If you haven’t tried using social media to promote your medical practice and connect with patients, it’s easy to get started.
It’s also easy to make mistakes and waste a lot of time and energy.
Here are some mistakes physicians can avoid when marketing their practices on social media.
1. Using clinical language
You are talking to regular people, not medical students or even undergraduates. Would you give a new patient a peer-reviewed article and tell them to go read it? No.
Remember what your patients and potential patients are thinking as they’re surfing around on Facebook: What’s in it for me?
When you are sharing useful or timely clinical information with people, find the "hook" in the journal article or news that hits the most relevant (sometimes emotional) nerve possible with your patients.
At a minimum, you want to write a comment on the article or story using a conversational tone, without jargon or confusing medical terms.
2. Being inconsistent
Not only will readers stop paying attention, but fewer people will see what you’ve posted if you suddenly stop creating interesting updates.
Don’t forget that a "dead" Facebook page or Twitter account (or blog) that hasn’t been updated in a year or more looks terrible to a potential patient.
I recommend that you plan ahead of time to post at regular intervals you can stick to, or don’t start at all.
This is different than having a basic website with patient education information on it — that’s a no-brainer. But don’t start regularly posting to Facebook or a blog without planning how you’ll keep it up over the long term.
3. Forgetting to link social media to your practice
Don’t treat your fan page on Facebook like it’s in a vacuum. You’re a real business attracting real patients into a physical office. Ask yourself regularly, "How are my posts and updates helping bring patients into my office?"
Are they creating emotional or authority connections with you?
Do they ask for action or opinions from the reader?
Are you providing them with incentives to visit your main website for more detailed information?
All this gets easier when you have a mini-network of online "channels" for your practice: blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.
And this goes both ways — ask patients to like your fan page on Facebook when they’re in the office. Put a rating or review form on your website and direct people there. Tell patients about YouTube videos you’ve created for them while they’re in the office.
4. Taking social media too seriously
Another important reason folks are on sites like Facebook is to be entertained — I’m sure that’s no shock to you.
Most physicians think that since they’re in the business of medicine and not creating zany cat videos, entertaining patients is off the table as an option online — not true at all.
For example, one of the most popular Facebook posts I created for my practice was a link to a fascinating video about a man cleaning out a cobra pit. This video has millions of views and tons of comments on YouTube. I simply posted a link to the video and made some comments about how bad his hand injury would be if he were bitten.
Another example is this famous video of a kid in the backseat of a van after a visit to the dentist — can you see the relevance to your anesthesia or dental practice here?
The idea is to connect high, proven entertainment value with clinical relevance.
OK - I have to go create a Facebook post about cat bites in the hand... where will I find a funny cat video?