Ok, so you are ready to take the next step in promoting your medical practice online. You are well aware that statistics show that most of your patients use the Internet when looking for medical providers and you are ready to put yourself in front of them in a big way. The question then becomes, “how do you go about doing it?”
If you listen to what most people are saying right now about online activity, then you are likely to be pointed to one area of interest most of the time…SOCIAL MEDIA. Yes, there is no question that the Internet has evolved into mega sites like Facebook and Twitter where conversations occur between individuals AND businesses and those who are looking to promote their businesses can benefit as a result. BUT, is marketing with social media alone enough to take your business goals to the next level? If you answered yes, then you are making the “Social Media Mistake.”
Direct Marketing Rules
If given the choice between all other activities online and marketing to a large list of current patients using email, I would always choose the email option. The fact is, an email list of interested people who want to receive your communications almost always trumps other online activities no matter how ACTIVE they are in social media. This is not to say that social media marketing doesn’t have its place, but social media activities should be utilized as a way to grow your brand and patient engagement…not as an end in and of itself.
Let’s say you have created a Facebook Page for your business. It is active and you even have 1,000 or so “likes” who have decided to connect with your page for future updates and hear more about your practice and its services. Let’s then assume that you have a Twitter account with several hundred followers as well and you are getting more each day.
You can interact with individuals and possibly generate some real time interactions, but is that really your goal? Wouldn’t you rather convert as many of those individuals into real patients who can refer your practice? You see, when you are active in the social media world, not everyone whom you are dealing with is a qualified prospective patient in your local market. Sure there are 500 MILLION+ people on Facebook but only a very small minority of those folks are truly potential patients for your practice. Your job is to utilize social media sites effectively to attract those who might be interested in your practice to engage and learn about your practice and visit your website. The effect is using social media to engage and educate.
According to a 2008 report from the Direct Marketing Association, marketers could expect a return of $43.01 for every $1 spent on email marketing. And while the DMA predicts that by 2013 these numbers may decline to $37.99, the expected ROI is still fantastic. By comparison, there is currently no data showing that marketing with social media alone can come anywhere near those numbers. Social media is important and necessary to build your online presence but should be used as a component in a strategic marketing system.
Using Social Media
To get started, focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Facebook and Twitter are the easiest to get started on while YouTube may take a little more planning to develop some good video content but it should not be ignored.
- Facebook (click here to create a Facebook Page)
- Twitter (click here to create a Twitter profile)
- YouTube (click here to create a YouTube account)
The bottom line is, learn the different features that exist within the world of social media and utilize them to their most effective means to engage patients and funnel them into your website to learn more about your practice.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but a large email list of patients alone won’t do a thing…you have to craft messages that offer value to patients and keep educating them. As quickly as they opted in, they can opt out, so make sure to deliver timely, valuable content to them on a regular basis.
If you have identified a problem that many of your patients might be facing and you have a way to solve it, let them know. The more you show that you can identify with them, the more responsive they will be.
Until something comes along that outperforms it, email marketing is still the king when it comes to a direct line of communication with your patients. Thanks to the advent of social media, however, growing a quality brand and engaging patients has become even easier.