Social media is the fastest trend in the world with more than 2 billion monthly active users as of first quarter of year 2018. These are some of the important tips , which can be used increase your medical practice using popular social media profile.
Promotion of practice : why is it important ?
It’s not about you , its about them
The medical practice is always centred around the patient not the doctor. Promotion of the medical practice is all about the patients. It is all about protecting the interest of the patients , adding value to his/her life and providing him/her the best possible services. If there no patients , there is no practice.
Practice must be promoted so that you are on the patients radar when he or she is in need. You should promote your practice to let him know that you have solution to his problem. Patient should know his/her problem and also that you are the best person to solve it. If you do not promote yourself, it’s quite likely the patient will end up with someone he/she should not.
Its common to see patients receiving wrong treatment from untrained doctors in spite of a competent doctor practicing just a block away. The untrained one had not had enough moral courage to say no to the patient and trained one was had not had enough time and energy to promote himself.
Good doctors often do not promote themselves. They think that so long as they are doing good job, there reputation will spread by word of the mouth. This was correct at times when the medical practice was not as competitive as it is today and we did not have the social media. There is so much of the noise around, it is difficult to have your voice heard. But it is impossible if you do not speak at all. Doctors should realise that he/she should speak so that interest of the patients can be protected. They should speak so that patient can differentiate a good doctor from an ordinary. It is not about you, it is about them.
Promotion of the practice becomes unethical when the it is directed to to the soul agenda of furthering the financial/ personal interest of the doctor or the hospital. In today’s competitive landscape, medical practice is more of an investment, for which one needs an immediate return. As the return has to come from the patients one need them at all cost. If that means trapping the patients through wrong information or false promises then so be it. Things become bad when doctor becomes party to it.
It may be profitable in a short run. Slowly the number of unsatisfied clients begin to swell and everybody know that you don’t know your job. Medical practice is all about to trust. Once you lose it you cannot get it back by giving the discounts. In the long run it is a poor business strategy.
Ethical promotion of medical practice is all about slowly building the pool of satisfied patients which in turn influence and bring in more more patients of similar social profile. The newer patients have clear idea of what you have to offer and have trust in you. The trust comes from the fact that you are recommended by someone patient know and trust. Ethical promotion of medical practice is the best business strategy.
How to ethically promote your practice?
So if you do not trust the messenger,
Why would you trust the message?
Medical practice is all about the reputation of the practitioner. The sole purpose of the promotion is to build a good reputation of the practitioner in his field of practice. The dictionary defines it as “ the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something” or “ a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic” . Simply put, what comes to the mind of a patient, when he hears your name ?
- Patients views about you, your competence and clinical skills.
- Patient trust you and your facility.
- Patient hopes from your treatment.
- Patient experience with your services.
And how do you do that ?
There are no magic tricks to do that. All you have to do is to keep the following points in your mind, and inculcate in your day to day clinical routine.
1 : Define your identity
If you can not describe what you do in a single sentence of few simple words, how do you expect a patient to understand, let alone remember it. Keep your introduction precise and simple for patient to remember.
Keep your looks strictly formal and professional. That is how people remember you, and your professional looks help a patient to trust you.
Clearly define your identity in following headings
- Specialty, subspeciality and and area of expertise.
- Geographic area of professional activity.
- Demographic age group you are primarily targeting.
- Socio-economic class of patients you plan to cater.
- Working days and hours you are professionally active.
- Social media platforms and professional groups in which you are active.
This will help you to avoid wasting your time and energy in low priority areas. In medical practice , time and energy are always in short supply. Use them wisely.
2 : Be Consistent
Stay consistent in promoting your practice in the priority areas defined in your identity. Consistency is not only important in the field of specialisation but also in other defined spaces, like targeted patient profile and social media platforms. Its is not important to be active on many social media platforms, but whichever you choose, its better you stick to it.
Consistency is also important in temporal sense. It matters how often you post on a social media platform, but it matters more that you maintain the consistency.
People start posting on twitter daily for a month or so and then slowly lose the enthusiasm. They might be missing for next 3 months before coming back. A better strategy is to start slow, may be single post in a month and then slowly increase the count. Whatever frequency is convenient, maintain it. Medical Practice is a marathon not a sprint.
