How to Use Social Media to Grow a Medical Practice
In today’s digital world, consumers are much less reliant on traditional forms of marketing. Advanced mobile technology and the rise of smartphones have made content accessible around the clock. This means that marketing demands have changed and so should your strategies – especially if you are in the healthcare industry.
As a medical marketer and content creator, I help medical professionals grow their brands and reach more patients through the use of social media. I’ve been creating daily content for years in a variety of healthcare and medical fields. My experience in the industry has taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few of my DOs and DON’Ts every healthcare and medial professional should know about.
- Ignore social media. The medical field probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of marketing. The truth is, health is a business like any other and you need to be growing your brand on social media. Facebook, Twitter and other advertising platforms offer affordable and highly targeted ways to reach more patients. Put together a plan just for social media. Outline your goals and how you’ll determine success.
- Jump on every social platform. Snapchat is NOT going to help grow your practice (at least not in the way you’d hope). I recommend sticking to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook is a great way to reach more patients and LinkedIn helps prove authority in the field. You should be putting content on both.
- Post protected information. This is big so let me say it again, DON’T post protected information. The first rule of using social media in healthcare is to never disclose protected information on social media. HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibits the use of PHI (protected health information) on social media. This means that any PHI posted needs to be at the (written) consent of the patient. Remember that photos of patients or PHI that could appear in the background of staff or patient photos can also violate HIPAA on social media.
- Respond to reviews. You really need to know the rules on engagement and social media. Someone asking about office hours or a link to your last blog post would be fine to respond publicly. What you can’t do is respond to a patient’s review of their experience with you or your practice. It doesn’t matter if the review is good or bad. Don’t do anything on social media acknowledging that the person is or was a patient. That breaks confidentiality. You can do things like change the settings on your Facebook Page so no comments are allowed (or need approval) so you control what’s being posted on your page.
- Have photo authorization forms. Authorization is necessary where disclosure is made to the public. This applies even if you don’t post the patient’s name. Remember that the rules for marketing and advertising are the same for public display. This means that those cute holiday cards parents send into their pediatrician on display in the waiting room could (technically) violate privacy. When you create your consent form, be sure to include 1) what the patient is specifically authorizing, 2) the purpose of the authorization/photo, 3) the ability to revoke the authorization with expiration date, 4) the opportunity to receive a copy and 6) who, specifically, the patient is giving authorization to. Be very specific. (Disclaimer: I’m a social media marketer, not an attorney. This isn’t meant to be legal advice. When in doubt, ask a lawyer.)
- Humanize your brand. Healthcare and medicine are, arguably, some of the most advanced and complicated fields of study. With that being said, stay away from medical jargon. Know your audience. Explain complicated conditions and terms in easy-to-follow ways. Lead with compassion and tailor to emotions in your content. Tell stories and share tips to help you connect.
- Create strategic content. Good content is planned content. Quality content can help you increate brand visibility, connect with your audience, create authority in your field and grow your business. Content drives conversions. Develop a content calendar you can use each week and be sure to push out a weekly blog. Constantly sharing news articles is not a marketing strategy. This helps push out other people’s content, not yours!
- Hire a professional. Quality content creation and social media management will take hours out of your day. In order for social media marketing to work, you need to devote your attention which is hard to do when you are a medical professional. It’s worth outsourcing the task to someone who can really help you grow so you can focus on what you do best.
Remember, potential patients want answers and they go to the Internet to find them. Become the voice of authority in your field. Attract new patients and gain more exposure by creating quality content with up-to-date information that they are seeking.
About the Author…
Nicole Bigar Orban
Social Media Marketing Consultant, Owner, Digital Content Creator
Nicole Bigar Orban founded Bigar Creative in 2014 fueled by passion to help businesses grow their brands.
Nicole specializes in medical and healthcare digital marketing with a specific focus and interest in the mental health field. She oversees and manages all client accounts and extends her services beyond social media account management to offer content writing, blogging, design, special event marketing and consulting services.
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