With the prevalence of social media, health care providers can no longer avoid being in the digital world.
In years past, if someone needed a referral, he/she would ask his/her primary doctor for one. He/She might have also asked friends and family for a “good doctor” and used those recommendations to find the appropriate provider.
However, times have changed. According to MSNBC, 93 million Americans have searched online for health care providers or for health information. That’s up 62% from last year!
What can medical practices and health providers do to make sure that they can be found? Here are some tips:
Have a Facebook brand page and make sure to send out relevant information on a daily basis. Try to engage your audience to ask questions and build your community so that you have a nice following. There are more than a billion people on Facebook. (You can promote the page in your office, via emails and through signage.)
- Don’t forget to Tweet. With more than 140 million users, Twitter is a great place for a medical practitioner to share his/her knowledge. Twitter is also used by the media to find sources, which could help you increase your reach.
- Blogs are important to establish because it sets you up as an expert and also enables you to get a better search engine optimization results. Google, Yahoo and Bing use blogs first when they rank their search results.
- Blogtalk Radio is a great outlet for physicians and other medical practitioners to get involved with and offer their expertise to these popular radio shows. Blogtalk Radio has several million listeners and can give you great exposure. (One day, cars will have Internet radio too!)
- A Wikipedia page is another way to get great exposure and visibility on the web especially if you have published papers, interviews and such.
- YouTube video podcasts should not be overlooked. If you have a good media presence, these types of videos can take you to the top of the charts and give you great exposure.
There are so many other social networking sites along with free and paid for sites that are important to include in your marketing plan including: yelp.com, healthgrades.com, among others.
One last thing, make sure you put up a Google alert on your name and/or perform Google searches on your name. You may be surprised what past or present patients are saying about you.
I recently went to a gastroenterologist who had tons of negative comments. Although very reluctant and skeptical, I went to him anyway because he was highly recommended by my gynecologist. To my dismay, the comments were true and since he never looked at them, he can’t even change his practice to accommodate complaints that were held against his office.
I had another incident with a medical practice that I had been going to for my knee. I called them during the summer to schedule an appointment. Since they had to order medication, they told me they would call to schedule an appointment when it came in. I never heard back from them. Months went by and I called them again. They never ordered the shots. Then a couple of months later, I got an email from them that they were on Facebook and to “like” the page. I sent an email back saying that they should be careful because if they don’t have customer service right, then they may want to consider other forms of digital marketing and not Facebook. I’m still waiting for a call back!
My suggestion to you is, if you are going to get involved in social media, start with good customer service and remember to listen to your community so that you continue to maintain a happy, mutually beneficial patient/doctor relationship.