In today’s digital age, an increasing number of people receive news through social media — currently two-thirds of Americans according to Pew Research Center. As a micro-blogging platform, Twitter is a perfect source for quick and convenient information.
It is also one of the most popular social media platforms, with 330 million monthly active users. Of that audience, users are most likely to be Millennials. Although the demographic might feel out of reach to some healthcare providers, they are an extremely valuable market segment. In fact, Twitter states that 80% of users are affluent Millennials, making them a great target audience for specialty services.
These are just a few of the reasons to incorporate Twitter into your medical practice’s marketing plan. Here’s how you can get started.
Twitter Best Practices
The key to succeeding at Twitter is sharing content and joining conversations in a thoughtful manner. Consider these four components when crafting your social media presence to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Think of this as your elevator pitch to other users as to why they should follow you. Don’t make it too salesly, but do think about offering an interesting tidbit about yourself or other platforms patients can connect with you on.
At the very least, your bio must let people know who you are and what you do. For a medical practice, it is also important to include where you are located. For example, take a look at Dr. Mike’s bio below.
Dr. Mike’s profile is straight to the point but also shows off a fun side to his 104K followers with the use of emojis.
Another big piece of your Twitter identity also includes your handle, or username. Make sure it is relevant for searchers to find you easily. Good ideas include: @yourname, @dryourname, or @NYCdryourname.
Your Twitter account won’t serve your healthcare practice much good if there isn’t anyone following it. Build awareness of your Twitter profile by following other Twitter accounts. These Twitter accounts can include prospective patients in your local area, other doctors in your field, or medical journals and associations which interest you.
Many users will follow you back automatically, but be sure to do a purge for inactive Twitter accounts every so often to increase levels of engagement.
Tweets can range from a single sentence, a link to another source, a promotional image for a sale, and much more. Since the messages are short, you are able to post frequently to Twitter than other platforms.
Aim for at least three to four posts a day on Twitter to increase your reach. It might feel difficult to accumulate enough content to achieve a schedule this consistant, but information is everywhere. If you’re blogging, Twitter is the perfect place to syndicate your articles for maximum exposure.
KevinMD shares a blog article with an attention-grabbing hook and image.
You can also retweet, which is sharing other Twitter account’s tweets, to your feed. It’s a great way to stay active, build trust, and establish yourself as an authority in the field.
Although hashtags (#) are present on almost all social media sites, they are vital to Twitter. Hashtags are keywords that tag your message, and all others using the same one, into a single stream of content on Twitter to help searchers find information.
It is ideal to have two or three hashtags in a Tweet. Popular healthcare hashtags in the medical field include #PatientExperience, #Nurses, #HealthcareForAll, and #Physician. You can also jump on the bandwagon with hashtags for trending topics or when something big hits the news to take advantage of increased search traffic.
Lastly, if you are attending a healthcare conference, look to see if there is an event-specific hashtag, and start networking with other professionals in your field.
Twitter hashtags can also help you brand your practice by thinking of something personal to your business. Tags like #DrJoesHeathTips or #DentistDilemmas can become something your followers look forward to seeing in their news feed.
Twitter Healthcare Stars
Take some inspiration from these successful Twitter accounts tweeting in the healthcare sphere.
Kevin Pho, M.D. - @kevinmd
Not only does Kevin Pho send out a daily newsletter for healthcare professionals, he also keeps them engaged through Twitter. He offers a great deal of expertise through his network of other healthcare thought leaders from across the globe, a great example of gaining a following by supporting others.
Val Jones, MD - @drval
Dr. Val Jones is the Medical Director of Admissions at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and Founder of Get Better Health. She capitalizes on education for healthcare providers, as well as fun insider content that targets her colleagues’ experiences.
Eric Topol - @EricTopol
San Diego cardiologist Eric Topol built a world-renowned presence on Twitter by sharing new developments in the healthcare industry. He credits Twitter as his number one news source, and shows how to establish a Twitter presence by becoming a thought leader in innovation.
Mary L. Brandt, MD - @drmlb
Dr. Brandt has established her authority as a professor and surgeon and conveys this through her Twitter profile. She shares tips, breaking news, and healthy recipes. But, when she shares a link, you can tell she’s saying something authentic and not just automatically retweeting.
Dr. Steve Eisenberg - @drseisenberg
Oncologist Dr. Steven Eisenberg provides inspiring and tactical healthcare advice to cancer patients and their family members through Twitter. He also shares his hobbies of writing songs for individuals living with cancer and hosting his own Internet talk show on healthcare news. Social media, when used in this way, can be a great place to inspire an audience.
No matter what method you choose for content sharing on Twitter, make sure you are always aware of HIPAA guidelines. Unsure about how to balance social media and protected health information? Here’s a guide for navigating sensitive patient information.
For a recap of the best strategies for healthcare providers on Twitter, check out this quick tip video.