How Your Practice Can Benefit from Social Media Network Marketing

Social media networking began as a consumer-to-consumer activity but has very quickly turned into a critical business marketing strategy. Social media networking allows your practice to reach patients and referrers with custom messaging that establishes and builds customer relationships and brand awareness (the essence of who you are as a practitioner and all the services you provide). Consider…

Most businesses – including private healthcare practices – now regularly use social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn for hiring, patient support, brand recognition and patient acquisition and retention. Social media is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies available. Your cost of acquiring new patients is significantly lower than with many other marketing strategies. Best of all, social networking gives you an opportunity to create lasting relationships.

A sound social media marketing program delivers
Here are some additional benefits you can expect from social network marketing:

• Authentic feedback from your target audience (patients and referral sources)
• Integration with traditional marketing programs and strategies
• Highly targeted audiences
• Improved search engine optimization and positioning
• Much lower costs than traditional advertising
• Long-term wider impact than conventional public relations

It pays to “eavesdrop”
Patients look to objective (and some not-so-objective) Internet sources to compare doctors and practice offerings. Current patients are also quite willing to share their experiences, good or bad, with others on various Internet directories, search engines and review sites (e.g. City Search).

You can’t control their chatter or eliminate a negative review. But you can learn what patients really want or need. You can also get a unique glimpse of your practice or your brand of care through your patient’s eyes.

Some savvy healthcare providers have made major strides in patient care just by “listening in” on Twitter. When their name is mentioned, they know it. When a patient has a problem, the provider can help them within minutes.

To be successful, practitioners learn to listen first before they take action. Maintaining a regular monitoring program will help you understand your patient’s experience and how it changes as you implement online social marketing programs.

Measuring your success
How do you measure the success of a social media campaign? First, you must define your goals. Whether you want increased traffic to your website, website conversions or leads, you must have clear objectives to determine your level of success in short- and long-term intervals. For you, success might include:

• Gaining a better understanding of your patients and their needs
• Increasing your practice exposure in new and positive ways
• Reducing the cost of reaching your target audience (vs. other tactics)
• Increasing patient inquiries and conversions
• Attracting more desirable patients and case types

Social networking media is not a fad. It’s growing and here to stay. Learn to use it to your advantage and help ensure that your practice remains healthy and profitable.