Establishing and Maintaining Positive Social Media Presence

Written by on April 1, 2014 in Practice tips - No comments

So you have worked behind the scenes for months, preparing to open your practice. You may even have a book of patients you are bringing with you, but you know the limited list won’t last forever.

How can you develop a growing patient base of qualified patients?

Your online presence is your reputation in the 21st century.  Although past generations developed reputations through word-of-mouth, current patients rely on online information for their referrals.

Your online presence also is your voice among patients.  Although you will receive referrals from peers, patients now examine Facebook pages and Websites in order to determine the quality of care, communication effectiveness, and even value among practitioners.

How can you stand out among the competition whose websites are also beautifully created and fully functional?

iPadPositiveWEBThe answer is social media. These platforms can help you maintain an appealing presence, driving business to your website and to your door, and keeping your practice engaged with patients.  You will be the expert in your field through your social media postings. More importantly, your thorough social media presence will move your ranking higher on the search engines.

The example I have is our little county’s Medical Society.  Shortly after the revised website was launched, Hits per Month tallied only about 300.  Once the social media platforms had been in use for five months, that number was up to 1800 HPM, and three months after that, reached a high of 2700 HPM.  Why was this significant?  Our Society’s website hosts an online referral page, so visits to that site translate directly into income for the Members.

There are two goals for your social media strategy: to maintain a great reputation while building a patient base, and to drive traffic to the practice website.  When there is an intentional, scheduled effort, designed with these two goals in mind, you will succeed in developing your book of patients.

For help developing your social media strategy, there are a number of businesses that can do that for you. If you are willing to put in a little time, you can achieve the social media presence that you want by following these steps.

  1. Gather your ideas.  You want to present information that is useful to patients that might use your practice.  For example, a neurologist might want to choose symptoms of head injury or accident injury, detailing warning signs.   Here are some suggestions to rotate:
    1. Profile of provider/team member
    2. Statistic about specialty
    3. Link to specialty article online (written for non-physicians)
    4. Exercise routine to suggest
    5. Diet routine to suggest
    6. Anecdote
    7. Something silly or funny (joke or cartoon)
    8. Date to remember (could even be Daylight Savings time)
    9. Coupon
    10. Short video
    11. “Tips” for a great visit with the practitioner
    12. Announce new service or new web page
  2. Set a schedule.  Decide on the days and times of updates. For example, Mondays and Thursdays are our Society’s posting days, plus more as qualified news breaks.
  3. Assign each category of item an upload date.  By planning months in advance, you decrease time spent on social media.
  4. If preferred, choose a scheduling App to automatically distribute the item across media platforms.  One of these is Hoot Suite, but there are several available for free or low cost.  This technique insures content distribution on schedule, preferably at 8:00am, the busiest time for social media.

Of course, all this work is for naught if you do not monitor your own online presence.  The easiest way to do this is to create Google Alerts for

  • Your own name,
  • Your practice name,
  • Your team members’ names,
  • Your affiliated locations names (hospital, surgical center, satellite offices).

Please be sure to do these searches as you create them to discover your current online reputation.  If you have recent negative comments, try to handle them before your new practice opens.

Please note: when a negative review occurs, please follow these steps to rebuild your online presence. 1) Reach out to the reviewer to try to resolve the issue; 2) Post how you resolved the issue; and 3) Ask contented patients to write their own positive reviews for you.   Prospective patients who are searching for care will weigh the number of positive VS negative, and be able to evaluate the numbers.

Even if you choose to wait to begin your online presence, be sure to create the search for your name.  There is a review of you already, on one of the health-focused review sites or elsewhere, and you need to know now what is being said about you and your work.  Healthgrades and WebMD do not need your permission to receive reviews on you, so please take 30 minutes to investigate your name online.

Finally, don’t forget to use multiple platforms for your social media presence. At a minimum, use Google+ and Facebook, and add Twitter also if you can. Nor should you forget to put social media “buttons” on your website, so that your current patients can say that they “like” you!

Best of luck as you stage your practice for success!

For media-specific statistics visit:
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/growth-social-media-2-0-infographic/77055/

By Tricia Maddrey Baker
Executive Director
Pitt County Medical Society

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