Synopsis – Social Media for Medical Professionals:
Social Media is not a panacea but is now an integral part of all practice marketing and bedside manner. Regardless of who you are, what your practice is, who your patients are and where they come from, Social Media must be integrated with the website. Further, your online reputation is going to be vital to your practice – the key is knowing when, how and why to respond to patient reviews, how to handle them on the web and use them as a marketing tool. Your personal profile as a physician and the personality of the practice must be ‘felt’ across your website and in your tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn profile, etc. How can a doctor make a website an integral part of his/her practice and patient care? By using simple language – no jargon – and being human!
Building a web presence:
The key to building a successful web presence for any MD, hospital, medispa, dentist, etc., is that you should NEVER even think of doing the website yourself. D.I.Y. is for gardening and car repairs – it has no place in marketing if you want professional, measurable results.
Remember: lack of focus = lack of message = lack of results
One of the key problems with practice sites is that they are no longer like “wind-up” toys – just set it up and let it run – they are now long-term strategic marketing projects. Sites need to integrate with other marketing activities and vice versa. Classic symptoms of this are ignoring the reality of how Social Media for Medical Professionals should be integrated, and by not including web addresses, Twitter names, Facebook links, etc. on correspondence, brochures, business cards or newsletters — or publishing a website that looks even vaguely different from your branding messages.
Find ways to tell your patients and prospective patients about your site, follow-up immediately with inbound email or phone messages, and maintain the site with content updates and appropriate refinements. Pay someone to do it. You will not regret it … The nexus you create around your site and with your social media presence is a serious element of your overall Marketing Plan – and will help your practice grow, prosper and thrive.
Going forward, your website and your online presence needs to be a balance of patient and practice. Here are some of the main things that you are beginning to see now, but will be a necessity in 2013-2014:
- EHR integration including online records access, scheduling and prescription refills
- Health education via website and integrated social channels
- Customer support beyond a phone number in the billing department
- Projection of the “personality” of the practice (read: integrates with marketing and branding)
- Dejargonization (but not dumbing down of medicine)
- Extending the “bedside manner” via community involvement and development
- (One could hope for price transparency…)
The Next Great Thing:
Social media will be vitally important, too — it is not a panacea but has already become an integral part of practice marketing and your ‘virtual’ bedside manner. It helps maintain your online reputation and it helps keep patients informed of various practice ‘goings on’. Online reputation management is becoming more and more vital to doctors, too – this means having the sense and sensibility of knowing when, how and why to respond to negative patient reviews – and how to show dignity whenever you may see them on the web (without having to grow rhino skin).
The true personality of your practice must also now be ‘felt’ on your website and through your total online presence. This means spending 25-30 minutes a week with your marketing support person (or an outsourced partner) to draft blog posts, Facebook posts or a few Tweets about the practice and what is happening. It could be a chance to disclose personal experiences and aspirations for the practice. If you show humanity within your online nature, then that should come across from your website, your in-person bedside manner and be reflected in your online reputation.