Posts Tagged ‘social media for doctors’
Breaking down the Facebook “wall” between you and your audience can be difficult. As a health care provider, you face challenges engaging your fans that are unique to the health care niche. Below are a few tips to keep your fans interested in your page.
Go above and beyond the freebie.
In a study by ExactTarget, 40% of participants reported “Liking” a page to receive discounts and promotions, while 36% do so to get freebies. However using complimentary or discounted services and products as motivation to “Like” a page is not always the best option. Some of the fans you receive as a result might not pay any attention to your page after receiving the incentive. To draw people to your page and to “Like” it, rather try providing information and content that is just.
Use your Facebook page as a communication vehicle between you and your audience by offering information and health tips patients would normally receive during a doctor’s visit and use it a communication tool to announce your upcoming community involvements, information on patient specials and links to your other marketing vehicles such as a newsletter. Present the information as an insider exclusive and make people want to “Like” your page on their own rather than bribing them to do so.
Remember to be friendly.
The key to social media is to be social. While professionalism is a must for health care practitioners, Facebook is not a professional medium. Give your Facebook page a face, someone your audience can connect with and relate to. You want to manage your Facebook page as a person, not as a business, and keep your content and tone light and approachable. Avoid medical jargon. This will not only make your page more likeable, it will help create a bond between you and your audience, making your insider exclusives much more powerful.
Don’t fall into the spamming trap.
According to ExactTarget, just because someone likes your page doesn’t mean they think it’s OK for you to market to them. Again, refer back to the idea of writing as a friend and not a business. It’s fine to do some marketing on Facebook, but keep it minimal or you will drive your audience away. Learn Facebook etiquette and avoid falling into the spamming track. Don’t have something interesting to post every day? Then, post every other day. Quality is more important than quantity.
By: Carmesha Thompson
MassMedia Healthcare Marketing has always encouraged our clients to use social media to provide their current and potential patients and/ or constituents with useful health content pertinent to their practice/organization. As a result, their target demographic will perceive them as being a valuable resource and trusted source of health information. By posting this content on social media applications, practices/organizations are bringing the information to their patients and/ or constituents, saving them from otherwise having to look for it themselves. We also recommend that practices/organizations take advantage of the accessibility of others through social media and use it to interact with and influence their target audience.
Recently MassMedia launched the social media pages of Nevada Early Childhood Advisory Council whose Head Start and Early Head Start programs promote school readiness for economically disadvantaged children by enhancing their social and cognitive development through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services.
Using their Facebook and Twitter pages as well as their blog, Head Start plans to interact with and influence media, political and community leaders, and of course Nevada parents on a daily basis. By establishing a branded presence, interacting with influencers and sharing appreciated and unique content, Head Start and MassMedia will create an online community that provides valuable information and fosters increased engagement.
These networks will feature tips for parents on keeping children healthy, cognitive development (such as counting games), and family activities that are local. Their social media pages will also include useful facts and health-related news, trends and reminders regarding children. In addition, the networks will also include links to assess children’s development and milestones as well as links to tips and resources to help children learn and understand (such as printable worksheets to practice writing). Many of the updates will be translated in Spanish to further the reach of the message.
Be sure to ‘Like’ their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/NevadaEarlyChildhood) and follow them on Twitter (http://twitter.com/NevadaECAC) to not only receive this beneficial information, but to also observe how we utilize social media to engage and inform their audience.
By: Melissa Gonzalez
I was recently tasked with determining how relevant localized social marketing like Four Square, Groupon and Facebook Places is to the healthcare industry. As an engager, it’s easy to overlook the obvious progression of social media changes, but through a marketing lens the changes and patterns that are beginning to shape and drive consumer habits are quite enlightening.
We all know the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt social media; for an often very conservative industry it’s uncharted territory. But recently the industry is beginning to accept its importance and get involved, realizing it’s vital to continue to engage with consumers/patients where they are – and right now, they’re online.
Here are some recent social media trends on the rise. Don’t be surprised if you find healthcare joining the ranks of the many small businesses that are using these resources to get their brand in front of the computer and most of all, move the needle.
Group-Buying Websites: Groupon and Living Social
Group-buying sites like Living Social and Groupon grew ten-fold in the last year. Living Social had 7 million unique visitors in March alone, up 27 percent from the previous month according to ABC News, April 2011. With Facebook small business accounts growing daily, users are able to share local deals sent to their email with online friends and social media networks.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, the CEO of LivingSocial says, “The business model is based on two fundamentals: People can’t resist a bargain; and small businesses are always looking for more customers.” It’s astonishing how one little email can generate more business than some could have ever possibly imagined and it’s because of the ease of use to share these deals with friends over social media.
Healthcare providers that would work the best with Groupon include dentists and optometrists who can perform a routine service that is often paid out of pocket. Groupon could be considered a strong alternative to the typical couponing they might otherwise do.
Targeted Localized Marketing: Foursquare, Facebook Check-ins and Google Places
When trying to engage and interact with your consumers/ patients within their community, healthcare providers will need to take a more localized approach.
