Today, the modern patient lives in a ‘wired’ world with unlimited access to any information they might seek out. Included in this abundance of online knowledge and information is the expectation that their physicians, too, are accessible 24/7 through digital means. However, many physicians are still fighting this trend, leery of wading into the uncharted waters of their online presence.
While it is true that creating an online presence is a bit of an upfront challenge, refusing to embrace the growing ‘wired’ trends could ultimately harm your practice. What do we mean by wired trends? Well, we’re not just talking about creating a website, here. What we’re really aiming at is the creation, management and promotion of social media accounts for your medical practice to communicate openly with your patients. Younger tech-savvy patients expect to see their physicians online, and if they don’t, they may just choose to leave your practice for one that has a more robust online presence.
7 Tips to Get Your Medical Practice Started With Social Media
So how do you get started with social media for your medical practice? Here are 7 tips to get your practice started. Check out our tips and hints below.
1. Define Your Audience
The first tip we can give is to define your audience. A lot of people would stop us here and say, “well, I serve a lot of people. So, my audience must be everyone.” That’s where you’re wrong. By serving ‘everyone’, you end up serving no one, and that could lose you many hours of work and a lot of patience.
Defining an audience is easy if you know your patients well enough. For example, a family practice or pediatric practice might choose to target stay-at-home mothers because they serve a large percentage of this demographic. By doing so, your practice can then make choices on what social media platforms to utilize, what type of content to put out, and when to do so just based on the type of person you want to cater your social media marketing towards.
2. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
The number of social media platforms available today is outrageous – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Youtube, Google Plus, etc. – there seems to be no end to the number of platforms the world ‘needs’ to have at their fingertips. Our message to you: jumping on the bandwagon of every new social media platform is not a good idea.
Your organization should first focus on what will be most impactful for you and your audience. Are you a family practice targeting stay-at-home mothers? Then, Facebook would be the most relevant social media platform. Do you serve a significant number of millennials? Twitter would also be beneficial to utilize when communicating to your patients. But, please keep in mind that you should always make sure you are HIPAA compliant.
To help you understand how social media platforms are used to communicate in different ways, see below. This example assumes a patient is visiting the hospital.
- Facebook: I don’t like visiting the hospital.
- Twitter: I’m at the #hospital.
- Instagram: Here is an extremely edited picture of me at the hospital.
- Youtube: Here is a video of me explaining why I’m at the hospital.
- Vine: Here is a short 6 second video clip of my hospital room.
- Pinterest: Here’s a terrible recipe from the hospital coffee machine.
- LinkedIn: My skills involve a vast knowledge of the overall hospital floorplan and quickest ways to get to the snack machines.
For a more serious explanation, see this article.
3. Set up Your Accounts
This is the most obvious of all of the tips, but setting up the various social media accounts can sometimes drain you. Here is a very helpful how-to-guide for social media account set up from Hootsuite that you can follow along with while setting up your new social media accounts.
4.Make Sure Your ‘Profiles’ are Well Designed
Nothing’s worse than visiting a physician’s website that was beautifully created, just to find that their Facebook or Twitter profiles resemble that of your 13-year old cousin’s. Hire a graphic designer or use your practice’s marketing guru to design your profile images, banner images, and other promotional materials you’d like to use online so that they match your branding and brand style.
5. Publish Relevant, Interesting Content
Probably the most time-consuming aspect of social media is consistently posting relevant, interesting, and credible content. Content doesn’t always have to include self-written blog articles or practice marketing promotions. You can also include helpful or funny infographics, photos, videos, outsourced articles, and even text posts. What’s important to remember is that no matter what type of content you choose, you shouldn’t compromise on the quality of the content you post, or continually spam your audience with sales-like content.
Our tip? Poor quality or irrelevant, boring content will probably go unread or end up trashing your practice’s reputation. So, make sure to keep it interesting. The best way to do so is to ask yourself: would I read this if it came up on my feed? If the answer’s no, then don’t post it. Find out what your audience likes to see online from similar practices, and go from there. Remember, you want to catch their eye, not make them turn it away.
6. Think Smart: Schedule Some Posts Ahead of Time
Hiring or nominating a coordinator for social media is not realistic for most small to medium sized practices, but syncing accounts, on Facebook and Twitter, for example, can help save time and increase efficiency. Several social media management tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow posts to be scheduled daily, weekly or monthly, allowing you to set aside some designated time to get the bulk of your social media work done ahead of time. Just make sure that you don’t automate all of your posts. It’s important to post as much in real-time as you can afford to.
7. Be Consistent
Don’t let yourself fall off the wagon by creating social media accounts and then leaving them to rot. If creating fresh, regular content is too much to manage, seek the help of a reputable marketing consultant or marketing firm to curate and manage the page for you. What’s worse than not having social media accounts? Having them, but managing them poorly.
Don’t let yourself get left behind by your competitors. Get online and start communicating with your patients! Not only will you make your patients feel more connected, but you will also be able to utilize your new social media accounts for communications and marketing purposes.
Are you a current AntWorks client? Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for medical practices!