By: Carmesha Thompson
Today, more and more professional industries have embraced social media as a means to grow their audience and communicate with them as well. They have turned this 21st phenomenon into more than just applications that individuals use for their personal relationships. Companies are utilizing social media to enhance B2C relationships.
However, unlike other industries, many in the medical industry have been slow to incorporate social media into their overall marketing plan. They are wary of doing so, because they may see it primarily as a method of socializing with friends and/or do not understand how their practice could fit in the social media mix. What those who are disinclined must understand is that Facebook, Twitter and others can be just another way to communicate with their audience, and unlike other methods, it’s a way to directly communicate with an audience whose attention you have.
Here are a couple of reasons that support the claim that social media is especially useful for healthcare practices:
Your Patients Are Not Just Receiving Their Health Information Online, But They Are Receiving Them Through Social Media
Gone are the days when patients would make an appointment with their doctor to ask a question concerning their health and patiently wait for the day of that appointment to take place. Now people are taking more of an active role in finding out answers to their health questions and self-diagnosing themselves by discovering the answers on their own rather than waiting on their doctor. Thanks to the Internet, the general public has thousands upon thousands of medical resources at their disposal that they can utilize immediately with a click of their mouse.
A survey done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 80 percent of Internet users look online for information on health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. What’s more, social media (Facebook above all) is a primary resource for users searching for health information. Over 60 percent of all Americans have joined at least one social network and over 40 percent of respondents in a survey by the National Research Corp rely on social networking for health information, and nearly all of those people (94 percent) turn to Facebook. Americans using social media for healthcare are affluent and on average are 41 years old.
Social Media Provides A Voice To Your Practice
Social media allows you to humanize and personalize your practice by providing a voice that speaks directly to your patients. It also allows for two-way communication to take place between you and your patients instantly. You should be constantly posting useful health information relevant to your practice that you know your patients are interested in and may have questions about. Your patients’ perception of your practice as being a trusted source of information and expertise is boosted and appreciated as this brings information to them that they otherwise would have had to scour the Internet for.
For example, during flu season general physicians should post tips on ways to avoid the flu as well as information on immunizations. For any information that you post, patients can ask questions or respond. Also as mentioned above, patients are looking online for their health questions and may often receive information that is wrong or incorrectly apply the context of information they found. If you are the one distributing the facts, then you know what your patients are receiving is correct.