full extent. Use any applications that may help your use of these platforms easier. For example, link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account so that what you post on one, it will automatically post on the other. Be sure to join the max of 50 groups on LinkedIn and post discussions in each group. If a LinkedIn group isn’t very prolific, leave it and join another, until you get to that “perfect” 50. Follow the people that you respect in your industry on Twitter, follow your ‘competition’ to see what they’re up to – stay ahead of the curve, and dominate your digital presence and recognized as a thought leader in your industry!
Now, where do you start? If you don’t have an account with these social media channels – visit their site and sign up. Claim your name before someone else does. Then optimize your profile – fill it out completely. Next, set up a schedule to do your online marketing consistently. Consistency is the most important action you could do with social media marketing!
In terms of the time it takes you (or your staff) to do the marketing, start with a goal of an twenty minutes a day. Maybe start with Facebook, as people are generally comfortable with how this platform works. It’s best to create a business page on Facebook, rather than use your personal page so that you’ll be able to operate it completely separate from that personal page. Then start getting connected! Post content that is educational, entertaining, and engaging. Ask for ‘Likes’, ask people to share the content you post.
What is content? Social media is PR – plain and simple. It’s not sales. Think of it as you would a billboard, but a billboard with muscle! It’s recommended to have less than 10 words on a billboard, and people spend about 3 seconds whizzing by it on their commute to work, before they start to ignore it (and that’s if they even notice it to begin with). Those with Facebook accounts, on average, spend nearly 8 hours per month on the site, much more than they spend looking at a billboard. Some other key differences are that the messages you post can be changed several times per day, have as many words as necessary, include images, links, your hours and directions to your office. Also, the messages are portable. So if a reader sees something they think would be valuable to someone across the country (or the world) they can share it with the push of a button! You can also get a pulse of what people want to hear about by listening and observing your competition, your peers, and respected industry leaders, and also by asking!
“But my client demographic isn’t on social media”. Wrong! It’s not just Generation X, Y, and Z that use social media! The largest growing users of social media are the 55+ group – the Baby Boomers and many of them are using it for their parents (incidentally called the Silent Generation) to find out more about everything from healthcare to what their peers think…and you know that people like to talk! Social media allows them to praise you, or show you where you may need improvement.
“What if someone says something nasty?” Not to worry, you being active on social media won’t increase any negativity, they’re going to say it anyway. But by being present on social media you’ll be able to see any negativity and address it. Having a presence allows you to spin it to your advantage, rather than just leaving it out there to fester. Also, don’t forget your privacy settings! You have the ability to approve posts before they go live on many of the channels.
Afraid of patient privacy, HIPAA, and other regulatory issues? With a simple disclaimer and common sense approach to your social media policy you’re covered! The Mayo clinic has a simple 12 word social media policy: “Don’t Lie, Don’t Pry, Don’t Cheat, Can’t Delete, Don’t Steal, Don’t Reveal”.
“I don’t have time to do this!” That’s where a social media marketing firm may be of assistance. Spending the time doing it yourself does take you away from what you do best. Having an entry level person do it can be tricky, as it IS your reputation they’re handling. Dedicating a higher level person or marketing manager may take them away from other marketing, and sales opportunities. Although social media works in conjunction with your operations and marketing team, having them do the day-to-day activities may be more costly than outsourcing it.
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