How physicians can make the most out of social media

Even if you have been reticent to join the social media fray, your patients haven’t. More than 40% of consumers claim the information they have located on social media affects their health care decisions (Mediabistro). While 30% of adults are willing to share health-related information on social media with other patients. That bumps up to 47% when the person they are sharing their information with is a physician (Fluency Media). Beyond the numbers, today’s consumer wants transparency and they demand accessibility. This is required from all businesses. Yes, even medical practices.  Even if you aren’t on social media, your patients will share their experiences and even review your practice. That’s why being active on social media is so vital. You want to control your own narrative and stay ahead of negative reviews. Don’t know where to start? Let’s see if we can help you find your way.

Which platforms?

We suggest using Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are where you can be more informal and fun, conversely LinkedIn is a great place for making professional connections so it’s a bit more buttoned up. Although you can have accounts for your medical practice, handled by staff, it’s best to keep things personal. So, creating personal accounts on those four platforms is paramount. People tend to trust other people more than they do entities and when it comes to medical information, trust is job number one. Fill out your profiles completely and include a photo of yourself – not your dog, wife, husband, children or favorite oak tree.

Be personal

To make real, meaningful connections you must be human on social media. That’s why in many cases, individual accounts perform so much better than their professional counterparts.  Being personal doesn’t mean you have to divulge everything about your personal life but giving your followers a look into your non-professional activities can build trust. For instance, on Instagram Dr. Mike Varshavski, aka Doctor Mike, has over 3 million followers. He has amassed this impressive following by featuring pictures of himself with his trusty canine, working out, attending posh events in addition to his professional life. This personal approach works extremely well on Instagram but also has broad appeal on Facebook and Twitter. Sure, you are a person of science, but your followers will appreciate the glimpse into what makes you tick outside of the medical practice. Toss aside the stethoscope and relax.

Flex your expertise muscles

Social media is the perfect medium to show your current and prospective patients that you are an expert in your field. You can do this by providing original content, through links to your blogs or just simply using the space on a post, and by sharing articles from reputable news sources. Make the content interesting and informative because your goal is to have it read and shared. When sharing this type of content utilize LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Instagram…not so much.

Expand your professional network on LinkedIn

Here’s an easy way to explain LinkedIn: While Instagram is like an informal party at your friend’s house where you can drink a beer and eat Fritos. LinkedIn is more akin to a mixer at a conference where you carry around a cocktail and attempt to impress other people in your field with your business cards. That doesn’t mean LinkedIn is tuxedo formal but it’s more professional. You can grow your network of colleagues on LinkedIn by, once again, sharing your expertise in your field. An occasional informal pic of you with your dog isn’t a sin on LinkedIn but think more professionally when crafting a content strategy for this platform.

 Engage on all platforms

 Unfortunately, the social part of social media tends to be lost when a content plan is implemented. Static posting isn’t enough, you must engage. Reply, share, comment, like and converse. That’s the whole premise of social media. Making connections. If you have followers asking you questions (within reason) you need to respond. Also, proactively engaging with other social media accounts spreads good will and grows your following. Really, this should be fun.

Overwhelming? Don’t worry it will get easier. A little investment in time and effort on social media may seem daunting at first but once you find your footing and your voice it can be entertaining and pay dividends. Don’t waste another day, start filling out your profiles, crafting awesome posts and engaging with other users. It’s a prescription for success.  

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