3 : Speak for yourself
Books and publications
The importance of scientific publications cannot be emphasized enough. Publications in peer review journals and scientific text book gives you a distinct identity of an expert that goes beyond the geographic boundaries. If this is not in your priority, than you should have it as new year’s resolution for the next year.
Though the readership of the these type of scientific literature is limited to fellow doctors only, the reputation finally diffuses to the patients. It takes long time but the returns worth the efforts. It requires lot of patience and hard work, if you can do it, there is nothing better than that.
Blogs has certain distinct advantages as a mean to attract the attention of the common people and doctor of other specialities to the issue you intend to highlight. It demands low investment as compared to textbooks and peer review journals and has larger readership. It is probably the best way to let everybody know that you can provide solution to a particular patients related issue, which you are discussing in the blog.
Participating in the debates going on on the social media is a great way to promote your name in your specialty of you practice. Make sure that you are focused on clearly define objectives related to your practice. One should avoid the temptation of participating trending topics especially controversies and politics.
4 : Listen what others has to say
Willingness to take feedback is very important to modulate your promotion to the changing landscape of medical practice. Its is important to listen what others are talking about you and your services. It is equally important to listen what they are talking about your fellow practitioner.
Social media : The fastest trend
Wikipedia defines it as “Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.
It has three important components
- Online social networks like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and many more.
- Social media groups and communities.
- User-generated content : videos, pictures, blogs , articles and more
Rapidly spreading internet devices and usage , combined with multiple social networking apps has produced an absolutely spectacular new medium for social interaction. The medium is fast, ubiquitous, addictive and very efficient.
Social media is the fastest trend in the world with more than 2 billion monthly active users as of first quarter of year 2018. Most of you will not be surprised to know that Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide, with a global usage penetration of 22.9 percent. But some of you may be surprised to know that India is at first place with 270 million users in the list of countries with maximum number of users. It is ahead of the United States which is at second-ranked with 240 million users.
If Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), is to be believed, India has 478 million mobile internet user by the June of 2018. It also claim that 59 percent of the urban population has access to mobile internet and the rural population is fast catching up. Almost half of the user are younger than 25.
India currently has in between 300-400 million smartphone users and those who do not have one are rapidly upgrading into smart phones
How can social media increase your medical practice ?
1 : Creating a strong brand identity
As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says “branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” As a medical practitioner , it basically means what perception the people have about your reputation and professional connectivity. The perception is significantly affected by the patient ‘s experience and services that you provide. The social media is increasingly getting flooded with the content which is either directly about you, or a person you interacted with or an event you participated in.
So its totally your choice. You can actively control it to shape the public perception the way you want to them perceive, or you can leave it to chance. Its unlikely that your competitors are would take this issue casually.
Greater is your engagement with patients in social media, easier will it be for you to achieve you targets of practice, be it in getting newer patients or their willingness to accept your services.
2 : Increased patient engagement
Your authority over the field of your specialization and activities on the social media will help users to find your content and if it is really engaging that might share it. It’s the sharing of your content which is ultimate litmus test of the quality of the content. It also shows how accurately have you targeted your content. If the good quality content is targeted to wrong audience, the effort to create that content will go down the drain.
That bring us to the issue of users or audience. The doctor should have very clear ideas who are the people you are targeting. If you are a kidney transplant surgeon , naturally you will not Target your content to Young working female. But that will be the target population for a Lasik surgeon.
Social media promotion and visibility will help the user to engage with your content and will visit you website or clinics , and so on. But it is not a one way traffic. It also give you client a control to express and disseminate his or her view about you. It is for sure that user will share his or her experience on social media. What a practitioner can do is to provide a platform where at least the doctor can reply back. Failure to do that will result in dissemination of one side of story in isolated communities of social media. It may be out right misinformation about you, and worse still you may remain totally uninformed.
A tweet sharing an obvious over-prescription of drugs , by a practitioner. it’s retweeted by many who came across. Right or wrong, good or bad , a news spreads fast on social media.
