As social media has moved into to a mainstream facet of life, with approximately 2.46 billion social network users around the globe, many professions have learned how to get the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. and enhance their business practices. Businesses use social media to scout potential employees, study their competition, interact with their customers, and advertise their practices. While physicians for the most part may not have the largest platform, or the most followed content on social media, we at eMedEvents detail below why and how your practice can greatly benefit from the dominant world that is social media.
Brand Building- “You’re going to be a brand no matter what. It’s just a question of whether you’re going to let other folks do it for you, or whether you put things out there on your own and control your own brand,” says Dr. Gaines a board-certified emergency physician, who spent years as a health care journalist and now offers training to physicians on how properly navigate social media use. “Be effective with your online use, that doesn’t necessarily mean posting 10 times a day to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on, but it does mean finding your niche and seeing what you have to add to the social conversation that is already happening within your specialty or in your local health care community”1.
Scour the internet for trending topics in your field. Using SEO techniques is crucial to see what your competitors are up to, and what your potential clients/customers are interested in. Social media is not the only way to use SEO, but effective use can save time and energy. Make sure you intensify other brand-building efforts such as speaking engagements, medical journal articles or news media.
Expand your passion- “The beauty of social media is that you can reach people who wouldn’t automatically read or digest that information. By using some of the social media tools or hashtags, you can bring your information to a much wider audience than would normally read what you publish for a physician or medical interest base” says Dr. Gaines. As your professional interests change with time, so can the focus of your social media postings. “It’s such an opportunity to broaden your reach as a physician. We have so much knowledge after going through our training. Why limit it to the 40 patients you see a day when you could be reaching thousands of patients a day on social media?”
Educating your patient- Social media offers the opportunity to educate patients and the general public. There are a number of ways to educate via social media. One way is to upload a link to new research about your area of specialty. Another example of how you can educate your patients, is by recording videos of potential ideas on improving health tips to Facebook Live, Instagram Live or YouTube videos and share them with the public. The strongest benefit to social media use, is how quickly information can be shared and absorbed. You will be able to help those around the world, not only your patients, in a matter of seconds.
Share your research findings- Another benefit to anyone who has a social media presence, is it provides the common-man a platform to publish/voice his or her thoughts. “Engaging with and promoting high-quality research on social media also can help educate medical students and aspiring physicians, as well as help reporters and editors who are looking for story ideas to pursue”, says Dr. Gaines1.
Quality Customer Service- According to a 2017 report posted by Jennifer Landis, approximately 67% of customers/patients head to social media for their customer service needs. Customers crave the need for convenience, in turn it would be devastating for your practice, if your competition offers online customer service options and you do not. You may not have time to monitor your computer or telephone screen throughout the day, but assigning those duties to office managers, nurses, medical students, or interns can be just as effective. In some cases, this may reduce the need for face-to-face appointments, if your patients can have all of their questions/needs met online2.
Easier scheduling- There is nothing more frustrating for a patient, then the inability to schedule an appointment with a busy practitioner’s office. Offering the ability for patients to schedule their own appointments online, will reduce your patient’s anxiety, as opposed to having a busy receptionist take care of appointment scheduling. There are numerous software applications on the market that your patients can use to schedule their own appointments. Usually, these types of software will send automated email or text appointment reminders to your patients. This saves your staff time and allows them to focus more on the customer service experience when the patient is in the office2.
Build loyalty- Social media allows you to stay connected in a more intimate way with your patients. It gives you the ability to reach out to them and express your feelings on their overall health, and it’s a viable option in keeping track with your patient’s important life events, such as birthdays, weddings, graduations etc. Creating that ongoing dialogue is something your patients will appreciate. Offering them a friend, who cares about their health, and state of mind will bring generous opinions to your practice.
With dedication, consistent time, and effort you will soon see your social media presence grow and you’ll have tapped into an inexpensive marketing platform that will reduce your overall costs while increasing your exposure.
For any physicians looking to improve their social media presence, eMedEvents offers a course here.
- Kevin B. O’Reilly, 5 reasons why physicians should use social media professionally; April 2019; AMA
- Jennifer Landis, 5 Reasons Why Doctors Should Use Social Media; August 2017, The Doctor Weighs In