Ten Reasons to Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Medical Practice

November 15, 2013
Audrey Mclaughlin, RN

Nearly 20 percent of all time online is spent on social media outlets. How physicians can take advantage of this opportunity.

This week I gave a talk on leveraging social media to grow your medical practice. Here are the top take-aways:

1. Social media is here to stay. Studies show that 18 percent of all time spent online is spent on social media; some studies report one in five minutes a day! You need to be there, in front of people, as this is a huge opportunity and the medical field as a whole supports jumping on this form of marketing.

2. New patient acquisition is the biggest hurdle for most clinics. Social media is the most cost-effective and targeted way to reach your prospective patients.

3. Social media helps you build relationships. Whether with current patients and their families or prospective new patients, social media makes it easy to stay in the forefront of their minds, by lending yourself to becoming a resource. Having a large social media base can even help you to assess adding particular services or products.

4. Everyone loves Facebook. A number of reports state that Facebook is the most influential social network with the most diverse user base. Use a personal page to promote your clinic and healthcare providers. Personal pages are more prominent in news feeds and give more opportunity to interact with your fans, i.e. wishing them "Happy Birthday." (It is also important to have a business page (aka a "fan page") for the practice for SEO purposes.)

5. Images of office life are the most important pieces of the social media DISCUSSION. People buy from people, not nameless, faceless, soulless businesses. Posting images and pictures of day-to-day life even on a clinic page is key to building a sense of community around your brand.

6. Social media influences search engine rankings. And having great search engine rankings improves your chances of being found when Betty types into Google "family practice in XYZ city."

7. Social media is the new "search engine." Many people look to social media to find the places and services they are looking for.

8. Social media offers the most highly targeted marketing opportunities. Less than a decade ago, if you wanted customers you might have to advertise on the radio or send out mailers. Today, reaching the specific prospective patient you are looking for is simple. You can drill down and target people down to their age, gender, geography, and interests.

9. Social media gives you more insight into your patients. By seeing which social media outlets are garnering the most "likes" or discussion feedback on healthcare issues (for example, links to important articles on timely material such as the benefits of the flu vaccine) you can get insight into your patients' worlds. Also: You cannot do it all, so once you have this information, pick two to three social media outlets where your ideal patients hang out, and be great at utilizing those.

10. There are people out there to help. For example, our company has a "Teach You to Fish" Program and a "Fish for You" Program to help you develop you social media marketing strategies for your practice.