It’s not that the patient only have their grudges to share on social media. Satisfied patient use social media to share their good news among their communities. That’s is better promotion of your capabilities if a patient is sharing is good experience. All you have to do is to amplify it among the appropriate user.
Users share the information not only about you but also about your competitors. No business can decide a business strategy without factoring in the competition. In the competitive landscape of clinical practice, it’s even more relevant. Social media is a prefect tool to get accurate estimate of your competitors, not just what they are doing wrong, but also what is working for them.
In practice, patient is god, but a competent and loyal employee is no lesser god. People gather information regarding the prospective employer before even thinking about applying. The social media also gives you an eagle eyes view of the professional landscape, if you are out for head hunting of new employee. Of course you can keep an eye on existing employee through their social media activities.
3 : Break physical boundaries
Seth Godin describe “
Revolutions destroy what is perfect and make the impossible a reality”.
Social media is a revolution which is not only spreading like a wild fire, it is disrupting every established business that is coming it’s way.
If you think the music , retail and travel industries were vulnerable , and medical practice will be resilient for disruption, than it will be a mistake.
The online services are not limited to the doctor discover and ordering and delivery of medicine. On-line consultation and tele-medicine , with all it’s limitations are are slowly gaining the ground. It’s not limited to the teaching institution’s sponsored programs, it’s very much becoming a business.
The US bases company doctor on demand has not only received a fresh round of funding, it has also been accepted by government to be included in the public funded health plans, there by giving it formal legitimacy. The reason is simple, the online services are cheaper, so more people can afford it. At least it’s better than absolutely no access to the doctor. Now it can be anybodies guess how would Indian government react if it gets any such proposal.
If anything is online, it is on social media.
Social media offers a parallel channel to every possible service that is delivered online. It not only provide you with your own canvas to paint your own picture, it also guarantee that the canvas is big and choices of color are infinite.
Take the example of doctor search site Practo. You can have profile which the patient can access, so also your competitors. They have strict format of what can you can display and what you can not. Anything that allows a direct communication between the patient and doctor is not allowed, because that will make the sites irrelevant.
The site ensure everyone looks the same. So user can choose the one who is cheap and easily accessible. But the doctor are not the same, just like any other field, there are good ones and exceptionally good ones. Now the question is how does an exceptionally good doctor stand out of the rest.
Now look at the Facebook page of doctor.You paint your picture the way you want. Have you photos,share you videos.let people post comments and connect. You can display everything that you want your client to know. They actually encourage you to communicate. Facebook is no mediator, filtering every message.
Strategy: Best use of social media
1 : Focus
Start focusing on social media, among the options of the promotion you have. In terms the demand for time and money, it’s still the cheapest. for the a beginner, there are plenty of the option which are totally free. If you are new in the practice, you don’t need to purchase any paid ads. Facebook profile, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter and Instagram account are in them self best advertisement, for free.
If you are already using these medium than you should start taking it more seriously. Most of the social media network help you advertise . All the network help you target the ads to the user details. Facebook can help you pin point your ads not only to a geographic area, demographic parameters, but also on taste, preference and more.
2 : Integrity
Medical practice is among those profession which is greatly affected by the reputation of the the doctor. Like a film star you are known by you last hit. Or miss. People make a perception about you from the variety of the content they notice about you on different social media and communities. You can not be a reputed surgeon holding a scalpel on one site and contesting assembly elections donning khaki on other. You should clearly define what kind of image you want for yourself (scalpel or khaki) and stick to it across the media be it Facebook or Instagram. This holds good for photos, you post, comments you make and the content you share tweet ,tag or pin.
It’s not about you, it’s about them.
It can be used as a test to assess if you are posting is good. Ask yourself if this post will add any value to you patient or not. If yes, post it, If not, than you know what should be done with it. A simple post about how a patient can avoid falling in washroom is great. So is the arrival or a new CAT Scan in your facility, it must be shared with others. But can you say the same for the photos of the inauguration party of new CAT Scan , with cake smeared on the doctor’s face ? I will say it can be avoided as it’s not about them.
