There are some considerable benefits for medical practices that establish a strong presence on social media. These platforms aren’t just for posting pictures from your vacation or sharing memes; they are vital marketing tools that can help improve and increase:
- Search engine optimization for your website
- Online reviews of your practice
- Lead generation
- Brand awareness
- Website traffic
- Online reputation management
In fact, medical practices that do not have a strong social media presence are likely to fall behind competitors who are more socially active. More and more medical practices are becoming socially savvy, using these platforms to share information, educate prospects, market their services and advertise special offers or events. Even if you’re not feeling the pressure to become more socially active, it’s time to take the plunge into the wide world of social media platforms. Here are some dos and don’ts to help guide you along the way.
Do – Reach out to your patients
Many of your patients are already online and active on social media. Your patients are probably spending at least an hour or two every day logged into one of the social media platforms. Encourage your patients to connect with you on social media by communicating your presence on these sites through emails, newsletters and in your office. You can establish yourself as an authority in your field of expertise while making invaluable connections not only with your current patients but also with others who may need your services. Assuming your social posts are interesting, your posts can get shared with friends and family, creating a viral effect that can boost your bottom line. Your practice will become a trusted resource for information. Ultimately, this will translate into more patients trusting you for medical care when they are ready to take action.
Do – Identify your online goals
One of the most important aspects of establishing an online presence is to define your goals for using social media. For example, you may wish to achieve one or more of these goals:
- Increase new leads to your practice by __% (be specific)
- Increase revenue by __% (be specific)
- Increase patient loyalty and boost referrals by __% (be specific)
- Increase positive online reviews by __% (be specific)
- Improve your standing in the community
- Establish a new practice and promote brand awareness
Do some research to learn which of the social media platforms and types of social media engagement/advertising will be best suited to achieve your specific goals.
Do – Make it fun
When you do get involved with social media, you don’t want it to seem like drudgery or just more administrative work that you’re required to do. If you’re completely new to social media, it’s a good idea to start out with a personal account on one of the platforms before establishing a business account. This will let you learn the ropes and have some fun with it before you actually start using social media to promote your business. If this is just completely out of your comfort zone, consider hiring an expert to manage all of your social media work to ensure this tool for your strategic goals is activated.
Do – Set time for social media
If you do not have one person or a team of people that are specifically assigned to the task of maintaining your social media presence, the requirements of your practice’s day to day responsibilities may push these projects down the To Do list. It’s important to stay on top of social media every day: making frequent posts, monitoring patient feedback/reviews, assessing your competitor’s online presence and more. Staying social is an important part of your marketing efforts.
Don’t – Overlook your social media presence for long periods of time
Once you’ve established some kind of social media presence, you need to constantly cultivate the relationships you have built and seek to engage as much as possible with your followers. If you abandon your social media presence for a considerable amount of time, you may appear flighty or untrustworthy. Worse yet, you will be invisible to people who may actually need your services. Invisibility of your practice means more visibility for your competitors (if they are socially active). Users need to feel comfortable with you even if they don’t quite consider you a friend. A big part of that comes from the steady interaction you supply when you make frequent posts online.
Don’t – Violate HIPAA regulations
It’s a good idea to continually remind/train your staff members about HIPAA rules regarding online medical information. Any time your staff is engaging with patients on social media, HIPAA regulations must be strictly observed. Make sure all your staff members are aware that comments related to office matters or about specific patients on social media are taboo.
Don’t – Let personal and professional matters overlap
You should make it a firm policy to keep your personal and professional social media accounts separate and you should avoid friending patients on your personal social media pages. The idea here is that you don’t want patients being privy to your personal life; you do want them to view you as a professional.
Don’t – Provide medical advice online
It’s never a good idea to share health information or to give out specific medical advice when you’re active on social media. If any patients do ask you for medical advice or if they ask personal health questions while you’re online, you should direct them to schedule an appointment at your office so the questions can be answered by a qualified physician.
Don’t – Share patient details online
Practices need to be aware that there is a potential for creating a HIPAA issue if you acknowledge that any particular person is a patient at your practice. There is some grey area here if a person writes an online review of your practice and willingly shares personal information. Whether positive or negative, it is important to respond to the comment in general terms to avoid any HIPAA violations. If responding to a negative review, invite the person to schedule a phone call or in-office appointment to discuss the situation in detail instead of sharing specific details online.
Do – Get social media help if you need it
Keeping up with social media requires constant attention and monitoring. If your medical practice is finding it challenging to know how to start with social media, how to set social media goals or how to manage the entire process, Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, can help. We have developed The Administrative Advantage MSO®, a Management Services Organization that includes resources to jump start your social media marketing for medical practices. We have identified businesses that have a strong track record of success in helping ophthalmology and other types of medical specialties hone their social media marketing skills and boost their revenues in the process.
Medical marketing is just one of the many medical resources under our MSO umbrella. Members can access a huge variety of pre-selected and pre-screened companies offering marketing, billing services, medical products, technology, recruitment and much more. It’s a one-stop shop for just about everything you need to run your practice day-to-day. Best of all, MSO members get significant savings on these services and products.
To learn more about how our MSO can help your practice become more social in 2019, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration today.