Social Media For Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare is not a typical service industry. The impact it makes extends beyond providing instant gratification or fulfilling a want – with healing comes a better life. It is sustained by knowledgeable practitioners and patients who invest trust and time.
Social media is being treated as a cure-all for business challenges like customer attraction, retention and business growth. As a healthcare professional, are you tapping into the opportunity? This article will decrypt the "why" and provide tips on how to integrate social media into your business’ brand strategy. Read on.
Understanding the social media landscape
Australians have remarkably integrated social media into their lives. The average population owns three devices and 59% of them access social media more than five times a day. About 17 million (70% Australians) actively use Facebook while LinkedIn hosts 8 million Australian professionals (as of September 2017).
One effect of this is that average people/consumers turn to social media to look up, inspect and make observations about a person, brand or business before interacting with it or purchasing. This provides a window to make the right impression on prospects.
Social media for healthcare professionals and the advantages
Platforms like Facebook are commonly thought of as a leisurely and fun space. This made many professionals feel limited by the nature of their businesses – a perception which should change. As a healthcare professional, you can use social media platforms to inform and educate the community about health conditions, disease prevention, and treatment.
Splice Marketing recommends using social media in a complementary role to delivering effective, patient-focused healthcare. One can become a credible source of healthcare information and improve health literacy through online efforts. But, since there is no over-the-counter formula for conquering social media, it requires time and effort to build a presence.
Remember that social media is a vehicle to:
- Reach out to your existing patients to engage
- Create a positive, trustworthy impression through informative content on prospective patients to compel
- Connect with the medical community and harness your network to grow
- Create a holistic and consistent social footprint by cross-promoting to increase reach
The most valued outcome of your effort on social media is the trust and credibility that gets established towards you and your business.
Social media and industry rules and regulations
The extensive guidelines, codes, and policies introduced by the industry bodies to regulate medical and healthcare marketing deter healthcare professionals to undertake marketing afraid of the liabilities. Some common restrictions are not advertising any testimonials, not creating misleading expectations from treatment or providing discounts to attract prospects.
But, responsible marketing can be undertaken while keeping in mind the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which expects you to comply with the Boards’ social media policy and code of conduct if you are active on social media. You can read more about it here on our blog about what you need to know to stay compliant.
Now, with a clear understanding of what social media can achieve for you, it’s time to formulate a social media plan which can be a timeline to map out how you will use different platforms to attain goals.
Splice Marketing recommends prioritising Facebook, LinkedIn and blog posts.
Patients use social media as a source of evidence-based information. Understanding this, you must first create a Facebook Business Page. This will help you:
- Be Discovered: Get discovered by prospects who use Facebook as a directory.
- Be Accessible: Make your website and contact information open to more people.
- Be Connected: Create a space where you can connect with patients and colleagues alike, but, be in control of the conversation.
- Be a Thought Leader: Create discussions by introducing new ideas and providing opinions to engage with patients.
Sounds therapeutic, right?
What better way to establish credibility than to showcase your credentials and receive endorsements, and recommendations from your colleagues in an online CV? LinkedIn will help you:
- Showcase Your Abilities: An up-to-date online CV listing your credentials, work experience, awards alongside volunteer and community work can demonstrate your excellence and passion to patients and colleagues alike. It should also be used to promote your business profile.
- Connect and Reconnect with Professionals: It can help you become a dependable, credible voice in the industry. Join groups and networks to update your knowledge, start discussions on topics and track the responses.
- An Alternative to Emails: Connect with your referral networks and keep in touch through LinkedIn messages to avoid your communication piling up in a cluttered email inbox.
Blog posts on one’s own website and/or LinkedIn can be an effective medium to express thoughts and opinions on industry practices, trends, upcoming developments, amongst other topics. But, writing blog posts require two important skills – eloquence and the ability to understand what content is mutually relevant to you and your audience.
Figuring out points of mutual interest will ensure your blogs do not go unnoticed and impart value to your audience.
What are you waiting for?
Put your apprehensions away! By using social media thoughtfully, you can help establish your reputation online while achieving your bottom line objectives of attracting new patients, creating patient loyalty and essentially, growing your business.