3 : Content
Everything that you share on social media is content. your profile photo, photo of your foreign trip, a comment on someone else photo, a video shared or tweeted, a blog written by you. every thing is content. an every type of content has its own utility depending on the platform you are using.
4 : Consistency
No body likes someone who publishes in bursts for a week than suddenly he/she is nowhere to be seen for next three months. Its important to have good content , but its even more important to publish it consistently. Start with once a fortnight , if that is all you can manage in your busy practice. You can always increase it up to once a week or more, as is possible. Than stick to it.
It basically means the interaction of people with the content you publish on social media. It can be a like, a recommend, a comment, a share retweet or up-vote. Your target should be that others share your content, and that is the best gauge of its quality.
Not everyone is active on social media every second of the day, plus the there are millions of viewers and an equally staggering volume of the content uploaded on the social media, every second. How do you ensure you content meets the right eyes? The best policy is to share your media on multiple platforms and frequently. If you have published it once, it’s absolutely okay to post it again twice or few times a day. You also need to know how to target the content for a particular profile of users.
HASHTAGS # though you will see it more frequently on twitter, they’re a very common used use to add meta information to your content. It helps in targeting the content to particular group of users using or searching the content using these hashtags.
There are more than 200 hundred social media networks and many are added to the list every week. Facebook LinkedIn , twitter, Instagram , Pinterest , Google plus , Reddit and Quora and the list goes on an on. You need whole team of skilled people who can professionally manage all of them together. But you can choose a few, depending on your taste and amount of time you are willing to spent.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are three every doctor should invest in. add Instagram a if you have still more time and energy left with you.
Practice makes a man perfect.
Tweet , tweet and tweet, to make a perfect practice.
It’s like a metro station, there are lot of people around, but everyone is busy and no one has time to listen to what you have to say.
There are more than 18000 new tweets posted on twitter every second, so you should have something interesting to say , for people to stop and listen. It’s no surprise that the average lifespan on a tweet is less than quarter of what a post last on facebook. Its difficult to make a ‘place for yourself and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
‘But it has a distinct advantage over others, which makes it so popular among marketers.
It’s a big party where everybody is there, you can talk to anyone, even the strangers. You don’t have to introduce yourself, pursue or comment. Just go and talk. All you have to do is to tag him in your content, to get a person’s attention, if you are lucky than a reply also. This makes it so valuable a platform, if you have right mix of talent and patience.
What can you achieved with twitter ?
- Get more people visit your profile and learn about you and your services.
- Get more people who actual avail your services
- Better connectivity with patients
- Build followers.
These are few tact of the trades which will help your practice stand out, if done in a way the successful people have done it.
You cannot expect others to talk about you, when you yourself is not doing that. Use your profile to accurately display your qualification, abilities and services that you provide in your facility. You can even use use it to display your contact details.
1 : Profile
Photos : Medical practice is all about trust. Photos should be identifiable and professional. The option of background photograph provides a good opportunity to display your facility or brand.
Write your Twitter bio to address the audience you are targeting. keep it simple and include the information, which what matter most your patient chest specialist. If the space allowed write about your achievements and associations medical practice is a serious business
Practice is a serious business so casual photographs, funny pictures and comments should be to be avoided
Add relevant hashtags so that people can find the account that looking for you.
These are few examples how profile photograph background photograph and fire can be used stipulate an excellent profile.
2 : Do basic research
Use the common hashtags for your specialty or the services to search for what is happening in your field. You can see the news, views, people, clinics, hospitals and more.
A : Patients profile
Scanning the patient profile will let you decide what kind of issues the patients are raising in your filed of specialisation.
B : Service providers
Keeping an eye on the content posted by others especially the fellow doctors gives the best idea what type of content is working and how the users are reacting to it. Find out the influencers in your field and find the ways to connect them. Interact with other professionals related to the field who may not be your actual competitors like paramedics and other supporting staff. Following them not only gives you a great Insight into practice but also helps build your brand.
4 : Content:
It’s not about you , it’s about them.
