By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Some doctors are social media superstars. We’ve all seen them: they may host television shows or serve as frequent commentators on healthcare matters, making them a go-to source as a social media influencer. Some even use YouTube or Instagram to showcase procedures that fascinate the general public (but we can’t all be Dr. Pimple Popper).
For the rest of us, social media for doctors can be a bit of a mystery. You may just post occasionally on your platform of choice and hope for the best, or you may not have a social media presence at all. There are all sorts of misconceptions out there about the importance of social media for doctors and how it should be used, so let’s clear a few things up.
See also: Healthcare Social Media Marketing Plans
#1: “Social media just isn’t important for doctors.”
Doctors do important work. And, in a perfect world, that work would speak for itself.
However, the healthcare industry is in a constant state of change.
Social media can help boost your reputation, or it can give others the power to bring you down. Unfortunately, there’s always someone out there willing to leave nasty comments about their experience at the doctor’s office, but with a strong social media presence, the good can outshine the bad.
Besides, there are so many ways you can use social media not just to increase brand awareness, but to make a difference in patient’s lives.
- Education: You can use social media to share tips and statistics about health, nutrition, self-care, or whatever is most relevant to your patient base.
- Patient Engagement: Of course, preserving patient privacy is important. Still, you can use social media to answer basic questions about your location, your hours, or who you serve. If patients have an urgent question, you can direct them to your phone line or a secure patient portal.
- Self-Improvement: Finally, social media for doctors helps with self-improvement. You can join relevant LinkedIn groups, for example, to stay up to date on the latest news in your field or find upcoming conferences, and to stay involved in important conversations.
#2: “Social media won’t help my healthcare SEO rankings.”
When hospitals and practices get their digital marketing strategies off the ground, what they really want to know is whether their sites are ranking in the search engines.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is something we cover in other posts, and it’s much more complex than simply having a website and posting online. That said, social media can help to boost your ranking. An active social media presence lets search engines know that your practice is credible, and your social media profile may even show up in the search results.
#3: “Posting on Facebook can really drive patients.”
While some people think Facebook isn’t important at all, other doctors spend a lot of time posting on Facebook believing it can help drive patients to their practice.
Organic posts on Facebook are a great way to engage with an audience. But if this is your only social media strategy, you’re missing out. Paid or boosted posts should be part of a cohesive marketing strategy (though, as you’ll see next, this involves careful planning).
In addition, Facebook alone may not be the best strategy to reach your intended audience, especially a younger generation. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter should not be ruled out. Facebook certainly serves a purpose, but it’s not your only way to reach prospective and current patients.
#4: “If I want to reach a wider audience, I can just boost a post.”
Facebook offers some really useful tools as part of their business feature, allowing you to spend money to boost or promote a post so it reaches a wider target audience in your area.
It seems easy enough, in theory, and the button is built into the Facebook platform. In practice, though, you miss out when you use this feature without any planning in advance. Facebook advertising can reach a wide range of people in your area who may be searching for your specialty. It doesn’t just go out to friends and fans, but to “lookalike audiences” that may be interested in your practice because they’re similar to those who already like it.
Or, your ads can reach the wrong people at the wrong time, people located nearby but with zero interest in your services. It’s wasted money and wasted time, and could even turn some people away. Social media for doctors requires strategy, which may mean hiring somebody to do the job for you.
#5: “Social media for doctors is a passing trend.”
Sure, doctors considered social media influencers may come and go. But all in all, social media is here to stay.
Facebook may have had its legal issues, as of late, but it’s a multibillion-dollar company that will find a way to bounce back. And while you may have heard that Facebook is only for older audiences, studies show that millennials are still the top sharers on the site.
Sites like LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Twitter continue to gain traction for businesses and practices and can help you to be seen in your area or by anyone searching for information about your specialty.
Social media for doctors may not provide ROI right away, but it takes time. If you’re worried it’s a waste of your time, hire a company or staff member to manage your social media for you, but it’s not worth the risk to go completely off the map.