6 Tips for Using Content Marketing & Social Media for Any Doctor

Are you a doctor who’s interested in learning how content and social media marketing can help grow your practice?

For decades doctors were able to get away without investing too much money in advertising or marketing. Then when the Internet changed everything, many of you started to use (and are still using) costly methods of online advertising to market your practices e.g. banner ads.

The problem is patients have completely tuned out to some these tactics and developed chronic cases such as banner blindness.

According to Pew Research, today’s patients are increasingly turning towards the Internet to find information (not advertisements) about symptoms, treatment and support. That means if you want patients to find you when they go online, you need to be involved in content marketing and social media.

And in case you’re wondering how social media and content marketing are related here’s what you should know…

Both are about educating people, answering their questions, and sharing interesting news about your practice. When you do this primarily on your blog it is content marketing

But there’s more.

Social media promotion is critical to online content marketing success. Because there are millions of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social sites, it is very likely that people who need your medical expertise (yet don’t know that your blog exists!) are hanging out there.

The best way to reach them is by taking the stories that you’ve posted on your blog and placing them in these sites.

It’s that easy?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, because once you have all your content ready, all you have to do is promote it on your social media networks. But preparation is key.

Social media is a very active space. There are a lot of interesting conversations taking place at the same time and since your target audience has a short attention span, they can get distracted very easily.

The challenge for you as a doctor using social media, is that you have to be more interesting and more creative than the other people or brands in your target audience’s network!

How do you that?

Here are 6 content marketing and social media success tips for your medical practice.

#1. Blog Regularly

If you don’t already have one, develop an editorial calendar to help you blog regularly and consistently. Remember too that social media content benefits from planning and regular updating.

You need to plan for the interesting stories that you will share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Of course many of these stories will be inspired from your blog, but once in a while you may also need to add other content (photos, video, podcasts etc.) to engage audiences within those specific networks.

#2. Tell Awesome Stories

Use your blog to tell stories about your industry, practice, people and events. Each story should be unique and interesting enough to create appeal and draw new audiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites that you use.

Human-interest stories are very popular on social media. As a doctor, you have no shortage of such stories although you have to be careful not to violate patient privacy. Patient stories help to illustrate how your practice is impacting people’s lives, and thus generates more interest from other online audiences.

#3. Execute well

Even though 99% of patient stories are interesting by default, how you execute them on social media is very important.

For example on Facebook and Pinterest, posting visually appealing and well-edited photos will go much farther than posting links to your blog. On Twitter you will need different executions skills such as how to craft a compelling tweet with 140 characters, or how to use relevant hashtags to make it easy for people to find your content.

Every social media platform is different. It’s important for you to learn those environments and leverage their unique features to reach a wider audience with your message.

#4. Include location

One of your primary marketing goals is to attract more patients to your practice. So start by creating or updating your Facebook page, Twitter profile and Pinterest account and adding your physical location and your contact information.

When patients come in for their appointment, encourage them to ‘check-in’ to your location using Facebook Places.

Checking-in on Facebook has the same effect as word-of-mouth marketing. When a Facebook user sees (on her Newsfeed) that her friend (your patient) has checked into your location, she’ll be curious to learn more about your practice and will probably click through to your Facebook Page for more information.

#5. Work on your ‘About’ section

The ‘About’ section of your Facebook page should be optimized with keyword rich names, categories and descriptions. The words you use to describe your practice should reflect the natural conversational language that your audience uses. This will increase the likelihood of appearing on Facebook’s Graph Search results.

Similarly, the ‘About’ page of your website should not just focus on keywords that match the medical conditions you treat, but also on answering questions that typical patients would ask. Think about some of the common questions that your patients have asked in the past and update your About page with content that provides those answers.

#6. Consider contests, promotions & giveaways

Contests, promotions and giveaways are very effective ways of acquiring new clients via social media. Because contests can produce outstanding results, it’s important that you make yours stand out by offering a prize that will create excitement and enthusiasm among your audience. Giving away a free iPad has nothing to do with your practice, so don’t bother.

You can give away a relevant product with a ‘limited time only’ message to create a sense of urgency and interest. Avoid giving away free services as this might encourage people not to buy until they find out if they’ve won. To ensure high participation encourage Facebook fans to submit photos of themselves, or share stories for a chance to win.

Your Turn:

Which of these content and social media tips have you used to market your medical practice? Please share your experience in the comment box below.

Millennials, Brands and Digital Content [Infographic]

Jay (not real name) is a 26-year old grad student from Chicago. He is single, is active on Facebook, Twitter and Flavors.me. His favorite websites, newspapers, magazines or TV shows are: The Economist, The Onion, Slate.com, Theoatmeal.com, Xkcd.com and Dexter.