As already said, it’s like a party. One attribute that really helps twitter stand out among other social media platforms, is that people can talk. You can start a discussion , or participate in debate already on. Only if you contribution is wise and positive , others will like it, and some will start following you. The best way to increase your following on twitter is to participate in the discussions. You can use hashtags to find what is being discussed on any topic.
1 : Help others
Your posts should clearly demonstrate the value that you are trying to add to others, directly or indirectly. Showcasing that’s that you are trying to make people’s life better is always appreciated
2 : Educate others
One of the reasons why people come to social media is to find answers to their questions, which they may or may not accurately articulate. People will stop and listen you, if you have something important and useful to say.
3 : Appreciate others
People always reciprocate by appreciating you back . Appreciate what others are doing, share and retweet what other are tweeting. It always help.
4 : Promote
Once you are done with everything, promote. Why should people come to see you unless you do not ask them? Clear call for action is very important for people to know what you and decide to avail your services.
5 : Promote without pitching
You can promote even without saying so explicitly. Providing information to the usual patient related issues are the best way to attract the attention of the potential patients
6 : Share the happiness
Let others know if patients are happy. Positive experience shared by a fellow patient is one of the commonest way people use to decide their doctor. Use it whenever possible.
7 : Be interesting
There are no hard and fast rule , for what works on twitter, what doesn’t. Just make sure that it is interesting. Ensure that the topic is rightly timed and has the correct context.
8 : Count and frequency.
Ideal situation is to post as many post as you cana but that you will have no time for your practice. Best way is to start will minimum number you can manage. It may be once a day or once a week as is convenient. You can slowly increase the count as you manage or delegate someone else to do it, but consistency is important. As an average tweet last only for few minutes, so it is advisable to retweet is as many times as possible so that it can be seen by maximum number people.
9 : Timing
It’s often advised that one should tweet daily at a fix time . We do not agree with that as everybody is not available at same time . At breakfast time, at lunch and in the evening are the three convenient slots which should be used interchangeably to tweet. That givens a tweet the bets changes of been seen by maximum number of users, at least, theoretically.
5 . Analyse how your tweets are performing
A : Profile views
Twitter provides you the tools to see how your tweets are doing. The total number of the tweets are directly related to the number of impressions it get, and more importantly the profile views. It is the profile views which matters for practice point of view. So more you tweet better it is. Unlike Facebook , twitter do not penalize you for tweeting more.
Regular tweeting not only attract the people you are following, it also attract the people who follow you.
Mentions tells us about how people are discussing about our tweets. It tell about how interesting out tweets are.
If you stop tweeting, people quickly forget you, as many new tweets are pouring in regularly. So tweet, tweet and tweet.
Followers decide who you are. It is not only the numbers, but also the profile of followers. The most important fact is how popular they themself in their domain of influence. Your followers can not only introduce you to whole lot of new people but stamp their approval on what you are pitching.
C : Effective of Content
You need to look into what is working and what is not. The well received content needs to be frequently tweeted and retweeted so that others may also see it
The best place on social media where doctors feel at home is LinkedIn. The discourse is serious and every body just mean business, exactly the way doctors want.
There are few interesting points which worth to be mentioned hereT
One cannot emphasize it enough that you should have an updated profile on LinkedIn.
A report from U.S. News survey from 2014 says more than one fourth of Americans searches online to find a doctor. We are observing a similar pattern from India as well. That is not surprising. What is amazing is the fact that they make their decisions on the basis of doctor’s education and medical training, and their hospital affiliation.
LinkedIn profile provide the best online platform to do that. It has options to showcase your skills and scientific publications, patents and rewards. It’s quite understandable that all patients might not understand your publications and patents, but your colleagues and people from related fraternity can.
Unlike the doctor discovery website, most social media websites allow, the user to display their contact details. Here you can show your clinic address, your website and contact number. Make the best use of it.
This bring us to the second important point in LinkedIn profile, your connections.
2 : Connectivity
More than third of the patients rely on recommendations from their friends to decide who they should consult. Patients think now they have enough information about a doctor to make an informed choice. So it really matters that you are well contented. What matters even more, that the people that you are connected with, know what you are best in.
