Can you think of the last time you pulled out a phone book to look up the number for a vendor? Why would you when you could simply type the name or category that you’re looking for into Google Search? As a physician keep in mind that patients, consumers and other users are searching for you in the same manner.
Having a clinic on Main Street isn’t enough anymore. Online is the place to be – and not just having a website, but using social media networks as well. The question you should ask yourself is, “Why wouldn’t I want to have an engaging online presence to connect with potential patients and peers?”
Here are four reasons why medical professionals should use social media marketing to interact with online users:
#1. Your patients are looking for you online. Make sure they find you.
When it comes to looking for a new primary care physician, specialist or treatment facility, people are using Google and Yahoo as the first line of research. Google yourself and make sure that what you see is correct. Create a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile for yourself so that potential patients can connect with you. Make yourself visible in an accurate and positive way that markets your practice.
#2. Communication is fast and instant.
How expensive is it to have someone create a mailer or brochure and then mail it out to thousands of people? How long does it take to be successful with direct mail? Using social media is fast and can reach thousands of people in a very short time. The more social media networking sites that you use the more opportunity for you to attract and reach more potential patients.
Social media is also an excellent way for physicians to provide information to patients on important topics pertaining to their specialties. Treatment philosophies and educational opportunities that physicians experience are often worth sharing. Why not do it in an open forum that can reach people instantly?
#3. Social networking is a free outlet to educate.
Taking a few minutes each day or every few days to post helpful content on social media sites is an easy way to continue to communicate with current patients and reach out to new ones —all for free. Updates and articles create an opportunity to inform and raise awareness on health issues. Social media gives a voice to patients and allows for interesting conversations to develop with their doctors and other health care professionals.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation, of the 74% of adults who use the internet:
- 80% of internet users have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. This translates to 59% of all adults.
- 34% of internet users, or 25% of adults, have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
- 25% of internet users, or 19% of adults, have watched an online video about health or medical issues.
These findings came from a national telephone survey conducted in August and September 2010 among 3,001 adults in the U.S.
#4. Build a relationship with your community.
Physicians can use social media to build relationships with an online community of peers or client sin their local area. Sharing a valuable health advice and wellness practices with an online audience can help you connect with them, create a trusting environment and even market your practice at the same time.
Recent case studies show that up to 65% of physicians are online and using social media networking for their practices. Social media can benefit new patients as they get to know physicians, as well as physicians connecting with potential and current patients and peers. The ability to connect instantly with an ever-growing community is one of the best marketing tools we have today.
YOUR TURN: How are you using social media in your practice to connect with patients or peers?