Targeted localized marketing in a more defined geographic area can benefit consumer engagement, especially in day-to-day transactions that surround family life such as grocery shopping, getting an oil change or going to the doctor’s office. Web searches for products and services in specific geographic regions or neighborhoods done on the computer or smart phone are growing increasingly common; i.e. “Dentist Summerlin Las Vegas.” If you are a dentist in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, you want to make sure your practice shows up in search results such as Google Maps.
Applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Check-ins and Google Places lets consumers share their whereabouts with the ability to comment. In fact, some businesses have gone as far as to incentivize checking-in with coupons codes for discounts on products and services. Facebook Places has benefited from this high level of adoption, soaring past Foursquare to reach a 32 percent current usage rate; while Foursquare’s location-based service has remained steady over the past two quarters.
It appears that the important message for healthcare is this – stay current with localized social media and how your consumers engage with it, and make sure you’re brand is involved.
Follow Melissa on Twitter at mmariegonzalez or contact her at email@example.com
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.
Paula Yakubik, managing partner of MassMedia Healthcare Marketing, discusses the importance of having a website, how it can streamline your practice, tips to keep in mind when building a website, and the impact that utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) can have on your website.
1. How important is it for a medical practice to have a website?
It is vital that in today’s information-driven society all medical practices have an online presence. Before launching any formal marketing plan, you should establish this presence. More and more Americans are turning to the Internet to do their research, comparisons and decision-making.
According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, in 2010 approximately 61 percent of American adults looked online for health information. Physician practices that integrate an Internet strategy into their overall marketing plan have a better chance of achieving success. Your patients and customers are online looking for information and providers. If you are not there, they will seek out a second source. A well-planned, informative site that is easy to navigate will benefit both the physician and patient.
2. How can a website help a medical practice cut costs?
A good website can help any practice save time and money. A useful website will cut down on the number of phone calls into your practice by including information such as directions to the office, hours of operation, frequently asked questions, and links to healthcare information that website visitors may find helpful. A medical practice’s website should also include downloadable patient forms that patients can fill out prior to their appointment.
3. What are some key tips to keep in mind when building a website?
First, your healthcare website should be geared towards making your potential patient’s decision easier and both potential and loyal patient’s experience better. Content drives action. The content on your physician website should be built specifically for your target audience. Tell them a story about your services and your practice that they can relate to. What visitors really want is content that first describes the problems they face and then provides details on how your practice solves these problems.To do this, you need to know your audience well.
Next, hire a professional consultant. I know most of you have a cousin or a sister who can throw together a website, but if you are going to do it, do it right. Find a consultant that specializes in healthcare, understands how to market to a specific target audience and clearly understands how a website can increase your practice’s patient volume.
It is also important to remember that all marketing initiatives should be strategically integrated into your site and should ultimately tie back into the website as it can assist in tracking and measuring the success of marketing tactics.
4. What is SEO? Does every website need to have it?
Your website should be one of your practice’s greatest marketing tools. If your customers go online looking for your product and services and they can’t find your website, they will seek out another provider or another source. Even worse, what if they type in keywords specific to your practice and your website does not come up. What’s the point of a great website, if no one can ever find it?
It’s no longer enough just to have a great website. It needs to be created and formatted correctly so that your potential customers can find it. We believe if your website does not rank or appear on the first page of a search on Google, Bing or Yahoo, that you are losing potential customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies work to get your practice placed on the first page of searches by utilizing keywords your customers are typing in to find you. Web developers and programmers specialize in SEO services. They work with each of the major search engines everyday to make sure they are up-to-date on their unique specifications and that they have a keen understanding of what is new and required of our customers to land on page one.
Great SEO will increase traffic to your site, which will increase the opportunity for your practice to gain new patients.
Paula Yakubik is a partner with MassMedia Healthcare Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter @Pyakubik. She can be reached directly at (702) 433-4331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Pam Myers
As if getting through medical school wasn’t hard enough, physicians today now have to successfully market their practice, engage with their patients and monitor their reputations online. Those are just a few marketing and public relations challenges physicians face in today’s competitive health care market.
To have a successful practice, integrated marketing strategies are essential. Long gone are the days when a professional practice could survive on the skill and training of the physicians alone. With that said and with the new era of marketing with social media….a good question comes to mind: Should doctors tweet?
Personally, I would like to view my doctor in a more human way and read about any conferences or continuing education they attend to bring their practice to the next level as well as their point of view on current medical procedures. However, I do worry about my visits being discussed in 140 characters or less. Is there anyone who regulates or monitors Twitter for patients’ rights (HIPPA violations)? Since all posts are stamped with a date and time, a tweet that reveals what a doctor observed could be potentially linked to a patient’s appointment.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Katherine Chretien, a hospitalist at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, and her colleagues published in the February 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that:
- Approximately half of the 5,156 tweets by the physicians they analyzed had to do with health or medicine
- 12% were self-promotional
- 1% recommended a medical product or service
- 3% were flagged as “unprofessional”
From this study Chretien concluded, “This research helped us to identify how physicians are using social media and has helped us gauge whether or not there is a need for greater accountability for physicians who use social media.”
