You and your practice are already on social media, even if you haven’t developed a profile on any of the available platforms. It’s a good idea to take control of your profile and use social media as a tool to enhance your marketing efforts, especially among younger audiences that are more apt to like, share or comment on your information.
Many businesses consider social media a virtual face-to-face conversation with current and prospective patients. Social media can be an effective element in a marketing campaign because it allows businesses to engage, or interact directly, with others. It gives you a platform for offering information and for others to accept it or ask for something else. Social media can supplement traditional marketing, such as print, broadcast and direct mail. In many cases, marketing via social media outlets is less expensive than traditional advertising and the impact can be just as powerful.
Many patients use social media to share comments about their experiences with you and your staff and, as long as those comments are positive, their posts and reviews can boost referrals through today’s version of word of mouth advertising.
Be aware that social media can influence heath care decisions. Active and former patients can use various social media platforms and possibly even popular review sites to evaluate healthcare providers and the treatment and service they received in a particular practice. Prospective patients may use the same platforms to research potential healthcare providers before making a selection. They may also use it to evaluate healthcare providers they’ve visited.
While avid and experienced social media users are often quick to cite the benefits of engagement on specific platforms, remember that success requires a certain level of commitment to monitoring each site, posting content on a regular basis and responding to questions and other posts in a timely, transparent and appropriate manner.
Also remember that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and other privacy laws apply to your exchanges on social media, and be careful not to inadvertently establish a doctor-patient relationship through social media exchanges.
Review the suggestions in the Checklist for Engaging in Social Media before you actually get started in this arena. If you’re already active in that area, browse through the information and see if anything should be tweaked to improve the practice’s online presence. Also review the Blogging: Tips & Types, Sample Content Calendar – Dental Topicsand Sample Content Calendar – Non-Dental Topicsarticles in this module for ideas on possible topics for your social media activity.
Blogging: Tips & Types [PDF]