Jay has this advice for companies who want to truly reach him and his friends:

“Take time to engage with us. Don’t just push your message, but listen as well. Social media networks make this very easy for you but they’re often misused or underused by companies like yours. Prompt a response, a discussion and relate your company to someone’s life. Don’t be afraid to step outside your specific product and go for the bigger message to which we can relate and participate.”

Millennial conusmers a.k.a. digital natives, are fast becoming a very influential group of consumers. Brands like yours can no longer afford to ignore them.

We created this infographic (information sourced from Edelman/StrategyOne) to give you a better understanding of millenial consumers like Jay and to illustrate their relationship with other millennials, with business brands and with digital content:

Over to you: What steps are you taking to engage with millennial consumers like Jay?

Do Healthcare CEO’s ‘Like’ Social Media?

We often hear that healthcare CEO’s don’t like social media.

It’s true they have traditionally rolled their eyes at social media. It’s equally true that healthcare has lagged behind when it comes to reaching out to consumers. In fact the industry didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet when disruptive technologies such as smart phones and social media made their respective debuts several years ago.

But now PwC has come out with a new survey indicating that healthcare CEO’s are changing their minds.

Healthcare getting social

Healthcare businesses have indeed moved beyond their casual experimentation with social media. Brands such as Cleveland Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital and many others are integrating social media into their broader marketing and patient engagement efforts.

Not only that.

Conferences dedicated exclusively to healthcare social media marketing such as Mayo Clinic’s ‘Social Media Summit’ are cropping up everywhere and even the ‘Healthcare Hashtag Project’ was invented to keep track of various healthcare conversations on Twitter.

What healthcare CEO’s now know is that they are no longer in control of the conversation. In order to remain relevant their businesses have to engage in the kind of human, sociable and even likeable conversations that patients want – like a friend talking to a friend.

That means blogging more and marketing less. It means posting Facebook updates that are not only about their products, but about the dreams and lifestyles of their patients as well.

Coming full circle

As the idea of patient experience becomes increasingly important in healthcare marketing, CEO’s are beginning to see how social media can help with patient acquisition and retention. According to the PwC survey 81% of them plan to make changes designed to increase engagement with social media users.

Social media platforms especially Facebook and Twitter present the opportunity not only to address common concerns and frustrations that patients face e.g. parking issues, long wait times or how to get test results, but also to converse with them in a way that could turn a negative experience into a positive one.

For healthcare CEO’s who have come full circle their ‘big opportunity’ is to support training programs that empower employees to use social media in a way that improves patient experience, protects patient privacy and avoids communication that could potentially harm the organization’s reputation. Otherwise, the fact that they’re beginning to ‘like’ social media is in itself a huge step.

Your Turn: What role do you think CEO’s play in the future of healthcare social media marketing?

Facebook Interest Lists: How to Take Control of Your News feed

It’s getting harder and harder to see the content you like on your Facebook news feed.

And it’s not just because of the one billion users sharing the platform. Among them are millions of business pages competing for your eyeballs in the form of promoted posts, ads, offers etc.

If you’re using Facebook to market your own business it’s also discouraging to know that only 16% of your fans see your content. How can you compete for visibility under such circumstances?

Mari Smith suggests that you use Interest Lists. This not-so-new tool introduced in March is designed to organize your newsfeed like a “personalized newspaper”. So what it does is to let you take back full control of what you see on your news feed.

Creating or subscribing to lists of your favorite people and pages adds them to ‘Favorites’ at the top-left corner of your home-page allowing you to browse the content you want on both desktop and mobile.

Here’s more from Mari about using Facebook Interest Lists to take control of your news feed.

Over to you: Have you created or subscribed to any Facebook Interest Lists? What are your initial thoughts about this feature?

5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Google+

Google recently moved to upgrade its social networking system, which included a lot of changes to the Google+ platform.

One of the biggest changes that Google made was to open up opportunities for organizations to create business profiles by setting up pages dedicated to their company information.  Although some may question the true value of this social media option, Google+ pages could actually make a huge difference in your business’ Internet presence.

Here are 5 reasons why your business should consider using Google+:

#1. Advertising and analytics

Google analytics has a better grasp of the way Internet traffic flows in and around your site than other social media platforms and can target users across multiple social media services.

#2. Location and map services

Google Places almost immediately joined up with Google+ as a way for users to “check in” and keep their followers up to date on location specific events.  Because these services are tied, anyone running a Google Maps search may see results from business with Google+ profiles in their search results.

#3. E-commerce

Because Google already owns Google Checkout, it could easily integrate this service into Google+ business profiles so that users could purchase goods or services without going through a third-party commerce tool.

#4. Internet search

Google is a leading search engine and as such, they can integrate Google+ profiles into the results of their search queries without issue.

