Are you wondering how your dermatology practice can draw in more patients?
Social media is the ideal platform to share your brand’s story, connect directly with target audiences and influence their opinion about your practice.
For consumers at large, social media is not only a source of health information but also is representative of a growing movement in healthcare — one where the patient has more control of the conversation.
Social media networking has expanded the dialogue about health far beyond the doctor’s office. Patients who share a particular health condition such as eczema, acne or even skin cancer can now talk directly to each other, share their experiences, encourage one another and even recommend doctors or treatments that have worked for them.
Dermatologists would do well to recognize the practical applications and benefits of using social media to influence patient perceptions about their practices.
Here are some of the benefits for dermatologists who choose to use social media:
1. Compelling numbers
With more than 1 billion active users on Facebook, 500 million on Twitter, 225 million on LinkedIn and 48.7 million on Pinterest, the chances that potential patients are hanging out on any of these platforms is very high and your chances of connecting directly with your ideal audience is guaranteed.
2. Amplify your message
A recent study from Pew Research Center shows that 81 percent of adults in the United States use the Internet to look for health information. Even though they start their search on Google, they’re more likely to find your online content if you have shared it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and especially Google+.
In fact, the more others share your content on social media, the higher the visibility it will get on search engines, thus increasing your brand’s exposure and potentially impacting a much wider audience.
3. High traffic
When you post an interesting update on your social media networks and include a link back to your site, people will invariably click on the link to learn more about that topic. The more interesting the update the more people will click on it.
This means you will receive high referral traffic from those social platforms to your website. Make sure that your blog pages have social sharing buttons that allow visitors to share your content with their networks, thus increasing your Web traffic even more.
4. Connect personally with target audience
Social media allows you to connect personally and directly with potential patients. In fact, on Facebook you can define your ideal target audience by age, gender, location educational status, interests, and even terms they have shared on Facebook.
If you use these targeting options wisely you will see a big difference in the way people interact with your posts.
5. Influence patients’ perceptions
Whether you use social media or not, it’s important to realize that your patients do, and may be talking about your practice whether you know it or not.
When you participate in social media, you can join in those conversations and thus influence the way people think about your practice. Positive experiences can be reinforced, while negative experiences can be turned around.
Tips to get started with social media
Blogging is associated with social media because blog articles, which represent your brand’s message, are usually shared with a wider audience on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others.
Regular blogging can help people find your website faster when they look for a topic or solution that describes what you do. For SEO purposes, try to blog at least once or twice a week, focusing on topics that appeal to potential patients. Use simple, clear language and avoid using jargon or unexplained medical terms.
Start out by posting two Facebook updates each day — morning and afternoon. Your morning post should consist of educational content such as a link to an article on your blog that explains ‘How to treat and manage acne.’
Your afternoon post should be a more fun and engaging post to encourage interaction (“likes” and comments) from your audience. The more interactions you get on your Facebook page, the more visibility your social posts will get on your fans’ newsfeed. Check out these tips for promoting your practice with Facebook.
Try to send out at least 10 to 15 tweets each day spaced out at regular intervals. Hashtags (symbol used for grouping online conversations) are becoming more ubiquitous, so try to find a hashtag that followers can use to identify your brand’s message e.g. #exfoliation, #summerskin etc. Also check out these tips to help you NOT waste time on Twitter!
If you’re not familiar with hashtags, head on over to the Healthcare Hashtag Project and review some of the existing hashtags used to categorize healthcare conversations on Twitter. You can pick one or two that match the message your brand wants to be known for.
Active use of social media can help boost business for dermatology practices. If you’re inexperienced with social media, begin with small steps (by starting a blog, and using at least Facebook and Twitter).
Try to observe what other brands similar to yours are doing online. You can also partner with social media consultants or marketing firms with exclusive focus on promoting healthcare brands.
Is your dermatology practice on board with social media? If not, what obstacles are preventing you from getting started?
**This article was first published on Dermatology Times on September 1st 2013.