Doctors and other health practitioners are beginning to take full advantage of social media tools. By engaging in physician-only or peer-to-peer online social media applications to communicate with colleagues, they have found new vehicles to problem-solve and exchange clinical information.
Some examples of practitioner-only networks include Sermo and Doximity for physicians, radRounds for radiologists, and dermRounds for dermatologists.
When it comes to marketing on a broader scale and beyond your industry, popular social networks could be the way to go. Here are some social media tools and networks that can help you build your brand and boost your reach.
If you are looking to create a public presence in social networks, a good place to start is LinkedIn. Creating a profile on LinkedIn consists of filling out simple forms to build a well-formatted resume or CV that can be as detailed as you want it to be. If you’re looking to market your practice, LinkedIn offers a free Company Page for your business.
Enhance your profile on LinkedIn by uploading files including documents and slide presentations. Post updates regularly to both your profile and your Page and include links to content you’ve read or written and want to share with your connections. Expand your network by providing and asking for Endorsements and Recommendations, similar to references and testimonials.
Further expand your reach and networking on LinkedIn by joining a LinkedIn Group. The AMA has a large group on LinkedIn, as do other healthcare organizations.
Facebook , Twitter
If you can handle a social network that requires more content and attention, building a presence on Facebook or Twitter could be beneficial. But don’t use your personal Facebook profile as your business presence. Instead, set up a Facebook Page for your practice, and invite your current Facebook friends and email contacts to “Like” your Page.
On Twitter, set up an account that represents you or your practice and follow relevant people, organizations and companies on the network for marketing and informational purposes. Both of these popular social networks can help with your marketing outreach. You can use both presences as gateways to direct people to your website and other more direct methods of communication.
YouTube , Instagram , Pinterest
With the affordability and ubiquity of digital cameras and video recording devices, especially smartphones and tablets, you can produce images and videos to easily upload to popular social networks and image and video sharing sites like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Use images and video for everything from patient education and procedure demonstrations to commercials and testimonials.
Take advantage of free Google offerings such as a Google+ Business Page for your practice. By choosing the “local business” category, you can verify your business location and improve how your practice shows up in local Google searches. Google also offers advertising across their networks including their search engine and YouTube.
The review site Yelp has expanded to offer reviews of any local business - including medical and other health practices. Create a listing for your business on Yelp so users can locate your practice as well as peruse patient reviews. Your free Yelp business account lets you also post photos and messages to the public. Patients may also “check in” at your office on Yelp or other social networks like Facebook.
Social Media Dashboards
Social media marketing takes time regardless of which channel you use. If you’re managing multiple social networks, use a tool such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial or MarketMeSuite to consolidate how you monitor and communicate on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more.
Even if you use social media networks, keep building your email list. Most people are happy to provide you with their email addresses to keep in touch. Direct people to join your email list from the social networks you're now using. You can even embed subscription forms into your Facebook Page, website or blog.
While some physicians do blog, doing so means preparing enough content to turn your blog into a fruitful marketing tool. If this isn’t for you, posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ can replace the need for a full-blown blog.
With proper planning, a consistent routine and the right tools, engaging in social media marketing can benefit any health practitioner and practice.