Some 2.8 billion people use social media to share their thoughts and life updates, connect with family and friends, and uncover news and information that’s relevant to them. Though sites like Facebook and Twitter were created to cultivate personal relationships, healthcare practices can also use social media to reach new patients and help drive business goals.
Read on to learn how social media can be beneficial for independent doctors, as well as a few best practices for using social media.
Doctors can realize a number of business benefits from social media. Primarily, social media helps doctors reach new patients by increasing their online footprint and by providing them a platform to share their expertise and insight.
The more places a healthcare practice appears online, the larger its online footprint. The larger the footprint, the more likely the practice is to be found by new patients.
Creating social media profiles and sharing information related to your specialty and practice on those profiles can help increase your ranking on Google, Bing, and other search engines. And social media profiles help new patients find your practice when they use Facebook and other social sites to search for information related to your specialty and practice.
The doctor-patient relationship is intimate. As such, many people will gather as much information as they can about a doctor before becoming new patients.
Social media can help you calm reservations people might have about putting their health in your hands. On social media, you can give glimpses inside of your practice, so new patients know what to expect before they walk through your doors. You can also share your expertise regarding your specialty, so new patients feel confident you are the real deal.
Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of your personality in your posts, so new patients can begin to feel comfortable with you as a person even before meeting.
You might like: How adjusting your bedside manner can boost patient retention
Though doctors don’t get into the business of healthcare in search of fame, a little celebrity can help attract new patients and build thought leadership in their specialties.
When you consistently share helpful information related to your specialty on social media, you become a go-to source for media and other audiences on related topics. As you are cited as an expert more and more often in online articles, you can expect more new patients to find you using search engines and social media.
Doctors need to follow a few best practices in order to get the most from their social media use. Below are a few tips to help you get started.
Each social media site is different. Rather than jumping on all sites, think carefully about what you want to get out of using social media so you can select the site that will work best for you.
Do you want to showcase results from your services? Instagram could be your best bet. Do you primarily want to share news and advice? Twitter might be the right site. Do you want to increase organic traffic to your website? Consider Google+.
Think about your overall goals, and then determine which sites will help you reach those goals.
Instagram 101: Practice marketing tips for healthcare providers
Inactive social media profiles won’t help you attract new patients. When you commit to using social media for business, you’re committing to sharing relevant and authoritative content on a regular basis.
Develop a schedule to help you post on social media consistently. In general, about 80 percent of your content should be information new patients will find helpful or interesting and 20 percent should be promotional. Only share information that is relevant to your practice and specialty and that comes from credible sources.
Be sure to make your content actionable by including links where new patients can find more information, whether it’s on your website or another site. Also include actionable phrases like, “Visit our website for more information,” that clearly tell new patients what to do next.
Engagement is key to social media success, because social media sites like Facebook are more likely to surface engaged users than non-engaged users in searches.
To spark engagement, you can follow relevant pages or users and like or comment on their posts. You can also share content that’s proven to get more views and engagement. According to the book “A Field Guide to Using Visual Tools,” 90 percent of information that goes to the brain is visual, which means visuals could better engage new patients.
For more on this topic, check out the webinar How To Acquire and Engage New Patients with Social Media. In the webinar, you’ll get more helpful information on how social media can help doctors reach new patients. You’ll also hear from Joseph Cabaret, MD, an interventional pain specialist and addiction medicine specialist who has had great success with social media for business. Visit this webpage to watch the webinar now.