Should you use social media for medical practices?

Why you should consider using social media for medical practices

There is a lot of talk about social media marketing for business. Some medical practices are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Other medical practices have an intuitive hunch that there is something to all of this, but they’re just not yet sure what it is. This article explains why you need social media for medical practices.

I get asked all the time, ‘Do I really need social media for my medical practice?’

The staggering statistics speak for themselves. In December 2015, Facebook had fourteen million Australian users and YouTube had just less than fourteen million users.

What can you use social media for?

You can use social media to:

  • Create a credible image – Show that there are real people behind the medicine and that you are on top of all the latest techniques and research.
  • Boost your website traffic – Include links in posts to your website. If people are interested in your services, they will click through to discover more about your practice.
  • Improve your SEO rankings – SEO is influenced by ‘social signals’. These are Likes, Tweets, +1’s, Pins, Shares, etc., that individuals attribute to a webpage. When a specific page, whether a blog post or a YouTube video, has a wealth of ‘social signals’, its SEO-value increases.
  • Have fun – Get creative with your social media account and make medicine more familiar and approachable to patients.
  • Keep up with your competitors – This is the future of marketing. Get on top of social media to attract potential patients searching online before your competitors do.

Forward-thinking practices are beginning to understand the significance of being visible on social media.

Social Media Strategies

With social media, medical professionals can easily share their knowledge and present themselves as real people, not just a name and a logo.

Regardless of where your practice is in its social media marketing evolution, whether just starting out or already an expert, here are some strategies that may help:

Attract new patients through visibility

Marketing has changed. Today, it’s is about engaging with communities and delivering services with stories that spread. Increasing top-of-mind awareness with existing patients leads to more referrals.

Word-of-mouth advertising has been around forever but today the widespread use, ease, and scalability of social media tools mean that word-of-mouth has moved online.

Studies have shown that a very low percentage of your existing patients actually know (or think about) the scope of services that you offer. Publishing content and educating current patients about a wide variety of related topics through your blog and social media directly leads to increased knowledge, awareness, referral potential, and greater case acceptance.

Increase patient loyalty through culture

In the old days, most practices believed that their brand is primarily centred on a logo and static website. Not any more. Successful brands are about online connections, likeable transparency, and dynamic content.

Through social media, patients will pick up on a very powerful message. That you listen, care, are open and honest, and that you treat people. The perception is that you are leading edge in everything you do, including your medical services.

Promotions, offers, contests, check-ins, and deals create interest and viral buzz, people enjoy sharing them. Contests and giveaways can range from the extremely simple and inexpensive to the more complex and costly. Either way, when compared to traditional marketing (magazine ads, direct mail, email newsletters, etc.), these types of promotions provide great value and traction.

Attain practice growth and a mindset change

Social media storytelling reinforces through text and visuals (photos and videos), that what you are doing matters. While I don’t mean to oversell this benefit, I have seen these outward manifestations of in-practice cultures not only strengthen patient relationships and increase business but also positively impact team dynamics as well.

The medical practices that most successfully use social media marketing are the ones committed to business on a deeply personal level. These are the practices that consider revenue increases both in terms of traditional, short-term ROI and as a natural, long-term outgrowth of better serving people.

Prioritising your social media activities

When thinking about social media for medical practices, the most common question I’m asked is, ‘Which social media network is the most important to focus on?’

Each social media network has its various advantages and disadvantages. The main thing is to be present where your target market is. You need to decide where is the most appropriate for your practice, and where you can effectively execute your social media marketing strategy.

Priority 1: Facebook

Facebook acts as an excellent supplement to your practice’s website, encouraging constant interaction with patients. It’s where you can tell the story of your company, intrigue your viewers, and reach the millions online.

Ask your patients:

  • To ‘check-in’ on Facebook when they come to your office (they do this on their smartphones).
  • To ‘Like’ your practice page.
  • To post a picture, video, or comment if they want to, perhaps about their visit to your practice.

Your posts should be personal and frequent (ideally daily), but not clinical. And you should always comment on any post a patient makes.

