Why Social Media Is Important to Your Medical Practice

September 18, 2014
Audrey Mclaughlin, RN

Social media gives you insight into the needs of your patients. Don't ignore the opportunity to market your practice to specific patient populations.

Did you know that nearly 20 percent of all time spent online is on a social media outlet? Late last week, we recorded some of our instructional videos on social media for the Physicians Practice Expert Academy. Here are a few of the takeaways:

1. Social media isn’t going anywhere. Some studies report one minute out of five minutes in a given day is spent on social media.  Don’t miss the opportunity to be there, in front of people, curating conversations about the parts of your practice you are passionate about.

2. Social media helps you build relationships. Whether with current patients and their families or prospective patients, social media makes it easy to stay in the forefront of patients' minds, and by lending yourself to becoming a resource you can cultivate a community around your practice.

3. Your social media presence influences search engine rankings. And having great search engine rankings improves your chances of being found when a patient types into Google: "family practice in Boston," for example. Did you know that 70 percent of Google searches result in a phone call to the business? You want to be found.

4. Social media is the new "search engine." Many people go to social media to find the places and services they are looking for; by looking for a business directly or by polling friends, family, and community members on social media.

5. 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, send out mailers, or advertise in the newspaper, which are targeted methods but not nearly as targeted as social media. Today, reaching the specific prospective patient you are looking for is simple and cost effective with social media. You can drill down and target people by their age, gender, geography, buying habits, and interests and then you get real time feedback on how many saw your information and took action. Whereas, with the old methods, you drop them all in the mailbox and then wonder if they made it in the trash or were opened.

The bottom line is that social media gives you more insight and interaction with your patients. Understanding 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) helps you see into your patients' worlds.