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Why You Should Be On Social Media

Are you one of those doctors who thinks social media is not appropriate?

Well, it’s time to rethink that point of view. Nearly 90% of older adults have used social media to seek and share health information. For your practice to grow, it needs to have a strong presence on social media platforms for your existing —  and prospective — patients to use daily.  

Yes, patients are seeking health information in surprising ways, including social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. But no, you are not expected to be Kardashian to effectively use social media to grow your practice. 

When you use it correctly, social media makes a powerful source of new patients vs. a website alone.

Here are some tips on how to burnish your credentials and become a social media success story.

Why You Should Use Social Media to Grow Your Medical Practice:

Compared to a website, social media has a lot of great benefits.

Websites are like home construction: expensive and time consuming, but meant to make a brand statement that will last a “lifetime” (five years in Internet time).

Social media tends to be a party: fun, friends, family, gossip, and other shiny, glittering objects. 

Websites are a destination. Patients arrive at your website typically after they do their research on the web. It is the front door to your business and, increasingly, your entire financial office.

Social media is the place people discover you before they visit your website.

Here are three reason why social media should be part of your marketing strategy:

First, there is a built-in audience of thousands of patients that potentially can look for your content. Essentially free traffic. No need to bother with complicated SEO or expensive web advertising. 

Second, social media content is simple and easy to produce, immediate and authentic. When it is done right, it is irresistible, like snack food. Your goal is quick, easy morsels of content that bring people back for a second helping…are content they want to share with friends.

Finally, social media has a very low entry barrier. Anyone can become a social media influencer in less than 30 minutes.

The problem, of course, is that anyone can become a social media influencer. But it takes a good strategy + months of diligent posting, creativity and involvement to become a good social media influencer.

Creating a Social Media Strategy: Content & Execution

What sort of stories can you tell?

To be effective at social media, you need to be an effective storyteller with a flare to share.

  • Do you perform procedures that readily show visual results? Orthodontists, cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists definitely have a vast library of compelling before and after images.
  • Do you help patients with chronic illnesses: pain management doctors, psychologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists should have a following of patients who may want to share stories of lives proved.
  • Are you an interventionist with dramatic stories of life-saving diagnosis, second opinions, complex surgeries.

Not every post needs to discuss a medical case or treatment. Patients also like content that depicts what getting care at your practice is really like. Share team photos introducing staff and their background to formulate an inviting environment to patients. 

Create content that is relevant and topical for your audience. In this post-pandemic world, it can be sharing a short video on the proper way to wash your hands or put on and remove PPE.

Creating a social media strategy takes some planning. Before starting on social media, ask yourself: ‘how can I make content people find interesting/useful, and want to share?’

Social media expert from Vancouver, Sunny Lenarduzzi, emphasizes the importance of planning on social media. She helps both entrepreneurs and corporations like Hootsuite create impact and improve their presence with online video. 

Lack of planning “…is one of the most significant time wasters when it comes to social media marketing,” said Lenarduzzi. 

According to Lenarduzzi, a year-long campaign requires hundreds of posts, a mix of content and photos. She recommends breaking down your content into different categories to ensure you are not posting the same content continuously. Across all social media platforms, businesses should be posting at least 5 times a week. This is a lot of content to keep track of, so the key to your sanity and keeping your social media organized is a content calendar. It can be as simple as an excel document, broken down by each day, the respective copy and image, or automated platforms such as Hootsuite or Missinglettr that manages all social platforms in one convenient place.   

The glue sticking everything together is keeping your facts accurate. The internet is home to a plethora of fake news. You are your patient’s source of truth in a world driven by fear and confusion. Become that trusted source of information and you will keep a patient for life. 

Reopening? Get a white paper with 25 post-COVID recovery tips for your practice.

    The Dangers of Oversharing 

    Sharing is the nature of social media. But sharing too much information…or too much content…is counterproductive.

    Of course, HIPAA compliance is the primary consideration for your social media activities. 

    We recommend the physician’s guide to social media by the American College of Physicians, and this social media guide by Federation of State Medical Boards. Increased social media posting is a good way to keep your reputation visible and tacitly invite your patients to voice their opinion along with others. 

    An obvious rule is to never mention specific patients while discussing treatments, conditions, and research. The goal here is to acquire patients, not lawsuits or fines. Be sure your staff is highly attuned to this real potential issue. 

    You can further avoid HIPAA violations by delegating access to only the most responsible members of your staff…perhaps only to yourself.  

    Oversharing also means sharing too much content length. I know this may be a shocking thought: doctors, occasionally, can be long-winded. Be sure you edit your social media post ideas into bite-sized chunks, not ponderous 3-course meals.

    Influencer on a Mission

    Social media is a great platform to inspire change. Making an impression can take many forms; whether to create a conversation around diseases that need support or hygiene education, social media can change someone’s behavior. 

    A well-crafted tip, a health quiz, an inspiring success story: your creative social media posts can be the catalyst to get someone to take the first step to a better health outcome. 

    Social media can ease a patient’s anxiety. Getting patients to voluntarily share their success with others can be motivating. Social coercion can be a force for good.

    Now is the time to educate and reinforce systemic health information and reassure patients of your efforts to keep patients and staff safe. 

    During the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, you can reduce patient (and staff) anxiety by demonstrating something as mundane as your practices’ infection control policies. A clever video about how everyone is being safe will help patients return faster. 

    New research from consultancy EY-Parthenon found that 55% of people have avoided or delayed care during the pandemic, most commonly in family medicine at a doctor’s office. 

    If your practice has embraced telemedicine, use social platforms to share how it works and how it can be valuable to your patients. Keeping patients well informed and up to date with your protocols will make patients feel comfortable coming to your office. 

    Build trust by giving a glimpse of the practice’s culture and how much your team cares about their patients’ comfort. Change their minds by evoking a positive emotion around visiting your practice by sharing oral hygiene education and act as a familiar friend for patients. Trust and transparency is the key to curbing some of those dental anxieties. 

    Before You Start, Ask These Tough Questions

    Social media can do a lot to advance your practice, but it is no small feat. If you don’t have the time or resources to do it successfully, it doesn’t have the same payoff. The ever-familiar phrase, “What you put in is what you get out,” holds for social media. Posting without planning or research creates a disillusion that your post is eliciting an action just by being out in the world. It takes a commitment to do it for a year, and gather robust analytics to measure what is going on and know what’s working. Here are some tough questions to ask yourself before you get started:

    • How will you measure success?
    • What is your patient mix?
    • What will patients want to share?
    • Do you have the time?
    • Do you have the resources? 

    If you’ve made it through and think you’re ready to take on social media, follow these guidelines to be successful. 

    What’s your post-Covid reopening plan? Call (888) 874-2018 and one of our practice growth consultants will give you a free, no-obligation review of your online presence and reopening plans.

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