3 Ways to Not Flunk Social Media at Your Practice

February 2, 2017

This doctor's practice found out he was failing at social media. He offers three suggestions that could help you avoid this fate.

Recently I had an opportunity to have our medical clinic rated by a trusted colleague, who was also considered a "social media consultant."  We all know someone like that, don't we?  Having recently added aesthetics to our practice, from Day 1, just about everyone and their uncle, including unsolicited sales phone calls and emails, gave me advice on how best to use social media to attract new patients to our clinic. 

However in this case, the consultant was a friend I had known for many years working with small businesses. As such, I had her analyze our Facebook, Twitter, and Google Places pages.  I trusted her expert opinion, and wanted to get her unsolicited feedback.

And my marketing friend, didn't hold anything back.

"Doc, I'm afraid I have to rate your social media attempts as an "F."

I was flabbergasted.  Truth be told, in addition to being a physician practice owner, I have been involved in medical marketing consulting for some time. So I knew a thing or two about social media.  Yet my ego shrank faster than the latest Medicare reimbursement check.

When she asked if I made it a priority or how I chose the posts and pictures,   I confessed there really was no rhyme or reason on what was chosen.   If I came across a funny motivational quote, I would share it.  If my office manager recommended we promote a special for the holidays, I'd post it.  However, there would be weeks or even months where nothing got posted.

Just like all of us, we get to busy, and often too stubborn to give the job to someone else, so it was no surprise that in my to- do list of the 29 things I had to in a typical day, "improve our social media following," would be number 30.  And it showed.

So she mapped out a few suggestions that helped to not only get new likes and shares, but more importantly, new patients come through our door.  And with anything I knew it just took some common sense.  Here are just a few suggestions that were made:

1. Plan out everything.  Now there is not a right way or a wrong way on the frequency of postings.  I don't think people are on pins and needles, waiting for the next Facebook post from their doctor.   But you have to be consistent.  It was recommended to have themes for certain days for certain aspects, such as every Thursday sharing education on a new product or procedure we were offering, or Monday sharing our latest patient success story.

To aid our planning, we chose to use Hootsuite Pro, which lets you post in advance to all of our social media properties and then post all at once to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.  

2. Make it personal.  Some doctors are afraid to share vulnerability, but if done correctly, many appreciate seeing the human element behind the white coat.  For example I was a bit nervous to do this, but when I couldn't get any volunteers in front of the camera, I posted a  quick video of myself  undergoing a cosmetic procedure that was shared over 100 times in a couple of days.

3. Don't be boring.  Sometimes it pays to give your opinion.  Now I'm not taking whether you agree with the current presidential regime, but more along the lines of topics that may affect your patients.   I wish I could tell you everything I do is 100 percent original, but there are some effective tools out there like BuzzSumo that will reveal the most commonly shared articles and topics in your field.  Simply put in a few keyword phrases, to view what articles the most talked about subjects of the day.

Social media may not have been the most important topic you learned on as a career in your physician but it could be the most influential.  Make sure to keep it as priority in your continued patient outreach.