For years, health care practitioners have avoided embarking on the social media highway, primarily due to patient HIPAA privacy issues and the time needed to give the process due diligence. The tides have turned; from hospitals to laboratories to yes, even chiropractors, practices are jumping on the bandwagon in droves.
If your practice doesn’t have a mobile-responsive website, a Facebook page and/or group, or a Twitter following, your competition will be nipping at your heels and those of your patients before you know it.
The No. 1 DON’T: Lack of a Presence
Consumers, including health care consumers, choose not to be sold to any longer. Today’s savvy buyer prefers to be informed, especially when it comes to health care. With the advent of online grading systems and reviews, health care providers who lack a social presence are beginning to see dips in patient retention and a slowdown in new practice members.
Social Media Best Practices for Your Practice: Do’s and Don’ts
Let’s assume you have everything mentioned above. Here are some best practices to make sure you are not only compliant, but also getting the best bang for your buck.
DO think like your patients. What would they find interesting? What would they like to read, hear or view? Eighty percent of your content should have nothing to do with what you are selling. Sure, it’s fine to have a blog about what happens during an adjustment, but you can’t have all your content focus on the technical aspects of chiropractic care.
Consider having a section on your website on the benefits of exercise and healthy eating, with workout plans and menus. Share content from trusted third-party sources such as nutritionists, exercise specialists, health coaches – the key is to think outside the box and put yourself in your patients’ shoes.
DO be consistent. A big reason providers don’t get the results they want from social media is that 1) their content isn’t relevant to their patients; and 2) they aren’t consistent with their postings. You should aim to post at least daily on your social channels, and at least weekly for blogs and emails.
DO cross-promote. This isn’t “Field of Dreams”; you can’t just build a Facebook page and people will magically appear and give you five-star reviews. You need to invite people to follow your social feeds. How? Via other social feeds, literature in your practice, word of mouth, and the best way – email marketing. Note: Make sure you have links in each email to your social channels on your website.
DO have a process. We are fans of creating editorial and content calendars so you are crystal clear as to what you are going to be focusing on each month, week, day and sometimes hour. Use a spreadsheet. First, put in any events or dates you know need attention – such as health awareness months or nonprofit endeavors in which your practice is involved. Then backfill with curated and created content.
DO follow to be followed. Don’t forget to follow centers of influence, colleagues and patients on Twitter, LinkedIn and even other Facebook pages. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by those who follow you back. In turn, you also want to share, like and comment on other people’s content. The more you engage on your social sites, the more people will engage back.
DON’T forget the people side of things. Selfies and live videos will always get higher engagement than static posts. Humans are voyeuristic by nature and love watching others! Take pics of your team in and out of the office. Note: if you are taking pics of a patient, have them sign a media release to ensure HIPAA compliance.
DO automate, but DON’T “set it and forget it.” Consider using a tool such as Hootsuite to automate your social media posting process, but don’t just load a month’s worth of content and never monitor your accounts.
DON’T delete negative comments. The best way to aggravate an unhappy patient is to delete or ignore a negative comment they’ve made on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Acknowledge their frustration publicly; then ask them to take the conversation offline. Eighty percent of the time, these things can be resolved.
If you do have a troller – someone who you cannot make happy and is just out to make your life miserable – delete and block them. But do so only after you have done due diligence to make the patient happy.
DO be authentic. Prospective patients want to see the human behind the doctor. They want to know what your support staff is really like. Be authentic and transparent. Show the real you!
Turn Social Media Into Practice Growth
Having a successful social media presence isn’t complicated, but it does take time and patience. A solid process, a key point person to oversee your marketing, and an open mind go a long way to ensuring high engagement and prospect conversion into loyal patients.
Rob Berman is a partner at Berman Partners, LLC, a medical device sales, service and marketing company. He has held a variety of marketing roles during his career. Rob can be contacted by phone at 860-707-4220 or by email at . His company website for new lasers is www.bermanpartners.com and for used lasers www.usedlasercenter.com.
Cindy Donaldson is president and CEO of Red Barn Consulting, a strategic marketing, sales and business operations consulting firm. Contact her at 860-469-8090.