In Part I we discussed why physicians and healthcare professionals should consider a social media presence. The interest, both online and offline was fantastic — As I have alluded to in the past. Physicians are no different than the billion or so who are already engaged online — but from a professional perspective they are simply more risk averse — and rightly so. They don’t want to expose themselves to malpractice risk and they certainly don’t want to waste money on a healthcare – social media endeavor that was not properly prepared for — and did not bear fruit.
A presence in healthcare and social media is a marathon — not a sprint.
As with the preparation for any marathon — the training begins long before the event begins. Planning for a digital media engagement is no different. Your preparation for a healthcare social media presence must begin offline.
Social Media and Healthcare ..
At its heart, digital media is about people, it is about relationships, and it is about communication. A social media presence is about educating, engaging and growing your audience, improving outcomes, compliance and potentially the bottom line of your practice.
Planning your Healthcare Social Media Presence
First off… kudos to you and your organization… the more useful, truthful, open, transparent, meaningful and actionable healthcare content that exists online, the better off all our potential patients and the public at large will be!
For most physicians and healthcare professionals, a presence in social media will be part of an overall marketing strategy. Do you have one? Do you understand the difference between Inbound and Outbound marketing techniques — and how it fits into your overall strategy? If not, all the more reason to start at the beginning. In future posts we’ll also explore the intricacies of foundation setting, social media properties, keywords, cornerstones, long tail versus short tail searches, inbound versus outbound marketing techniques and strategies, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Social media has never been so prevalent. Everywhere we turn, we see the constant reference to social media. So it’s little surprise that an understanding of social media is a must for every type of organization — especially in healthcare — and the key element to success is content.
As a physician, you possess an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience — Social media enables you to share that knowledge base and experience across the spectrum of social media properties and simply educating those seeking information. But social media is no different than many traditional marketing and communications activities — and getting back to basics will help ensure your organization maximizes its healthcare social media presence.
The following 7 tips will help you in your initial offline strategic planning initiatives for your healthcare social media presence.
- Besides yourself… who else in your office or practice is going to participate? Be ruthless when assessing your desire, your bandwidth and your skill sets. This may seem like a great idea now… but if you are not passionate and committed to it … it will quickly become a chore —and your online endeavor will be an abject failure.
- Communications and fostering relationships and thus a following means you or someone on your staff MUST be available to interact with patients who respond to blog posts, Twitter posts or Facebook posts. Not preparing for the two way nature of digital communication in healthcare and social media is like forgetting to suture a wound closed at the end of surgery.
- Set up guidelines, understand the rules of the road and where the speedtraps and potholes lie.
- Who is your audience? Are you interested in attracting patients from nearby, or do you feel that you want to contribute quality content to patients and consumers on a global scale?
- What is your message? Do you perform anterior approach hip replacements through a one inch incision? Do you or your practice offer something unique that sets you apart from other practices in your area? If not, don’t sweat it… most of us are in the same position — and social media works for us!
- What are you going to use as your foundation, anchor or homebase? Are you going to invest in a website or a blog? If you do, it’s worth it to spend the money on a custom WordPress platform verus a templated site which will ultimately limit your ability to scale your site, and to rank on google and other search engines.
- Content: Are you a curator, or a producer? It is not nearly as onerous as you think to create a website full of original, useful, actionable content. My 41st patient initiative is very useful when your web designer informs you that they will require your content in a few months. You can also set up a Google Reader list which you can visit every morning where google has delivered to you the content that your determined you are interested in. The lists can be driven by keywords or RSS feeds of blogs/sites you find engaging.