Social media isn’t just for socializing anymore. It’s an immediate way to exchange information and content in a way that, until recent years, wasn’t possible for medical practices. Not only is a social media presence a great way to showcase content, but it also gives your practice a chance to let others know what organizations you’re a part of, what news sources you follow, and what’s going on in your office that patients might be interested in.
The best part is that utilizing social media allows you to market your practice through the “recommendations” of your followers. When a follower shares your content, their friends (social contacts) get to see it too.
Who Uses Social Media?
According to a study from 2018, 69% of Americans are on some type of social media.
A common misconception some doctors and medical professionals have is that patients don’t utilize social media for health information. A study published by PwC found that more than 70% of consumers would welcome social media-based tools like ‘make an appointment’ or ‘ask a question’ from their medical care providers. Also, 42% of consumers have sought out reviews of treatments, physicians, and other patient experiences through social media.
The information posted on social media can also be an influencing factor for a patient choosing a doctor; 41% of people said the information found via social media could affect their decision.
What Should a Medical Practice Post on Social Media?
Take some control over what can be found about you or your medical practice! Strengthen the existing referral relationships or start establishing new relationships through regular content publishing and interaction on social media. Of course, you can’t diagnose anyone or give specific medical advice. But you can suggest things that people might want to think about, such as easy exercises to prevent back pain or advice about healthy eating habits and nutrition.
Establish your online presence, and then start interacting and responding! Responding to comments and questions will help build a positive interaction with your followers and make them feel valued that you took the time to respond to them, trust me they will love you for it! It is also important to develop a routine for monitoring and replying to post, this will help to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
And not only will your current and potential patients read content in social media, but your colleagues will too.
How Do I Decide Which Social Media Platform is Best for my Doctors?
Before you start building your social media page, it is important to determine “Who are we trying to reach?” Knowing who your audience is, including their general age and interests, will help you decide which social media platform to use.
The top three social media platforms we recommend for doctors are generally:
FYI, just because these are the top social media platforms doesn’t mean you have to jump right into doing all three. Pick the platform that is best for you and your audience.
A study from 2018, found the social media users are young adults, between the ages of 18-29. YouTube and Facebook also have a large percentage of users that are middle-aged between 30-49.
Restrain from posting anything that the average person might consider gross or sensitive such as blood, infections, cancerous moles, etc.
A quick word of advice when you’re interacting on social media: do not give personal medical advice or reveal any confidential patient information online. Just be cautious of what you’re posting to avoid any HIPAA violations with discussing patient-specific information in a public forum.
In what ways can you provide Facebook content that’s relevant to your practice?
A survey by the National Research Corporation found that over 40% of respondents rely on social networking for health information. And among those respondents, 94% turn to Facebook.
Facebook has many features you can use to not only engage existing patients but attract new ones. You can post patient testimonials and reviews, blog posts, videos, or question/answer segments. These are all ideas which can be easily shared with others via social media, who may not have known about you before.
A great example of a Q&A would be a sports medicine doctor hosting a live Q&A after a marathon and talking about normal aches and pains.
Your primary goal here is to get people sharing and interacting with your information. The more Facebook sees the interaction, the more they’ll allow your posts to appear in your followers’ newsfeeds.
Another social media platform to consider utilizing is Twitter. Twitter is an open forum for conversations and ideas using short snippets. You have 280 characters or less to say what you need to say. We find that other physicians or medically-focused organizations will follow a medical practice or physician so they can share that content with their own followers.
For example, if the American Cancer Society tweeted new colon cancer screening guidelines, you can then retweet that to your followers.
Word gets around fast on Twitter.
Video has had huge growth over the past couple of years. A big part of this is because of YouTube. YouTube allows users to upload, share, comment, and subscribe to other users. Videos can be used to help increase awareness about your practice and educate about different diseases and treatments.
YouTube has over 1 billion unique visits a month and is used by a wide range of age group, 45% of Americans use YouTube daily. Many people assume that it's mostly kids on YouTube, but 35+ and 55+ age groups are the fastest-growing demographic in the platform. Also, 93% of businesses reported getting a new customer after posting a video on social media.
There’s Always More to Learn!
Now that you know how to get Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube working for your medical practice, it’s time to create your accounts. Start reaching out and listening to what your patients have to say. Fill out your profile completely, and be sure to include your contact information and welcome questions or comments on your page.
If you’d like to learn more about how to grow your medical practice through an increased referral base, we recommend reading our free ebook.
Originally published May 2015. Updated August 2019.