Are you a medical provider who can’t decide if social media is right for you and your practice? This blog offers some information about the most popular social media sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – so you can make an informed decision about which are best for you.
Don’t look at LinkedIn as a source for finding new patients – you’re better off viewing LinkedIn as a great place to get to know other physicians and build a contact network of resources that can help your practice or your patients. By keeping an updated profile, joining relevant groups, and sharing good content, you can use LinkedIn as a form of networking that can lead to referrals through sources you don’t expect. For example, let’s say you’re an orthopedic knee specialist who spends a lot of time working with cyclists. One of your LinkedIn connections, a retired doctor that runs a geriatric cycling club, could be very helpful – if you’ve cultivated a good LinkedIn presence and it’s clear what you do, you can bet that that doctor will send some patients spinning your way.
A successful Facebook page isn’t all about you, or your practice. Instead, Facebook is about interacting with your community. For example, if you’re a pediatrician, you could use your Facebook page to share the yearly Easter egg hunt or softball sign-ups at the local community center. Promote an upcoming community 5K or a local parade. None of these things are directly related to your medical practice and not all of them are even health related – but if you share useful information, it gives your target audience information they need and keeps you in their news feed.
Facebook isn’t necessarily about getting new patients into your medical practice, either – it’s more of a way to interact with your current patients and your community. (Bonus: your current patients are referral sources, so your Facebook page could lead to new patients after all.)
Twitter is probably the least useful social media platform for medical practices. For one, it has about half the numbers of users that Facebook has. It also has more limitations – and we don’t just mean the 140-character tweet limit. For example, Twitter is geared more toward the younger crowd, so if your patients aren’t primarily teenagers and young adults, you may be out of luck. However, Twitter is more popular – and most likely more useful – in large metropolitan areas where you’re competing for attention among hundreds of other medical practices, so if you live in a big city, you should have a Twitter profile.
If you do choose to use Twitter, find and follow influential people in your community and invite your potential referral sources to follow you. And, like on Facebook, Twitter isn’t all about you. Try using an 80/20 rule – 80% of your tweets should be funny, motivational, inspirational, interesting, etc. and the other 20% can be promotional.
Instagram is largely irrelevant for medical providers – with the possible exception of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and dentists. If your medical practice specializes in something that has visible – and PG-13! – results, along with patients willing to serve as visual testimonials, Instagram is a great place to “show off” your work. If your patients don’t want to share, or you want to be ultra-conservative regarding HIPAA regulations, Instagram is still a great way to share diagrams, images, and mock-ups.
Yes, social media can take some time, and it definitely takes practice – but don’t give up, because it can be a real business booster. Just DON’T FORGET HIPAA! (I’m not yelling at you – HIPAA is just that important.) You can share all you want on your social media accounts – that is, all you want that doesn’t violate privacy laws.
Want to get involved with social media but aren’t sure where to start? Give us a call!