Only in recent years have medical practices started to understand the importance of using social media. It has quickly become one of the main sources where potential patients share and consume information as well as engage with individuals and businesses. Check out some of these staggering stats:
90% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) and 35% of those over age 65 use social media. (Pew Research Center)
70% of the U.S. population has at least one social networking profile. (Statistica)
The number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2018. (Statistica)
It’s no question that social media is a vital piece of your overall marketing strategy. Not only do your patients want to engage with you, but it would be foolish to not take advantage of this low-cost vehicle that allows you to get your brand and message in front of such a large audience. In addition, patients will not only just find your posts valuable and informative, but you will also be perceived as the expert in your field and your practice will be top-of-mind when they need your services.
So, before we get started on the how, let’s first talk some basic best practices.
Social Media Best Practices:
- Stay Professional. Remember, you are still representing your practice. Even though you may show a lighter side at times on social media, you want to stay within the boundaries. This is entirely separate of your personal presence so keep the strong opinions and miscellaneous topics out.
- Have Purpose. While social media can be used for a number of posts, have a clear purpose and be intentional when creating your content. Think about specific groups or conditions you want to target or specific services or new technology you want to promote.
- Don’t Oversell. Social media is about engaging with your audience and providing useful content. While promoting your services is part of that, be careful not to overdo it. Again, your audience has to find value in what you share and constant overselling will quickly turn them away.
- Be Frequent. Frequency is key. Sporadic posts here and there will do little to show your audience the value of your practice. Create a schedule for sharing on social media. No time? Assign a staff member to take the lead.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at how you can and should use social media for your practice.
How to Use Social Media for Your Practice:
- Share General Info. Closing the office early due to weather? A change in office hours? Welcoming a new associate or staff member? Participating in a health fair or charity? Make sure to keep your audience informed about the general happenings of your practice.
- Educate. This can be done a number of ways. Sharing links to your blogs or other web pages is not only helpful, but will also drive traffic back to your website. In addition, you can share helpful links to other sites or even just information and tips that your audience can benefit from. Feel free to also expand your horizons beyond your specialty – your audience will appreciate content about overall health and well-being.
- Promote Services. Again, without overdoing it, social media can be a great platform to remind your audience of the excellent services you provide or the latest technology you are able to offer. Sometimes all it takes is just a little reminder.
- Be Timely & Relevant. That’s what social media is all about. It’s where we go to get the latest news and updates. Make sure to keep holidays and current events in mind in order to stay relevant.
- Engage Your Audience. While sharing on social media is important, getting your audience to engage with you is even more so. While not always easy to do, using creative measures can go a long way such as having contests on social media where you ask your audience to give their input or vote via ‘Likes’ or even just directly ask for their feedback to a question. Just remember to keep it light and professional.
- Show (some of) Your True Colors. I know, we stressed professionalism a lot and while that still stands, it’s important to show your audience that you have some personality and that you are human. Share some photos of a staff outing or staff members acting silly. The sky’s the limit here as far as how creative you can be but your audience will appreciate connecting with you as people, not just a medical practice.
Using social media for your practice doesn’t have to be an arduous task. With just a little thought and time, it could provide substantial results for your practice in the short and long term. Of course, all of it would be useless without your audience so make sure to let your patients know you are on social media. Including social media icons on your website and signs throughout your office can help spread the word to your patients and encourage them to follow you.