16 Oct Stand Out on Social Media
The way patients find their healthcare providers are changing. Gone are the days when a physician will recommend a specialist and the patient blindly schedules an appointment based on trust and good faith. Not because referring physicians are no longer reliable sources but because the Internet has made it easy for a patient to conduct their own research, listening to reviews both positive and negative and comparing physician results to other competing physicians in their areas.
Patients have come to expect unprecedented access to their physicians, especially through technology-based means; a large part of that is social media. Many physicians are wary of testing the waters that have the potential to open them up to legal risk and possibly blemish their reputation however; refusing to embrace social media may ultimately harm your practice. Younger, tech-smart patients (you know, the ones with the commercial insurance coverage) are most likely to opt for a physician that has a recent image of themselves, a website and some outstanding, reliable-looking reviews.
One of the best reasons for using social media is that you can reach your patients where they are increasingly active — online. Smartphones and other mobile devices are universal, and, in a sense, a more sophisticated vehicle for word-of-mouth marketing. Patients continue to ask each other for the name of a good pediatrician or family doctor, but are now doing so online.
When it comes to social media here are some top tips on how to be successful:
- Maintain your accounts. Update daily, if possible. (But DON’T update so much that your posts become white noise.)
- Share articles, videos, blog posts and other content that people in your target industry, or at your target organization(s), will find useful.
- Promote yourself. Share your accomplishments, articles you’ve written, professional challenges you’ve overcome, etc. (But DON’T come across as a bragger. It’s a fine line.)
- Engage your peers, both current and future. Ask and answer questions, join conversations and groups, comment on others’ updates, retweet, etc.
- Remember whom you are talking to. On Facebook, for example, you are sharing information with everyone that you have added as a friend. On Twitter you are sharing information with everyone… period. Twitter is a public network.
- Check – and be sure you completely understand – privacy settings.
- Present yourself with consistency. Ensure your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio and Facebook page show the same job histories and expertise.
- Network in fertile soil. That is, make sure you are interacting in trusted communities.
Many physicians are unreasonably afraid of establishing a social media presence online. As long as physicians maintain good practices, like not posting protected health information (PHI), they’ll be fine.
There are a few social media pitfalls that physicians should be on the lookout for. Here are some things to be mindful of:
- Guard against HIPAA violations. It is important to protect your practice and patients against HIPAA violations. Your office policy should dictate that staff is not to comment about patients or office-related matters on their personal social media accounts.
- Don’t blur professional and personal profiles. Physicians should never combine personal and professional social media accounts. They should be kept strictly separate.
- Never give specific medical advice online. It is best to direct patients to call the office if they wish to speak with a physician.
- Don’t acknowledge a physician-patient relationship. Another pitfall that physicians need to be aware of is acknowledging online that a person is their patient. Simply acknowledging that somebody is your particular patient can create a HIPAA issue
- Don’t neglect to proofread your social media posts as carefully as you would your resume.
- Don’t forget that people may have a different sense of humor. What you may think is funny may sound obnoxious to others.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to manage a social media campaign, ClickMD Marketing is here to help. We can get you setup correctly, sync your social sites, provide valuable content related to your specialty, and distribute your content on multiple platforms to manage your reputation and build your brand.
Contact ClickMD Marketing if you are interested in getting started with Social Media Marketing.