Social media applications are powerful informational and marketing tools. Knowing which social media platforms work the best to benefit your patients and clients will go a long way towards getting the inbound business you are looking for.
Did you know that 81% of Americans use the internet on a regular basis? And, of those regular internet users, 59% say they have used it to search for health related information within the past year. Let’s do the math: with just under 314 million people, according to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, that makes about 251 million people who out there surfing the world wide web. Of those, at least 125.5 million of them are using it to search for health-related information. So we ask you, what is your healthcare practice doing to leverage social media marketing strategies to reach all of those prospective clients?
Even with stringent HIPPA regulations, you can still set up social media campaigns designed to boost your business without ever breaking the law, or infringing on your patients’ confidentiality rights. So let’s get started and talk about the social media platforms that are the most likely to bring benefits for healthcare practices.
The Blogosphere. Blogs should be a top priority for your healthcare practice. They offer a way to provide regular, informative, and customer-oriented information, while designing all of that great information around your keyword campaigns. Your ultimate goal is to become an authority in your health-related field. This can be difficult to do using social media interfaces with smaller text limitations. While other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be used to share small factoids, blogs and websites are where most people go to read in-depth information about their healthcare topics of choice.
Another bonus of blogs is that they allow you to share your voice with prospective clients. Creating a unified voice, and personality, is part of developing your healthcare practice’s brand. Obviously, you will want to maintain a professional overall tone, but you can tweak that a bit to suit your style. Is your practice more based in western medicine? Are you all out Yin and Yangers? Are you a mix of both? These elements should come through your website and blog “voice” Maintaining a consistent brand presence is important so let your website and blog set the tone, and filter the rest of your social media campaigns through that.
While keyword campaigns are important, don’t forget that relevant, easy to read, content is the most important component for best SEO practices. You want to be a trusted resource, not a source of confusion or obvious solicitation. Blogging at least two to three times per week is the best way to boost your website rankings.
Getcher Face on Facebook. It’s true that a smaller percentage of the aforementioned internet users are searching for healthcare information on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but that’s no reason to scrap them altogether. That minority group, which is bound to grow over time, can’t find you at all if you aren’t there. Develop your Facebook presence and use it to your advantage. Post beneficial health-related information: Free Mammogram Mondays! Five Tips for Surviving Allergy Season Without Meds! Forgo the Flu Shot and Get Good Sleep! Whatever your message may be.
Also, even though they aren’t looking for information, per se, there is a hefty percentage of people who look for support groups to find others experiencing the same conditions/treatments they are. Your Facebook page can allow others to connect with one another to form sub-communities of their own. Contrary to what many believe, your Facebook posts, for both your practice and the community, can be public or private. This allows for a freer information flow. It also allows patients to share their stories, which is a powerful community builder as well.
A Tweet a Day…Create a Twitter account and start tweeting the healthcare facts and statistics we need to know about, as well as some good old fashioned promotional stuff for your own benefit. You are limited to 140-characters, so Tweets need to be short and to the point, but they keep your clients in the loop. You are much more likely to see a repeat patient if they are reminded of you regularly via their Twitter feed. It shows you care.
Once you have The Big Three in place, you can begin exploring other social media platforms such as YouTube, audio podcasts, Tumblr, and more…and there will be many more to come, so keep yourself in the the social media loop. For now, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter can help you become a caring and authoritative expert, while also creating a voice and community hub for your patients. So go out there at get digitally social, you won’t regret it.