Medical Practice Marketing II: Effective Use of Social Media
Social media is currently one of the fastest growing and most cost-effective marketing platforms available. If you operate in the business-to-consumer environment, social media offers you the most direct method of reaching your target market.
Blogging, Twitter and Facebook give you ways to engage your patients on a one-to-one basis, curate suitable content from other sources and provide accurate advice that balances the multitude of questionable sites on the Internet. Social networking sites also offer valuable ways of getting feedback from your patients, such as through surveys and monitoring.
The importance of a business blog in medical practice marketing can’t be overstated. A blog offers you an easy way to create and share content, acts as a platform for educational materials and forms the hub around which your social media profiles revolve. Most importantly, it results in regular updates of keyword-optimized copy to your website, which is what gets you found by search engines. If you can’t write blog posts on a weekly or twice-weekly basis as part of your medical practice marketing program, contract out the writing to someone who can. Just get it done.
A recent survey by PwC Health Institute showed that 61% of respondents said they trusted information posted by physicians on social media networking sites. Healthcare professionals currently using social media find that Facebook, in particular, is a way to get feedback from patients in a conversational way on issues they want to see more information about.
Chris Keating, an NJ-based physical therapist, suggests creating Facebook pages for community events and then asking followers what conditions they would like to see screening for. The responses help him to identify the needs in the community as well as posting information and advice for followers to share.
A Twitter account enables medical practices to reach followers anonymously, by sending tweets that direct them to blog posts and other parts of the website. Monitoring your Twitter account (and there are apps to do that!) also enables you to know immediately if a dissatisfied patient posts a complaint or a negative comment. What’s more, it gives you an open forum in which to address the problem publicly, post an apology if required and the resolution (without violating confidentiality, of course) and find out if the patient is satisfied with the result.
A marketer from the University of California’s health sciences division noticed the development of trends on Twitter around ulcerative colitis. This gave her department the opportunity to start posting information about the condition, with a view to helping smaller practices develop products and services in response.
Google+ Local pages application is taking over from Google Places and is a great tool for location-based businesses, which most medical practices are. By creating a Google+ account, you gain access to the Local site and can “claim” your practice name and location. By setting up your business page with contact and location information, you’re able to integrate seamlessly (and free of charge!) with other Google services such as search and maps. You can post product and service updates, users can post reviews, and your practice is accessible for anyone accessing your information on a mobile device.
Social media isn’t limited to under 25s, either. Research shows that more and more users over 50 and even 60 are becoming proficient in its use as a way to find what they want and to stay in touch with younger family members. Usage increases each year too, so if you haven’t considered it for your medical practice marketing as yet, maybe 2013 is the year to do so. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your medical practice marketing needs, or click the banner below.