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Here are 10 tips to improve your medical practice social media return on investment you've likely never heard before.
With these 10 short tips you’ll learn return on investment (ROI) strategies for social media, avoid issues with HIPAA, and discover how to protect your efforts for long-term success.
1. Before you attempt anything else on the Internet please fix your online reputation first. The last thing you want to do is attract attention to a negative reputation. Read one doctor’s eye-opening story first.
2. Physician ratings are the most socially-relevant channels in 2012. Starting in January, these companies have started spending millions of dollars urging patients to screen doctors. Angie’s List, one of the most disturbing review sites as there is no verification process, has literally taken over the entire medical industry by storm. Planning for this should be a priority. Bad online reputations are disastrous for practices. For some doctors with negative reviews, our reputation management program can save them from lawsuits and protect their patient volumes, but for some it’s too late for a quick fix. My advice is to establish your online reputations now because it’s harder to destroy a reputation that is positive. One bad review is not going to bring your practice down. But if it’s the only review, you can bet that this will affect your new patient volume.
3. Google Search is the most cost- and time-effective social media tool available. Plan on being on page one of results for key terminology. Where do patients find you first? Twitter? Facebook? No, Google. Once they find you on Google, they will go to your website, and only then will they want to further screen you on your other social media channels. If you don’t have a website you’re simply missing out.
4. For doctors who perform elective procedures, who accept out-of-network benefits, or have fee-for-service practices, social media is a requirement. People earning incomes of $100,000+ are influenced by social media more than anything else. Take a look at this interactive tool from PWC for some eye-opening statistics
5. Learn to blog. Too many doctors and their administrators jump on Twitter and Facebook without learning how to plan for success with a medical blog. Your blog is the opportunity for you to become the most trusted source of medical education for your patients and referring doctors.
• Have you read something interesting in a medical journal for your specialty? Put together a summary for your network without the medical jargon. Also, learn how to respond to comments on your blog first.
• Think of the time savings when you make it a requirement for patients to read your blog posts before they come in for appointment or while they’re in the waiting area.
• There are no HIPAA issues here. Have a short info link on your blog that explains your social media policy.
6. Learn the basics of medical search engine optimization (SEO). I have resources from top medical SEO experts in the country and will make them available upon request. Five terms you absolutely need to understand are meta titles, meta descriptions, H1, H2, and H3. Social media lasts seconds. Social media with SEO lasts months or years. Why do you need SEO? Blogging, Tweeting, and using Facebook are ineffective unless you understand how to optimize every single time before you hit “Enter.” If you’re spending a few minutes of your life writing something, plan on it to last. Without planning, you’re just “blurping.” Blurping has no ROI and loses relevance in seconds.
• This is especially valid for physician bloggers. I’ve seen doctors who are very active on Twitter whose blogs have hundreds of articles. But when you go to their blogs there is no organization, you see only five blog posts -the rest of articles are hidden in archives that nobody will ever read, and they lack even the most basic SEO components. Planning for user experience is just as important as SEO.
7. Link to articles and resources that are yours. Remember, you spent serious time and money on getting that one person to come to your Facebook page, Twitter page, or blog. Don’t send them away. If you don’t have the time, hire someone that will spend the time researching what your patients and referring doctors love to read and how it relates to your expertise. Write short summaries and articles about them on your blog. This is the biggest social media ROI strategy: Link your Twitter and Facebook posts to your blog and nowhere else. If you must link to an external resource make sure that clicking on it will open a new browser window.
8. Do not advertise your services. Advertise your expertise through educational resources. At all costs avoid saying things like “top surgeon” or “best doctor,” etc. This is an automatic red flag for anyone with a brain. In several case studies, when we eliminated such terminology case volumes dramatically increased. If you want to advertise on your blog or website the only thing you should advertise is “Schedule an Appointment.”
9. There is serious ROI that can be identified with Google Analytics. Install it into anything and everything.
10. Protect your social media ROI. You’ve spent hours, days, months learning how to blog and how to build effective social media campaigns. Don’t let Internet companies plagiarize content from your blogs, websites, and articles and monetize on it. Don’t get sucked in with the promise of “badges, recognition, etc.” Just because your colleagues are doing it doesn’t mean you have to. When in doubt, just ask me. Google your website, your articles, and your name often; at least once a week. Every month, hire someone or spend an extra hour to Google all the titles on your blog.
Find out more about Simon Sikorski and our other Practice Notes bloggers.