So, should physicians use Twitter? That can really only be answered by the physician, but here are a couple of questions they should ask themselves:
- Do they have something interesting to share?
- Will they be able to consistently tweet?
- Do they fully understand this online platform?
- Have they reviewed the American Medical Association social media guidelines?
One last thing to keep in mind is that social media is just another communication tool and nothing should be tweeted if it wouldn’t be said at the office/hospital. Once you hit “send” there’s no turning back.
Follow Pam on Twitter @pammyers310 or email her at email@example.com.
By Paula Yakubik
Social media has gotten very big, very fast. Many would conclude that healthcare is somewhat late to the party. Here are 5 reasons why your practice and healthcare organization should engage.
- 500 million people have a Facebook account, 200 million are on Twitter and there are now 148 million active blogs. I try to explain to most of my clients that the Internet and social media is changing the world much like the telephone did. Many of you were not around, but the telephone made it so we no longer had to send messages by the pony express or the telegraph. It changed the way people communicated with each other and cut down dramatically the time it took to get a message to someone. This is what the Internet is doing. And rather than fight it, you should embrace it and have it work for you and your practice. Done right, your social media sites and a good website can save your practice money.
- A recent study by the Pew Internet Research study, said that 61 percent of adults look online for healthcare information, while only 25 percent of American adults looked online for this information in 2000. 83 percent of these users have looked online for information about health topics ranging from information about a specific disease, treatments, alternative medicine, health insurance, healthcare providers, medical facilities and ways to stay healthy.
- 60 million consumers now use new media to share their health experiences online and look to join online communities with similar symptoms and ailments. Approximately 1,200 Facebook communities advocate for cures for chronic illnesses. Patients are more connected, diverse and sophisticated than ever before. We here at MassMedia call it the word of mouse. It has replaced the word of mouth.
- 72 percent of e-patients search for medical information right before or after a doctor’s visit. While patients value their doctor’s expertise and advice, that will not stop them from searching the Internet and reading website articles and blogs to try and self-diagnose themselves. Patients like to come into a doctor’s office pre-informed about a condition they think they may have and once they leave with a diagnosis they will turn to the Internet to find out more information about it.
- 93 percent of e-patients say the Internet has made it possible to get the medical information they need. Does your practice have an online presence? What will someone think if they Google your practice and there is no site? What will someone think if they don’t find a site and worse yet, come across those pesky doctor review sites in which an unhappy patient last month took to the Internet to show his or her disdain for your front office clerk? Even worse, what if they Google your site and an outdated, horrible site comes up? What does this say about you and your practice? A good online presence will help you establish your credibility. It’s usually the aspect of your brand that patients will experience first so make sure it’s a good one.
Paula Yakubik is a partner with MassMedia Healthcare Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter @Pyakubik. She can be reached directly at (702) 433-4331 or firstname.lastname@example.org. MassMedia Healthcare Marketing’s website is massmediahealth.com
By Leanne Drown
We all know by now that social media is imperative in marketing your medical practice, but there are still a lot of questions about what it means to launch a social media campaign, how it can make a difference, how to stay within HIPAA regulations and what the impact will be. Instead of trying to answer all these questions in one blog post, we decided to share a few really good and compelling examples. Take a read through, let it marinate a bit and start to think about what these types of campaigns could mean for your practice. Children’s hospitals definitely lead the pack in the social media sphere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join them!
The UCSF Challenge for the Children
In only 8 weeks, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital raised over $1 million for a new center in Mission Bay. Using Facebook, Twitter and Causes.com, the Challenge recruited individual contributors and team leaders who then created groups through their personal networks. Throughout the eight-week contest, more than 50 teams signed up to compete for various prizes, with the top two teams earning the prize of naming a space in the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Companies such as Zynga (known for Farmville), alongside individual patients of UCSF Benioff Hospital, rallied their social networks to surpass the initial goal.
Humana wanted to promote Freewheelin, their bike sharing program, within communities of green & health friendly individuals to support better health. First they identified local cycling clubs on Meetup.com and arranged events during which they would share information about their program. In order to drive traffic to these events, they created a Facebook page, Blog, Twitter handle, Flickr group and YouTube account. Over the course of the campaign, more than 1,500 photos were uploaded to Flickr. The end result was eight days of rides with over 7,500 total rides and 41,000 miles ridden. While Freewheelin is no longer an active brand, the initiative is still going strong under the name B-Cycle.
Dr. Irena Vaksman, Dentist
Dr. Vaksman, who practices dentistry in San Francisco, has the challenge of practicing in a building that houses hundreds of other dentists. Most having more established practices than hers. In order to grow her practice she decided to go online (with the help of her husband). In addition to creating a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Twitter stream, Dr. Vaksman decided to offer a Groupon to the residents of her community. As a result of the Groupon, Dr. Vaksman received 320 new patients. Valksman’s patients now communicate with her on her Facebook page, and her practice continues to grow.
Follow Leanne on Twitter @leannedrown or email her at email@example.com.