#5. Near field communication (NFC)

If NFC payments pick up steam as they have been on track to do, businesses with Google+ profiles may be able to set up a mobile payment system for their products and services which would allow users to pay automatically over their handheld device.

Key Takeaway

Although several of these points are based on potential services, Google+ profiles are closely linked to one of the largest and most widely used search engines available.  Even if social media is not your specialty, you should consider setting up Google+ business pages and utilizing related services as they become available.

Over to you: Are you using Google+ for business? What benefits have you noticed so far? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Carlos is an experienced legal blogger who writes for the personal injury lawyers of Morris James LLP. He is also a regular contributor to endertonlaw.com

Social Media Sites Can Help Parents of Special Needs Kids

It’s summertime!

As a mom of two very active children, I spend the summer trying to keep them busy.  As soon as spring break is over, I’m busy Googling overnight summer camps, day camps, swim lessons, soccer lessons, and ANYTHING that will hold their interest.

While I want things to be fun, I also want activities that are educational and beneficial to them. But it’s not that easy…

What I need

…is more resourceful information.

For example, how do other parents of special needs children find reputable local activities and camps? Do their healthcare providers list special needs camps on their Facebook pages? Not where I’m from.

Happy, healthy, busy kids
Parents of special needs kids need help keeping them happy and busy

But I’m thinking – wouldn’t life be simpler for us parents if we could just go to our pediatrician’s social media page and find links to various organizations that provide camps and other recreational services? Because many times, we don’t really know where to find this information and we could use some help!

For Example…

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

A great example of a facility helping special needs kids is The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center. Under their “Specialties and Services” tab, there are over thirty links to different organizations, resources, and information sheets (not to mention the list of books) to help support families dealing with cancer.

These links include support information for the parents, informational sites for the child, pediatric references, and non-profit organizations for children with cancer or surviving cancer.

Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital

Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital is an advocate for child safety. The hospital is a leading agency for Safe Kids U.S.A.  This non-profit group is focused on the prevention of accidental childhood injuries through public education, community programming, safety product distribution, legislation and media outreach.

Under their “Special Services” tab, there is a listing for four different programs for children’s safety that is sponsored by Safe Kids in the Greater Toledo area.

The Navy

Even the Navy is a great example. Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Washington is providing online support to families dealing with autism. According to a recent article by Douglas H. Stutz with Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs, one out of 88 military family members is diagnosed with autism.

The Naval hospital lists many resources on its website including the Military Special Needs Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to these families with an autistic family member.

Key Takeaway

Kudos to the many healthcare providers and facilities that are already listing resources, events, and special activities for families facing ongoing health issues. These listings and links provide a much needed resource for parents looking for information to improve their kids health.  And it does make a huge difference in supporting families struggling with special needs.

Over to you: As a pediatrician or pediatric facility, what additional social sites or links could you add to your website to help parents with special needs kids?

Why Small Business Have the Advantage on Social Media

Despite ridiculous budgets and unlimited resources that big brands have (well kinda), small business definitely have the advantage when it comes to social media.

So says Francisco Rosales of Socialmouths.

For example if you’re a small business entrepreneur then “…you do not need an elaborate document (read: social media strategy) to handle social media marketing. You need the necessary product and industry knowledge and you need to have the sensibility on how to use the social networks.”

But if you’re a big brand, then that’s a whole different ball game.

“The requirements to manage a social media presence are different. You now have to consider the involvement of employees, outsourced efforts, how to represent the brand, the language, the tone, how to respond to problems and inquiries and even how to handle a crisis, when things are escalated to higher ground.”

And we’re not just talking about social media strategies. Small businesses have it much easier when it comes to satisfaction, management and yes, even ROI!

User Generated Content in the Cloud: What’s Mine is Ours?

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Fark, and Digg – all great platforms for creating and sharing user-generated content. Right?

But what about content security and ownership? What happens to copyrighted work when it is stored in the cloud and shared on Facebook? Does it even belong to you anymore?

Each social networking site has a clause about ownership of memes. It is contained in their Terms of Service (TOS). In terms of social media and content marketing a meme is “a highly viral niche content with a fast burnout rate.”

Generally with most social media sites, you maintain copyright of your content but agree to share it with the site (meaning that you give them explicit rights to do whatever they want with it!).

The ownership of user-generated content on social media sites is a tricky subject. Michael Erin Strong of Blue Glass does a great job shedding some light on it in her article, “Who Owns Your Meme? User-Generated Content Ownership on Social Networks”. Take a moment to read it and see how this stuff affects your (or should I say ‘our’ cloud-stored content).

Over to you: Do you normally read the TOS of social media sites that you use? What do you make of them?

4 Reasons Medical Professionals Should Use Social Media Marketing

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.

Key Takeaway

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?