SEO Tip: Include your keyword targets in the profile page’s URL and in the description. Use relevant hashtags in posts (e.g. #medicalprofessional). Link posts back to your website. Include a link to your Facebook page from your website.

Priority 2: Google+

As stated before, Google+ is important because Google is able to enhance its search engine results with information gathered from users’ social circles. At the time of writing, spending time on Google+ should be a priority for your practice.

Priority 3: Youtube

YouTube is searched extensively. Many people would much rather watch a video than read something. Every video that you make should show up on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, and your website. It is important to note that YouTube is also owned by Google. The more often you post a video, the better it will be for your practice.

Priority 4: Instagram 

Instagram has seen a 32% growth in Australia over the past twelve months, now serving five million monthly Australian users.

Instagram is widely used and is owned by Facebook. You can take interesting photos of your patients, particularly before-and-after shots, or provide behind-the-scenes footage for your followers, giving them a taste of your practice, team, values, and services.

Share relevant and useful information in the caption, like location details, team names, and services. Offer followers exclusive benefits and make your business more personable.

Priority 5: Twitter

Twitter is a great social media tool for enhancing your public relations (PR) and building your ‘brand’. You can enhance your ‘know’, ‘like’, and ‘trust’ factor through simply tweeting regularly and sharing with your followers. Share day-to-day happenings or tweet relevant links and news.

It is easy to be active on Twitter because what you post is so short. It can be very effective in your practice for alerting patients of openings in your schedule. You can post pictures, videos, and alert your Twitter audience every time you post a blog on your website.

SEO Tip: Take the time to reach out, follow, and re-tweet posts of like-minded influencers and businesses. The greater the following you can cultivate, the greater exposure (and social signal potential) your tweets will have.

Priority 6: LinkedIn

LinkedIn has the highest business-focus of all social media networks. It serves as an excellent tool to create exposure among an educated and professional audience.

You should not so much expect to get many patients from here, but it is great to improve your credibility. Use LinkedIn to reconnect with old colleagues, recruit associates and staff, and join professional groups. Being a LinkedIn member enhances credibility and visibility, as well as having SEO value.

SEO Tip: Connect with as many colleagues, patients, and friends as you can. A strong LinkedIn following will increase your page’s search engine authority, in addition to increasing the likelihood that your LinkedIn posts get shared.

Priority 7: Pinterest, Periscope, etc

Whilst there are other social media networks, they will be of lower value when trying to attract patients. You may find some practices taking advantage of one or two of them, particularly Pinterest, which has a very high amount of user activity, but for the most part, your energy should be spent elsewhere.

SEO Tip: When building your Pinterest page, use keywords to describe your pinboards, as well as to define the URL and description of your profile page.

Social Media Tips

The most successful and ‘liked’ activities on social media have some common threads. Use these as guidelines for your activity:

  • Be fun – Successful practices make social media fun for team members and patients. It’s not a chore.
  • Do the unexpected – Throw out the boring and be a little adventuresome.
  • Be involved in the community – Nearly every thriving practice does some good in their community. And they talk about it online.
  • Use patient images – Many patients are happy to help you in your efforts. Remember to ask permission.
  • Share team members’ personalities – Patients and prospective patients become loyal to people they know and like.
  • Link back to your website – When posting tips or news, remember to include a link back to a relevant page on your website. This will improve your Google ranking.
  • Mix your posts – Have a great mix of educational, fun, and promotional posts on social media. Too much of one will be overpowering. Try and have a balance.
  • Experiment – Use a small part of your marketing budget to boost certain posts and promotions. Test and see what works best for your practice and patients.
  • Be yourself – Be genuine and don’t try to be anything that you and your team aren’t.

Social media summary

The important rule to remember when starting with social media for medical practices is to build up gradually. Start using only as many platforms as you can handle well. Be regular, be friendly, be fun, and be as non- commercial as you can.

  • Step one is to create accounts.
  • Make social media part of someone’s job in the practice.
  • Spend fifteen to thirty minutes a day composing posts.
  • Be consistent and keep it fresh.
  • Get releases from your patients for all photos and videos.
  • Be familiar with the latest social media guidelines from AHPRA.

Contact us If you would like to know more about social media