What Doctors Should Know about Social Marketing
Facebook has more than 800 million registered users, and LinkedIn has more than 100 million. Twitter generates more than 200 million tweets per day. Nobody knows how many blogs are actively updated, but a conservative estimate places the number in excess of 450 million. And last but not least, YouTube recently passed the two billion video views a day mark.
While these statistics include semi-active, inactive, or automated users, the skyrocketing popularity of social media is undeniable because we see its presence and influence around us every day. Medical practices can leverage social platforms for a variety of marketing purposes, including:
- Establishing authority and leadership within one’s specialty
- Generating brand awareness and word-of-mouth referrals in an ever-expanding sphere of influence
- Giving new and existing patients a way to interact with you, building and solidifying relationships
The Need for a Strategic Approach. Because social media is so big, so broad, and so free of rules, effective marketing engagement requires a high degree of discipline and organization. If a medical practice just dives in without a coherent plan, it will be exceedingly difficult to achieve any type of measureable results. Elements of an organized social media marketing program include:
- Strategy. All effective social media programs have specific goals, key performance indicators, and a plan for activities that is practical and consistent with the budget.
- Content Production and Syndication. Content is the currency of the social Web. To have influence and reach, social media participants must add relevant and meaningful content to the conversation, in the form of blog posts and comments, tweets, Facebook posts, and more.
- Social Monitoring. Many people do not realize that most social media content is searchable – allowing practices to see when people are talking about them or their specialty, and then join in that conversation. Regular monitoring enables practices to extend brand awareness and manage reputation.
- Community Building. Identifying and influencing people to join your social communities involves activities such as attracting subscribers to your blog, advertising on Facebook and scouring Twitter for users who are likely to be interested in your services. The more people who join your communities, the larger your sphere of influence.
- Analytics. There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of a practice’s social media efforts, including blog subscriptions, Facebook “Likes”, “retweets”, brand mentions, and traffic referred to your site from social media sources. By carefully reviewing this data, programs can be refined, doing more of what works … and less of what does not.
Doctors should know that social media is not free. Free membership to social media communities is definitely an attractive feature, but effective use of social media requires careful planning. In addition, execution can be very time consuming; moreover, some degree of real time participation is essential for fully engaging social communities. For doctors, these are significant challenges, because their schedules seldom allow for extensive, let alone real time, participation in social media.
Outsourcing overcomes the challenges. Officite’s full suite of social media and blog marketing services enables doctors to enjoy the best of both worlds: active participation in social media without being personally tied down to writing, publishing, community building, and the hundred and one other social media tasks that occur from day to day. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you get up and running on social media like a pro.