Social media has become a very powerful tool for a medical practice. It’s now very common for patients to find their physicians on Google, Bing, and other Search Engines. Establishing a good presence online can be one of the best and most economical ways to market your medical practice and make a long-lasting impression on existing and new patients.
Starting or trying to improve your existing online presence isn’t as easy as one might think. You can sign up for a free Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn account, but this can quickly become overwhelming while trying to run a practice. Sure, there are tons of companies that offer web marketing or low cost websites but how do you know they can truly help your practice?
A medical practice may choose to hire a web developer, or marketing firm to run their online marketing efforts, but even then there is a disconnect. The majority of these companies have never truly worked in healthcare. They may advertise that they have experience building a medical website or marketing for a physician, but have they truly been in your shoes? Unless they have gone to medical school, worked in a hospital, or spent time in the Operating Room, they probably don’t understand how to connect the power of the Internet, with your marketing goals.
One of the first and most important steps is to correctly increase your medical search engine optimization (MSEO) content. MSEO is the process of making your clinical online content more likely to show up in the most popular search engines.
Before you even begin posting clinical content on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, create a plan. The content should ensures your existing or new patients understands your approach as a physician. Creating the right medical themes early in the process will develop consistency and ensure that people who follow you online understand your vision. Creating a presence on social media platforms that patients will use regularly and consider influential in their decisions.
LinkedIn is a professional business-oriented social network. It is one of the best tools for managing your professional identity online. A LinkedIn profile is typically viewed as digital version of your CV. It takes only a few minutes to setup, but again without proper guidance, it can become overwhelming to most physicians. LinkedIn profiles can still rank high on a Google results search, but unless you know how to promote your clinical skill set on a LinkedIn company page, you are not getting the full value of LinkedIn. This is where a hiring a professional becomes valuable to your practice.
Medical Blogs can help you educate and engage with your patients as well as the medical community including referring physicians. Blogs can rank high in search engine results if built correctly.
Twitter is another social media platform, that enables users to “tweet” short messages. Each message is unique and restricted to a 140-character limit, so your message needs to concise. Twitter can be best used for sharing quick clinical tips, medical opinions on the latest health topics, and links to relevant medical articles.
Physicians that have a Facebook account, should always maintain separate profiles. Have an expert create and maintain a professional Facebook page. Your professional page allows patients to interact with your practice. Your professional Facebook page can advertise , conferences, events, and new treatments. You should discourage patients from contacting your personal profile.
Creating social media profiles is just one of many ways to build an online presence, but they also can expose your practice to liability if not done very carefully. Healthcare laws such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)are super strict about keeping patient health information confidential.
Do not identify someone as a patient on any social media platform. This helps a practice avoid privacy risks. If a new or even an existing patient asks a personal health related question on any social media platform, take the conversation private. Have them contact you via email or through your Medical Practice. Don’t use Social Media to answer personal health related questions. Always encourage the individual to call the office for an appointment or contact them privately via email.