Do you remember the days before social media? No matter whether you’re GenX or from the “Okay, Boomer” cohort, and no matter how hard you fought against it, the use of social media platforms has no doubt become part of your personal and professional life. But aside from posting (and watching) cat videos or whatever the latest TikTok challenge is, are you using social media to its best advantage for your practice?
From attracting new patients to keeping current ones engaged and informed, social media can be an invaluable tool, but only if you’re using it correctly. Many practices follow misguided strategies with a decision to abandon its use entirely, and that’s a mistake. Social media works only if you have the right mindset and avoid making the most common marketing mistakes.
Let’s first take a quick look at the right way to think about social media marketing and then pinpoint some pitfalls to avoid.
The Right Approach to Social Media Marketing
When marketers first realized the power and potential of social media, they immediately began to focus on building big communities. Getting followers and clicks became the mantra and mindset, and that was quickly adopted by businesses of all stripes, including medical practices. Unfortunately, follows didn’t necessarily flow into expanded patient rolls, and as the effort to generate new content yielded too few rewards, practice managers quickly gave up.
Today, medical practices with successful social media marketing campaigns have a completely different mindset. Rather than trying to convert clicks into appointments, they’ve recognized that social media platforms’ greatest utility lies in the ease with which you can educate and engage your patients – whether they’re current or potential. By providing useful information that answers pre-existing questions, you become a trusted authority rather than another page demanding that viewers ‘click here.’
The other important use of social media is to build knowledge about your practice. The more people know about what sets you apart – whether it’s your areas of expertise, the comfort of your waiting room, the expertise of your providers, or the compassion with which you treat your patients – the more likely you are to be the one that people turn to when they need care.
Common Social Media Mistakes That Healthcare Professionals Make
Now that you know the right way to go about things, let’s look at the most common mistakes healthcare professionals make when trying to market their practices online. Don’t worry about it if you’re making some – or even all – of them. Reading this is the first step to correcting the error of your ways and improving your online engagement efforts.
1. Thinking of medical office marketing as a transaction
When it comes to medical care, patients – especially potential patients – make decisions based on perceived competence and compassion rather than persuasion. Snake oil salesmen may no longer be hawking their cures from the backs of horse-drawn wagons, but their image is still with us, and people instinctively distrust doctors who are trying to sell them on their services. Rather than thinking of your social media account as a promotional tool, work instead to provide the information that patients need – and that they’ll share with their friends and family members. Offering timely content that’s relevant to what’s going on in patients’ lives – sun protection during the summer; flu shot information; and guidance on cancer screening tests — is the best way to connect, engage, and inspire trust.
2. Failing to respond to negative reviews or encourage positive ones
More and more patients are turning to physician review sites when making their provider decisions. If you have a negative review voicing frustration with long wait times or surly service, you can be sure that it will have a long life unless you do something about it. Responding to negative reviews in a positive and welcoming way, and fixing the problem, is a powerful way to turn a bad situation around. And you can improve things even more if you ask your patients to submit positive reviews on these popular sites. They’re worth their weight in gold.
3. Not using video.
Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are all popular, shareable social media sites that can attract a lot of attention if used correctly, and the best use of these platforms is with video. If you post a photo and a lot of wordy content, there’s a good chance that people will scroll right past. But if you use an attention-grabbing video, people are far more likely to stop, watch, and share. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to shoot a video of one of your physicians explaining a new treatment or talking about the benefits of a new medication. And you don’t need to limit these highlights to the doctors on staff. Have your front office staff give a video ‘tour’ of your office or explain the check-in process. Prepare a quick presentation walking people through your patient portal. When you calm people’s concerns and answer their questions about your practice on video, you make yourself much more memorable and appealing.
4. Ignoring digital marketing completely.
No matter how long you’ve been in practice or how much you may dislike social media, ignoring its popularity and its usefulness is one of the biggest mistakes you – or any business – can make. One of the first things most potential patients do when they’re looking for a healthcare professional is either a Google search or posting a plea for a recommendation online, to their social media community. Practices that have not invested in creating a robust online presence – whether through an informative website or an active Facebook page, or that have failed to claim their Google business listing and provide simple information about hours, location, and insurance accepted, are letting opportunities slip through their fingers.
5. Not keeping up with new technology.
You may not think of your office technology as being related to social media, but it is, and that’s especially true when it comes to your communication technology. What potential or existing patients hear when they first contact your practice makes a big impression, and so can the amount of time they’re on hold, how long it takes to connect to a provider, and how quickly they can schedule an appointment. RingRx’s advanced, HIPAA-compliant healthcare communication system does more than streamline your office. It allows you to customize patient communications to eliminate many of the issues that generate negative reviews, offering customized welcome menus, call routing, immediate access to patient profiles, and more. You can even send patients secure text messages asking them to post an online review of your practice!
Contact us today to learn more about RingRx and how it can help make your office more efficient and patient-friendly.