Social Media Marketing for the Medical Practice
I recently read a fabulous article about social media marketing for dentists by Dr. Jason Lipscomb.
The article states that dentists have been very slow in adopting social media as a tool for marketing their practice, preferring to stick with traditional marketing methods, such as direct mail, because that’s what’s always worked. However, the traditional marketing methods aren’t working so well anymore.
Social media has actually been around since the launch of MySpace in January of 2004, and Facebook in February of 2004. But it was really the invention of Twitter in 2006 and the adoption of Facebook by the general public that has fanned the flames of the current social media firestorm.
According to statistics, Facebook grew over 145% last year with over 42 million active users, in the United States; 55% of those users are women. Twitter boasts of 28 million users in the United States with 54% of them being female. Furthermore, 70% of Twitter users are over the age of 25. This information is very important because we know that women over the age of 25 determine as much as 80% of healthcare decisions made in their homes.
The Internet has become the medium of choice for researching information and finding products of services for over 90% of the people in the United States. And social media is an important part of how your practice can get found on the web. Doctors who are not using social media as part of their marketing strategy are making a huge mistake, and will soon find themselves left behind in terms of patient acquisition. Here are a few points.
- Social media, especially Twitter, is highly indexed by Google and other search engines. Every time you post on social media, or someone else does referencing you, it gives your website valuable “Google Juice” and therefore has the ability to increase your search engine rankings.
- Social media increases your visibility and credibility with prospects and customers alike. And the more visible and credible you are, the more profitable you will be.
- Social media allows you to monitor the environment, to see what people want so you can provide it to them. It allows you to monitor your brand, and create brand recognition, and respond to those people who are talking about you.
- The public likes social media because it gives them a voice. They are able to interact with celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, brands, like Starbucks, and organizations, like The White House, on a one-on-one basis, like never before!
- The public likes social media because it provides real time news. They learn about what’s going on in their world before they see it on TV, and they hear it straight from the source. In fact, 85% off the media now monitor Twitter to find out breaking news, news sources, and story ideas.
- Social media is not going away.
The fact is; your prospects and patients are using social media practically every day! Why aren’t you?
Here are 4 tips for how you can get started leveraging this powerful tool in your medical practice.
1. Make social media an integral and consistent part of your marketing strategy.. The social media task is not so time consuming and cumbersome that your marketing assistant couldn’t add it to his or her responsibilities. It literally could take just a few minutes a day to manage, but reap profitable benefits.
2. Start with Twitter. For the goal of finding and attracting new patients, I recommend you start with Twitter. It’s as simple as going to the website: http://twitter.com and filling some limited information.
There are four fields you need to fill out; full name, user name, password and email. I recommend that for full name, use the dentists’s name, i.e., Dr. Steve Franklin, because that’s what people will type into Google if they are trying to find out more about you. For user name, use your practice name, i.e., Happy Smiles Dentistry. And then use your general medical practice email address and create your password.
3. Find followers: I recommend you follow people based on their geographic location. If your office is based in Kalamazoo, then follow people who are in Kalamazoo. However, if you know that your patient base is in two cities, then follow people in both of those cities.
The best place to find people is at the website Twellow.com http://www.twellow.com. This website is basically the “yellow pages” of Twitter. Here you can find just about anybody who is registered on Twitter by searching by “Twellowhood” (location) or categories of interests.
Secret: It’s better to follow someone who has less than 2,000 followers because it’s more likely that you will be visible to them.. Just make sure they have used Twitter within the last 30 days. (Usually the date of their last “tweet” is posted.) The etiquette is that once you follow someone, they should follow you back.
4. Engage, don’t push. Lastly, think of Twitter like a big party that anyone can go to. You don’t go to a party to sell to people, you go to be social, to get to know them. The same is true with Twitter. Don’t talk about dentistry all the time. Talk about what’s going on in the office, the neat things your patients are doing or saying; the cool things your staff are doing.. Be personal, but not too personal. Pay attention to the conversation going on in Twitter and reply to real people. Answer their questions, comment on their comments. Just be real.
Used correctly, social media will become a very important new tool in your marketing toolbox.