Proper Social Media Posting Mix for Your Medical Practice

July 18, 2013
Audrey Mclaughlin, RN

When posting to social media sites, it’s important to mix things up and have a healthy balance of different types of posts.

Last week I covered why social media is necessary in your medical practice and some of the ways to choose your best options for your ideal patients. My clients are often confused about exactly what to post. They want to get the best return for the time they invest in social media. This week I want to share my simple acronym guide so that you know the formula to get results. 

When posting to social media sites, it is important to mix things up and have a healthy balance of different types of posts, otherwise you will soon become someone who gets scrolled past and ignored based on redundancy and lack of interest. Here is a simple guide; think DISCUSSION:

D: Direct Announcements. This would include important announcements of practical matters, for example, office closing early or a Saturday flu-shot clinic.  This is often the easiest type of post for physician practices; the only problem is that it doesn’t engage your patients and future patients at a high level. 

I: Intriguing Questions and Funnies. Ask your fans open-ended questions, perform polls (some serious and some not so serious), and post tasteful funny pictures or jokes. Example: “What is your favorite day of the week?” I suggest people take 15 minutes in a staff meeting to brainstorm 10 or 20 intriguing questions. 

S: Super Traffic Drivers. This would include posts designed to lead readers to your blog or even to an upcoming event. For example, “Check out Dr. Jones’ latest post on diabetes maintenance here [insert URL].” Of course, this requires you have a blog. Never fear - we will address that in an upcoming article! 

C: Credibility Builders. Post results, testimonials, patients stories (with permission and signed release). OB/GYNs or pediatricians might consider, with signed releases, posting pictures parents submit of their new deliveries or of pediatric patients who have “graduated” or after being seen at their clinic from an early age.

U: Unique or Inspiring Quotes. These can be quotes that speak to your ideal patient that promote good or positivity. They can be quotes from anyone you feel appropriate in your practice. To build connection with your patients, you could post a quote that a staff member chose, then say who chose it and why. For instance: Dr. Brown’s favorite quote is from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Dr. Brown says this quote reflects her passion for taking time for reflection and meditation each day. 

S: Sage voice of Wisdom. This should be similar to the unique and inspiring quotes above, however this information comes from the physicians and can be general, health-related advice. It could be a direct original quote from one of the providers or a comment on a new study or health-related news item.

S: Stellar Resources. Post useful information, community events, links to important studies, or calculators. These links could be to items on your site or on other public sites. This positions your practice as the place to go for answers, and it engenders a generalized feeling of trust from your patients. If you’re a family practice and you post the link to sign up for soccer, you’re positioning your practice as a group that understands what’s important to your patients and their families. Internists could post links to Alzheimer’s memory walks. Cardiologists could post links to every 5K run/walk in the area. 

I: Images of Office Life. Post a picture of your receptionist answering a call, of your nurse working hard, of something funny that happened in the office. You could also take a picture on a theme day. One of my favorites is when you are having a group lunch to learn something, take a quick shot of everyone learning together. If you only do one of these types of posts, make it be this one. Over and over my clients tell me that their patients come in and mention the personal Facebook posts. Patients want to feel that they know you and are connected to you as their physician and to the entire practice. Every time you post a picture of the restaurant you tried that weekend or the sunset you saw on a hike, your patients’ loyalty grows. We buy from people, not from nameless, faceless prescribers. Thirty years ago, the practice of medicine was different, and patients were different. Now, patients want to know their service providers - physicians included. Every image or story you post builds patient loyalty, trust, and may even give them a fun story to mention to their friends.

O: Offers. Try to keep these to one per week or one per month, otherwise people will likely tune out your posts. Offers can include any products or services that you may retail in your office or be part of a special event. I have clients that host “back to school” athletic physicals for $30 or so cash payment, for example.

N: News. You can post news for your company, news for your industry, or even news in your community. This ties back to Stellar Resources - when you post news items, you are educating your patients, but you are also positioning yourself as the place to turn to for answers. Patients want to know that they can rely on you to help them interpret the medical news of the day. 

So there you have it - DISCUSSION. Keep the image that you’re having a virtual discussion with your patients. This acronym works for all social media outlets.  

I advise my clients to post following this acronym roughly every week. That is 10 posts per week, during the times laid out in Part 1, to get the DISCUSSION started for their practice. 

What do you post about the most on social media?  What changes will you make in light of the recommendations above?