Social media has become the medium of choice for online marketing for all businesses, healthcare being no exception. If used correctly, it can turn out to be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.
The beauty of using social media as a marketing tool is that it allows you to create a strong personal connection with your patients and prospective patients. Today, patients no longer depend on word-of-mouth referrals to choose a physician. Instead they are increasingly turning to social media to make their health decisions. Physicians can just “wing it” anymore. While having an active online presence is essential, building a clear strategy to achieve online marketing goals is of paramount importance. Having a well-defined plan enables you to identify your goals and track your progress and helps you to conduct a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis of your online presence. While drafting a plan, keep this checklist in mind:
Identify your social media goals and chose the correct platform
When it comes to social media, choosing a correct platform for interaction is very important for a good online image. While interacting online, physicians should always ensure that they stick to professional ethics and abide by patient privacy regulations. To identify social media goals, try answering questions such as: Which patients are you trying to reach and what do you want them to do when they get your content? What can be the most suitable platform to interact with your target patients? Do you want to generate leads through social media or use it for creating a positive online reputation?
Some strategies that can be explored with social media are:
- If you aim to generate traffic to your website and want to increase your online visibility, you can pull unique visitors from social websites by running social media campaigns.
- If you’re looking to increase the number of people who follow you on social media, your metric should be the subscribers and followers on your social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Writing and sharing informative blogs is yet another way to engage people.
- If you want to build brand equity and develop a sense of trust and credibility, you should be very proactive in engaging in conversations/comments/tweets with patients and other readers. Every post about your practice should be handled diligently with an apt response.
The list is exhaustive and strategies should be customized depending on what you want to achieve through social media marketing.
Develop your content strategy
Regardless of what social media strategy you choose, it will work only if the content is compelling. Readers want to read something new and innovative. Study your online patient behavior and analyze want are they really looking for. Develop and post content that satisfies their needs and quest for information. Don’t stick to one type of media, and be sure to use infographics, pictures, videos, blogs and other ways to engage your audience – your patients and potential patients. You can frequently post tips and general information about health, fitness, food and well-being. Irrespective of their health issues, there are a large number of people who search for these topics for achieving better health.
For social media marketing, “content is king.” Make sure that you keep posting fresh content on regular basis so that your online presence is refreshed with every post you make.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Create an editorial calendar for social media
After listing your main social media objectives, create an editorial calendar. It should have a detailed outline about the various social media campaigns, posts and deadlines to achieve targets. You should also consider having a contingency plan, in case anything goes wrong. Adjust for holidays, staffing or other variables. Make sure you have well-defined strategies for when the posts will be made, who will be responsible for campaigns, on what parameters the results will be tracked and what resources will be required for each activity.
Monitor your accounts
Make sure you monitor all your social media accounts closely and see if your strategy is delivering as intended. Your online accounts are a reflection of how others perceive you in the virtual world. These perceptions are the building blocks of your online reputation, which in turn is a determining factor for patient conversions. Being proactive will keep you updated about what is being said about you online, and you can then take necessary steps in any adverse scenario.
Engage in real interactions
For running successful social media plans, user engagement is the key. Be active on social media and try to respond to major posts by patients and other readers. Just be careful about the patient privacy laws. Responding diligently to what’s being said about you – whether it’s positive or negative – is an important aspect of patient engagement. Your response is seen and observed not only by the person who has commented, but by many others who can be potential patients in the future. If you respond aptly and humbly, it reflects an element of transparency in your practice. It also demonstrates that you care for your patients and want to give them nothing less than the best healthcare services. Further, it opens up positive lines of communication between the patient and physician.
Social media is the future. It’s come very far and is here to stay. This cost-effective way of marketing has bowled over the industry experts, and physicians have started harnessing the power of this medium for their practice. For the beginner physicians, this checklist can definitely serve a useful purpose.