By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
In somewhat random order, here are nearly two dozen timely social media tips and techniques to grow your online audience, community and influence. The marketing benefits of social media for doctors, medical practices and hospitals are significant.
It seems as if nearly everyone with a smartphone is addicted to one or more social media connections. Somewhere in that crowd are your patients and prospective patients. But, to complicate the landscape, SM is relatively young. It is also relatively inexpensive. It continues to grow, change and evolve. It’s no wonder that many healthcare providers are perplexed. Here’s help:
Social media tips and techniques
The following tips—compiled over several years—are a helpful starting point. If you are just beginning, or if you are looking for improvements, our list offers some of the best guidance and direction. But these notes are not exhaustive, and we’d love to have your input.
Please tell us, what would you add to this list?
- Carefully define your ideal patient and target audience. You can’t be everything to everybody, so don’t make that classic mistake. Know your patient base by demographics and psychographics, then focus and then focus again. Remember, your best source of information is to talk with patients. They will likely be flattered that you asked, and they will be glad to help.
- Create accounts for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are dozens of social networks, including many that you don’t know. Begin with the largest players first. Create your account profile with descriptive words that your patients would use. Expand, subtract and refine your list.
- Focus on your patients’ network(s) of choice. It only makes sense to “fish where the fish are.” Therefore, build your primary social media presence around the social choices of your target audience. Hint: Plan sufficient resources to support more than one SM opportunity.
- Quality content counts the most. Publish regularly. Information needs to be accurate and authoritative. Quality content must be interesting, understandable and compelling. After all, content that is boring (and never read) is ineffective in building relationships,
- Commit to being present regularly. Social media takes time to develop, and that requires a regular presence and consistent participation. Devote the time, talent and resources to making daily updates and postings. If you are not prepared to sustain the effort over time, don’t begin until you are ready.
- Useful information becomes shared information. Publish content that readers (and prospective patients) can use. Useful information is shared in social circles and connections. Over time, useful/quality content engenders trust, shows expertise and reflects thought leadership.
- Call on professional help. Social media for doctors can be demanding, and we can help. Reach out to us for help in the planning, design and effective posting of social materials designed to meet or exceed your marketing goals. Check in with us today at 800-656-0907
- Cross-promote your social self. Provide visitors with a lineup of your social media icons. Give everyone the ability to switch, for example, from website to Facebook, or from Twitter to your YouTube channel.
- Images add impact and interest. Virtually every social platform provides for easily using pictures, videos, GIFs or other image enhancements.
- Include emojis in Facebook updates. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, emojis capture attention. Use these little digital images or icons to reinforce an idea or sentiment.
- Include keywords in social profiles and content. Refine the list of words and terms your your patients and prospective patients are likely to use in online searches.
- Keep post updates short and sweet. Strive to present a single idea in a clear but compact message.
- Share your updates/entries multiple times. The social media stream moves rapidly and single entries are easily missed. Vary your info and post as a different message at different times of day.
- Listen to the voice of the customer. Social media provides online “listening posts” for providers to hear and understand discussions, trends and issues that are important to patients/prospective patients. This is fodder for timely engagement.
- “Tell. Don’t sell.” Social interaction is fueled by informative discussions and authoritative presentations. Content that teaches, informs or updates is valuable. Heavy-handed “selling” is a social audience turnoff.
- Selectively join groups and discussions. Find and participate in conversation opportunities such as Twitter Chats, LinkedIn Groups and similar social platform sub-sections. Look for what you can add to the conversation as well as what you can learn about current topics.
- Create your own mini-visual quotes. There are several simple-to-use online tools that create useful and attractive quotes for social postings. Check out Recite.com, Pinwords.com and others.
- Jump into existing conversations. Navigate the Twitter stream by searching for pertinent hashtags or keywords of interest. As appropriate, get into the discussions with patients and professionals about timely topics, trends and news items.
- Ask questions. Be provocative. Inspire discussions. Online social media inspires dialogue (not just monologue.) Consider ways to encourage online interaction with others.
- Respond quickly to questions, comments and reviews. Immediate responses are often best, although not always practical. Strive for same day reply/response if possible.
- A consistent NAP is vital. Believe it or not, the fundamental information of NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE (NAP) is vitally important to social media and to search optimization. The key is to be listed consistently in every use, online listing and directories.
- Always follow other doctors via social media. In addition to building your social media marketing efforts, invest time in connecting with other healthcare professionals. It is one means to keep tabs on the competition. It also provides a resource for ideas, tapping into trends, inspiring discussion topics and for finding and sharing professional ideas and information.
- Track your social media activities. Quantity the successes and failures of social media campaigns and efforts. There are analytic tools available (many are free) to document and report your wins and losses. (Some SM efforts can take time to gain traction and demonstrate measurable results.) Convert tracking data into actionable steps for improvement.
Please let us know what you would add to this list.
We welcome your comments below. And please contact us if you need professional assistance with creating, posting and maintaining a social media presence.
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, CEO