LinkedIn offers the options of the professional groups, which are similar to that of Facebook. Only difference is that people do not join LinkedIn group for fun and gossip. As people are basically there to do business, they appreciate if you showcase your skills, specialty services, newer observations and research. Use the groups to let everybody know your services and how do you stand out from your competition.
All this is possible if you know what type of content is popular on LinkedIn.
3 : Content
Long form , detailed and well researched article, coming from a person of authority in the field, have traditionally done well on LinkedIn. Length of the article is not an issue as long as you know what you are talking about. If targeted to appropriate audience and groups, engagement rates are good, as everybody here means business.
The videos are also getting progressively popular on LinkedIn. If you stick to your core speciality , video do just as well on LinkedIn
Once in a while you will also come across the motivational post, which are well accepted by others. but these should always be the last choice of content to post, not the first.
4 : Content Sharing and Promotion
LinkedIn provide excellent tools to assess who are engaging with your content. LinkedIn has higher engagement rates than Facebook. LinkedIn also provide options of paid ads if you want your content to advertise.
Though , Facebook is supposed to be a social media site, but the shear number of user make it the first choice among the marketers as well. It is not surprising that the number of Facebook users and the Facebook advertisement rates are constantly rising .
As a practicing clinician, Facebook should not be ignored as it is becoming primacy mean of communication and exchange of information , in our society. Its common to see people missing to take their medications, but at the same time , people are finding it difficult to stay away from Facebook.
Facebook business pageIt is common to see doctors being active Facebook but not having the Facebook business page of their practice.
You have the option of displaying the details of the services that you offer, including the price (if you wish to), and the contact details so that patient can contact use directly. This is beside the regular messaging services offered by Facebook. You can post the details about any event related to your practice and even create an entire community around it. This is far better that any doctor search and discovery website, you enrol with.
Facebook groups offers two distinct advantages to the user.
- You can target your content to a very specific group of people with a clearly defined characteristics.
- Keep an eye on trends and activity of competitors.
- Interact with potential patients, as groups are commonly used by patients to inquire about health issues.
Groups are the best places to display and advertise your skill and services. Try to add value helping a patients by providing him with valuable information about any medical issue, so that others are encouraged to share. Avoid placing an overt sales pitch, as these are discouraged by admins and other users.
If you think that Instagram is only for the kids then you should think again. Not for nothing brands like Harvard Business Review and MasterCard promote their products on Instagram. And so also the doctors, clinics and hospitals.
Profile have option of giving your phone number email address and even the Google location. All you have to do is to draw the user’s attention so that it looks to your profile.
Instagram allows you to post pictures and short duration videos in the description segment there is no word limit but you cannot add a link to it.
It is not surprising that visually appealing photos, pictures with motivational text are very popular on Instagram so make sure that you published something which is very visual appealing.
People do not come to Instagram to for entertainment. Aesthetically unappealing photographs, photographs of patients during surgery or scary stuff related to the clinical practice should better be avoided. What might be okay for a doctor may simply be scary for a normal person.
1 : Promotion
Instagram the words do not mind continuous bombardment of advertisement after advertisement. As long as you can ensure that the post is visually appealing and can draw the attention of someone scrolling Instagram feed it is ok.
There are very limited options for the user in form of buttons to be distracted cluster post are displayed one by one. This is the reason why the conversion rate of the ads posted on Instagram is highest all social media. If user like the post, he or she explores it, and gets converted into a customer. As the description section does not allow you to add link, user has to actively check your profile to get converted, whatever you’re right in description must have clear call to action.
2 : Type of post
- Informational/ motivational post for patients having images along with bold text on the image.
- Images of your facility oblique clinic or hospital.
- Avoid the photographs of the patients as it might disclose his/her identity, which is ethically wrong.
For practicing doctors , social media offers immense opportunities to show case their skills to a larger audience. what matters is how well you use it?
Share your experience in promoting your practice on the social media. Let us know what issues are you facing in this regard. Share this post with others if you find it useful.
Scientific studies report that most individuals (81%) say that they “learned something new” regarding their health, the last time they went online. The majority (80%) of people found the information through a search engine as reliable.