A large chunk of the US population is turning to social media for health-related information. If its power is harnessed wisely, it can be a powerful tool for your practice. Network through these platforms have expanded the social life of health, which now goes far beyond a doctor’s office. Patients who share a particular health condition can talk directly to each other, share their experiences, educate each other, and recommend doctors and treatments that have worked for them.
As such, it can be used as an ideal platform to share your practice visibility, connect directly with target patients, and influence their opinion about your practice. Entrepreneurial physicians have understood the possibilities of social media marketing and have leveraged it to their benefit. It’s about making a brand of your practice through social media marketing.
Here are five benefits of social media that physicians should understand:
Richer customer experiences
Every patient interaction you have on various platforms like patient-review websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is an excellent opportunity to let the world know about service at your practice. Through these interactions, you can get to know the mindset of patients. You can utilize this medium to address the issues patients may have faced at your practice, apologize for any inconvenience you’ve caused, and assure them that nothing less than the best healthcare services will be provided.
Every post you make on social media platforms can be a chance to convert potential patients. If you have a reasonable following on social media, you can reap tri-fold benefits of simultaneously connecting with new patients, existing ones, and other visitors who can be future potential patients.
Wider bandwidth for brand exposure
Experts say social media is the most important factor for brand management these days, to showcase your brand and build brand credibility. A strong online presence enhances a physician’s trustworthiness as well as boosts their website’s traffic and search engine ranking. It provides additional exposure to your practice.
“How a physician or hospital responds to negative comments and complaints can carry equal or more weight than positive consumer engagement,” according to one report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). These issues, when brought to attention on social media, can be addressed and resolved immediately because there is an outlet for a dialogue. When social media users observe that their issues and problems are handled right away and solutions are being worked out, they have a feeling that customer service is taken seriously. On the other hand, it gives the physician a chance to be aware about what is being said about his or her practice. This can be a great opportunity in some cases, where the physicians can handle an angry or upset patient at the very first instance he or she posts something, before the situation becomes aggravated.
Discovery of new trends
Change is law of nature. Even your patients keep evolving with time. So how will you come to know what patients really want out of a consultation? For instance, because of obesity, someone with diabetes might be seeking a diet and healthy lifestyle consultation to cure the disease naturally. Here, social media comes to rescue! You can spark a discussion among patient communities on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These discussions reveal the mindset of patients and revelations can be manifested in the form of better services at your practice.
A cost-effective way to connect with patients
According to Hubspot, 84 percent of marketers found that as little as six hours of effort per week given to social media is enough to generate increased traffic. Targeting a large audience through social media with this time investment, which is about one hour per day, isn’t a bad deal. Moreover, the only true cost is the time involved. After clinic hours, if you can spare one hour per day for engaging on social media, it will give you a good return on your time invested. However, if you aren’t able to devote this time, you can consider deploying a staff member for these activities.
The doctor-patient relationship is the nexus of Western healthcare systems. As the patients are evolving with social media, it’s imperative for physicians to evolve with them, or else they will be left behind the competition. Social media networks are new channels to represent your practice as a brand in the online market. It’s time for physicians to recognize the practical benefits of using social media to influence patient perceptions.
Manish Chauhan is Digital Marketing Manager at myPracticeReputation which is an easy-to-use reputation management solution for physicians to help monitor, protect and promote their medical practices at all times in the simplest way possible.