Healthcare marketing doesn't have to be difficult.
This article is third in a series of blog articles produced by NueMD focused on healthcare marketing.
You've heard marketing your medical practice means more money, but you're busy providing patient care and navigating administrative burden. Luckily, medical marketing isn't a race. It's the small consistent strides that provide big returns down the line.
Over the next 4 weeks, we'll discuss important healthcare marketing tips for medical professionals who are understandably busy.
How to Market Your Practice Tip #3
Using social media as a healthcare professional is important, and so is handling it professionally.
The use of social media in the medical field remains a hotly debated topic. On one hand, it's a great resource for networking with peers, sharing ideas, and showcasing your business. On the other hand, it's still an unfamiliar territory that some of us are just beginning to navigate professionally.
In the article Thou Shalt Not Tweet Unprofessionally: An Appreciative Inquiry into the Professional Use of Social Media, the authors discuss the argument that social media in medicine is a threat to professionalism. As some will argue, the use of social media leads to concerns of "...compromising confidentiality, eroding public trust, and loosening accountability" (Pereira et al. 561).
Regardless of where you stand in the debate, it's worth considering if social media is right for your practice.
Optimize your Google My Business profile
Filling out your My Business listing and really filling it out is crucial.
- Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success
Optimizing your Google My Business profile is the most important step in improve your marketing strategy.
That's the sidebar in Google's browser window where your business information appears. It's not exactly social media related, but it's so important we just had to include it.
According to a 2017 Moz survey, Google My Business is the largest driver of local SEO success and "proximity of an address to the point of search" is the number one factor in determining how businesses rank in local searches.
When a patient in your area searches for "dermatologist," information is pulled from all the Google My Business listings nearby and compete to rank higher in the search engine results. The ranking is based on literally hundreds of factors that constantly evolve. That's why it's so important to keep your My Business listing robust and current. You want to maximize your chances of ranking higher in those local searches.
According to Moz, here are 5 ways to maximize your Google My Business listing:
- Get verified
- Include photos
- Include proper category associations
- Include local area codes
- Set up your listing ASAP, because the age of it matters
Don't know SEO? Check out last week's article where we went over search engine optimization (SEO) and blogging.
The listing is free. Visit Google My Business now.
Decide if social media could benefit your practice
Lonnie Hirsch, CEO of Hirsch Health Consulting, says that a medical practice's decision to participate in social media should be strategic.
According to Hirsch, 3 factors will help decide if social media is right for you:
- Age of your patients
- Types of medical services you offer
Practices that might benefit from a social media presence:
- Provide and sell cash pay products and services, such as cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dermatology, cosmetic dentistry, medical concierge practices, skin care products, cash-based laser skin or hair services, Lasik, and hearing aids.
- Have a patient base of highly active social media users.
- Retain patients and provide recurring care
Decide as a team if social media fits into your practice's goals.
Establish a social media strategy
Before diving straight into Twitter or Facebook, consider outlining a social media strategy first. This will give you a chance to define your goals and establish some guidelines for using social media. Outline a clear strategy to get your staff on the same page.
Here are some tips for establishing a social media strategy:
- Designate a social media manager and note taker- Pick someone to oversee the execution of your social media plan. This person will monitor your feeds, set deadlines, and coordinate with any other social media team members. Have another team member take notes and compile an outline of your meetings for future reference. Store notes in an area or database that's easily accessible to everyone.
- Discuss your plan - The Social Media Manager should meet with team members to discuss topics like medical professionalism, your practice's brand, your target audience, and the type of content you plan to share.
- Meet regularly - Set aside 10-20 minutes each week to circle up with your social media team to discuss progress and address any issues.
Create your own content
According to Lonnie Hirsch, a commonly overlooked marketing strategy is posting relevant, compelling videos to social media platforms – including paid online ads. Platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram are great places to leverage your own videos.
For starters, these days you can easily produce a short video that lets potential patients know who you are and what services you offer. Let patients know what makes your practice unique.
Here are some tips for making a video on a cell phone or iPad:
- Be in a quiet, well-lit area
- Put the recorder in landscape mode and frame the subject like a passport photo
- Keep videos shorter than 2 minutes
- Before recording, have the provider rehearse what they'll say once or twice
- Edit the clip directly from your phone
- Upload the recorded clip to a Youtube account
- Add a title and short description to your video and share!
Note: Be sure to never share any private health information (PHI) online!
If you have an iPhone, it's $4.99 to download the iMovie app.
Schedule posts using social media tools
Posting to social media is time consuming, even for non-healthcare professionals. Fortunately, there are social media automation tools available online.
Buffer lets users schedule posts ahead of time. Add your content to a queue schedule and the app will post it for you to multiple social media channels.
When choosing a social media automation tool, be sure to look for features such as:
- Reports and analytics - Most social media schedulers offer some form of analytics. Use this data to optimize your post schedule based on the amount of engagement you receive. For example, if your audience interacts with your posts mostly at night, then tailor your schedule to post the most important information at night (like your own content).
- Team collaboration - Use a tool that allows you to coordinate with multiple team members. Some tools will allow you to designate an administrator who screens posts so that nothing goes live without approval.
Want to see more on healthcare marketing? Check out our infographic.
Pereira, Ian, et al. "Thou shalt not tweet unprofessionally: an appreciative inquiry into the professional use of social media." Postgrad Med J, vol.91, Oct 2015, pp.561-564. https://doi.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2015-133353. Accessed 6 May 2018.