Due to the decreased efficacy of traditional outbound marketing, business owners are making the switch to non-traditional inbound or internet marketing. The medical industry is not immune to the need to change and companies in this industry should address how social media marketing services can contribute to their overall marketing efforts. Internet and inbound marketing has proven to be a successful and cost effective alternative to the alternative. The average cost per lead is approximately 60% less with inbound marketing than with outbound marketing! This means a greater return on investment! There are 500 million active Facebook users and 126 million blogs on the Internet. The growth of social media has dramatically impacted the way companies communicate with consumers. Companies should be looking to social media marketing services to seize this opportunity to communicate with their customers or potential customers. By utilizing social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, company blogs and YouTube, medical practices can build online relationships with both patients and prospective patients. For any marketing campaign or social media marketing services campaign to be successful, the correct action steps must be taken. There are five key steps to implementing a social media campaign that should be followed to by any social media agency or individual company looking to extend their reach online.
1. Identify Your Market
Determine who your target market is and what demographic your practice best serves. Research where these people are converging online and then join in the conversation. By engaging with the online community you can share ideas and answer questions that are posted. This helps to position your practice as leaders in your specialty.
2. Start a Company Blog
A company blog allows the medical practice to share information with their readers on industry trends, technology changes, promotions and fun stories about the practice. This information helps the reader further connect and engage with the practice. A pitfall that is unfortunately all too common is that once a blog is implemented, it is not consistently updated. A good practice is for bloggers to write new posts weekly to keep their audience engaged and to help resonate their brand across the Internet. Solicit help from your staff to write blog posts. Rotate responsibility and repurpose articles previously written. Blogging takes commitment, however, it’s a fun way to help increase search engine ranking and position the practice as experts in their industry.
3. Add a Facebook and Twitter Account
Facebook and Twitter accounts have become the mainstream. They have become an excellent resource for people who are looking for recommendations on anything from restaurants to medical providers. Social media also provides a platform for people to discuss experiences about different brands.
Due to privacy issues, it is important that medical providers create a policy or statement that serves as a reminder to patients that anything posted online — in any forum – is not private. This should then be posted on their landing page. Once the accounts are launched, it is important to monitor your pages daily so questions can be addressed in a timely manner.
4. Interact With Your Online Community
One of the biggest questions medical providers have when launching a social media campaign is what should be done if and when a negative comment is posted about their practice. The answer is simple – address any comments, negative or otherwise. It looks much better to the community if concerns are addressed by someone in the practice than if it were ignored or deleted. It shows others that the practice cares to improve upon any negative experiences a patient may have had. We also recommend that providers encourage their community to share any questions or concerns they may have as long as they are generic in nature and do not violate HIPAA regulations. That said, patients who voluntarily release their health information in no way violate HIPAA or implicate their medical providers.
5. Monitor Your Online Presence
There are several social media monitoring tools available such as Google alerts and socialmention that allow you to search for keywords online. It is important to monitor your online reputation and social media mentions so comments can be addressed. If simplicity is what you are looking for, there are programs offered that combine social media marketing services and management as well as reputation management into one software package.
Once you or your social media agency have launched your social media accounts, be sure to promote your pages to all of your contacts. Add hyperlinks to your social accounts to all staff members email signatures. In addition, it is important to add links to your social media accounts on any promotional materials and marketing campaigns. By being proactive and becoming an expert at utilizing the tools available, you can successfully promote your practice and increase patients over time.
As a final note, it is important to be realistic about how quickly your efforts will pay off. Social media marketing services take time and love to pursue and to reap the benefits from. By dedicating yourself to your social media marketing campaign, you will achieve success by way of increased leads directed to your website, which in turn, leads to increased patients!!