Social Media: Can It Be Beneficial For Your Practice?
Lorenz notes that the practice’s strongest social media marketing tools have been consistent blogging at www.HoosierFootAndAnkle.com and sites such as www.podiatrytoday.com, as well as traffic on Twitter with increased activity at the practice’s Facebook fan page. She says the practice’s interaction with “fans” and “followers” sets relationships that influence the search engines. Her Twitter account and Facebook fan page/business page are indexed on search engines.
“Personal accounts, even though they may be public, do not have as much influence with search engines,” she says.
Lorenz cautions podiatrists to avoid artificially inflating social networking numbers through the purchase of connections with non-interested participants. Lorenz notes that having large numbers of non-engaged participants can lower social networking benefits. non-interested participants. Lorenz notes that having large numbers of non-engaged participants can lower social networking benefits.
Social networking should also point to information patients can have so they will learn more about their condition, information Jackson says should be on the practice’s website and not anywhere else. He says Facebook and Twitter should make it easy for patients to engage with the doctor and make an appointment. In addition, Jackson suggests the use of video on social networking sites. He advises buying a small high-definition camera and making one-minute to two-minute videos to answer patients’ questions.
Insights On Increasing Referrals And Interacting With Other Practices
In addition to bringing Dr. DeHeer’s practice to the attention of search engines, Lorenz says her consultancy uses social media in conjunction with other nurturing tools to deliver customer/patient leads to referrals. Since posting on social networks can be time and energy consuming, she works on nurture marketing and social media strategy.
As an additional part of nurture marketing, Dr. DeHeer’s practice uses an e-mail service to deliver a newsletter. It also networks with other people in their fields of interest and community to nurture current patients, which Lorenz says encourages patients to mention the practice and recommend it to others who need its services.
Jackson emphasizes that social networking permits practices to build a referral network around the practice at almost zero cost, one that has the ability to introduce the practice to thousands of prospective patients that one cannot reach any other way. He says doctors in his Top Practices Group who are using social networking effectively tell him they see new patients every day because of social networking.
“I have had doctors who have been asked to speak at events, become a running club’s podiatrist and meet other high referring doctors and professionals simply because they were online with their marketing and communication,” points out Jackson.
With Twitter in particular, Dr. DeHeer’s practice seeks networking with others within its service region. The practice follows entities and other Twitter members in the Indianapolis area while expanding to other podiatry professionals. Dr. DeHeer’s practice has begun a small following at Google+ while Lorenz says LinkedIn is becoming more valuable through the connections, groups and a new company page. She notes the groups can be time consuming, while the questions/answers area is not usually aimed at medical solutions or treatment.
Additionally, Dr. DeHeer uses YouTube as a strong social media tool. He uses a Flip camera to make live videos in the clinics. Lorenz creates marketing videos for Dr. DeHeer.
What You Should Post And What You Shouldn’t
“You have to remember that whatever is posted is out there for all to see and really for eternity. This is particularly important when posting video and photos,” says Dr. Hyer.
Dr. Hyer stresses the importance of keeping social networking posts professional and being conscious of what one is posting. He emphasizes that posting operative pictures is dangerous and one should keep in mind HIPAA rules. Doctors should not post anything personal about their patients, concurs Jackson, or anything that could identify a patient (without a legal release from the patient to do so).