Why Social Media Matters in Your Medical Practice

July 11, 2013

In Part 1 of my social media series, an overview of the most popular engines and posting tactics for physicians.

Quite simply stated, social media matters to your practice because it allows you to connect with more patients. And when you connect with more people in your community, you are giving yourself and your clinic the opportunity to serve more people.

Begin by determining who you want to reach, who is your ideal patient, and then jump into social media with both feet.

Who do you want to connect with?

 

According to a study that ended in 2012, 71 percent of women and 62 percent of men use social media on four main platforms. Here’s a brief overview of each of them.

1. Facebook: Facebook has 67 percent of all Internet users liking and posting to each others’ walls and is most popular with 18- to 49-year-olds. Looking for patients 50 to 64 years of age? About 50 percent use Facebook, as do about 33 percent of the 65-and-older crowd. Those are a lot of demographics to consider. Because Facebook is the most popular platform that reaches the largest demographic of people, I advise clients to use Facebook, plus another platform or two that they enjoy participating in. One of the keys to connecting with your ideal patients on Facebook is to use your personal page. Business pages no longer scroll in users’ news feeds as they did previously; they only scroll in the pages feed, which appears as a small button on the lower left column. Never noticed it? Exactly… neither have your patients. Primarily, only paid ads appear in the main feed on Facebook. 

Using your personal page with your name gives you more freedom to connect as you can see what your friends are posting and comment on their posts and pictures as well.

2. Twitter: Twitter has roughly 16 percent of Internet uses hooked. Twitter has the highest number of under 17-year-old users and the lowest number of over-65 users, with the rest of the statistics closely mimicking Facebook.

3. Instagram: Instagram is growing in popularity, especially with businesses, and has roped in 13 percent of Internet users. Of those users 24 percent are under 18, about 65 percent are 18 to 35.

4. Pinterest: Pinterest is phenomenally popular with women, and even more specifically moms. Pinterest carries 15 percent of Internet users. Interestingly enough, 30 percent of users have a household income of over 100k. Pinterest also boasts the highest number of referrals to websites of the pins that are posted.

 

What do you post?

Let's revisit your ideal patient. Are you looking for "good patients" who deliberately seek health information? Then health information is what you post!

Post a good, healthy (no pun intended) mix of personal photos and statements, links to blog posts on your practice website, events, local information, office funnies (no patient pictures without releases), testimonials, compliments, national health/medicine-related news stories, patient resources, and announcements. Mix it up and keep it natural.

 

When do you post?

The best times to connect and be seen are around 8:30 a.m., the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to -1 p.m., and then 5 p.m. or after. Post according to the time zone where you’re located.

Who should post?

Ideally, you. However I understand that adding another responsibility to a physician’s plate can be daunting. So there are two good options if spending time on social media is not your cup of tea.

1. Autopost Services: Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, and Tweetdeck round out the top four autopost services. Each one has posting programs that cost between zero and $40 per month per user. The nice thing about the auto posters is that you can set your post in advance and then only log in to your social media sites to respond and comment on others’ posts. The downside is that your post will have a tag on it, such as "powered by Hootsuite," which will give savvy users the indication that you are not present and set things up in advance.

2. Customized spreadsheet: I think this is the best option I have created a system for clients where the upcoming week’s scheduled posts are determined in advance, plugged into a spreadsheet, and then posted either by the physician on the account or delegated to another trusted source on staff in the clinic.

Social media is a very simple, and essentially free, way to connect with your ideal patients and serve more patients. For next week’s post I will drill down further and share a simple acronym that will help you to keep your posts on track.