It seems that almost everybody these days has a profile on some social media website, but there is much debate on whether or not healthcare professionals should have a professional presence on social media.
While social media is certainly is not for every physician, here are a few tips that can help the savvy doctor utilize social media to grow their online presence.
Be on the most popular platforms
There are more and more social media platforms popping up each and every day, but for physicians to get the most out of social media, it is important to be on the most popular (and most relevant) platforms. For most doctors, this will mean having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, though some physicians with interesting images to share may see benefit from being on Pinterest. Google+ is another option, though you likely won’t see as much engagement.
Link your social media to your website…and vice versa
In the world of social media, verification is key. Your patients want to know that you are who you say you are, so it’s crucial to link your social media accounts to your website, and vice versa. Doing so helps build credibility and maximize each and every touchpoint – a patient may stumble upon your Facebook account and end up visiting your website as a result, or vice versa!
Linking your social media to your website may also help with SEO to your website, as Google tends to give better search rankings to social media accounts, and having more links to and from each account will push you higher up in search results.
Engage with patients
Sure, some patients will follow you for news and updates, interesting facts, and the like, but at the heart of every follow on social media is the desire to connect and engage. When new patients like your page on Facebook or follow you on Twitter, engage with them and say thank you! A little personal touch goes a long way, and with each genuine engagement, your followers will build a stronger connection with your brand.
Provide value and educate – don’t just ask for engagement
For physicians, social media is an incredibly useful tool to educate, inspire, and offer value. The most important thing to remember when using social media is that your fans and followers on social media aren’t interested in you…they’re thinking about themselves.
Any opportunity you have to offer value, whether that means posting interesting facts, inspirational stories or testimonials, or awe-inspiring photos that have to do with your practice is a huge opportunity – and one that too many physicians miss out on.
Keeping your fans and followers’ interests ahead of your own by offering value at every turn is the way to build a strong presence on social media, and ultimately, a stronger brand.
Post different types of content on different platforms and encourage patients to connect in multiple ways
Each social media platform is tailored to provide a different type of content: Facebook is for longer stories and videos, Twitter is for short updates and photos, and LinkedIn is for professional updates and news items. By tailoring your content to these different platforms, three things are accomplished: 1) your followers get what they expect from each form of social media, 2) patients are encouraged to follow you on multiple channels, and 3) you multiply your opportunities to connect with new patients (because not everyone is on every social media platform).
While active engagement on social media is certainly a good thing, it’s important to not overcast. There are some unwritten rules of the road for posting on social media, including how frequently to post. The general guidelines are to tweet up to 3 times/day, post on Facebook 2 times/day (7 days a week), and on LinkedIn up to 3 times/week, but only on weekdays.