Social media is very different from other forms of communication everywhere, but especially in the medical field. Because it is so different, many doctors are apprehensive to join the social networking world. Many wonder how it can get them new patients and if its possible to get in trouble for patient confidentiality. After working with several doctors, I realized that many of them asked very similar questions. I hope with this post I can answer some that are most common.
There is no doubt that there are some big changes coming to the healthcare industry. For the first time doctors are finding that they need to market themselves. Social media allows for you to market your practice on a platform where your potential customers are already at. It allows potential patients to find you, making them more qualified of a lead. In todays online society, people trust other people who have a social following. If they see that their friends follow you, it makes them more likely to follow you. Also, even if they aren’t sick or don’t need your services now, your posts in their newsfeed will keep you in the back of their mind for when they do need help.
What networks do I need to join?
Believe it or not there are hundreds of social networks. The main ones being: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest. Although it is optimal if you are on all social networks (because it gives people the highest chance of finding you), you should start with at the very least making yourself a Facebook and a Linkedin page. (Click this link, If you are confused about the difference between Facebook pages and groups) Facebook allows for you to reach the biggest audience, there are people of all ages and walks of life on Facebook, so there is a good chance that you can find your target audience. Linkedin on the other hand is like a professional version of Facebook. It will allow you to connect with other professionals in your field and post educational articles and studies in a professional environment where they will be welcomed.
Can I get in legal trouble?
For some reason many doctors I talk to have a fear that they can get in trouble for confidentiality issues by using social media. Think of social media as any other form of communication – as long as you follow the same rules you will be fine. As far as patient confidentiality goes, if you wouldn’t say it in real life because it is against the rules, then don’t post it on the internet. It is that simple.
What do I post?
When it comes to posting on social media, remember one thing – everything you post should benefit your target audience. Don’t post things that they do not care about or they will unfollow you. Social media gives you a great opportunity to educate your followers. You can create posts about things that are trending in healthcare, such as allergies, flu shots, and new studies. Creating a blog that is connected to your website is one of the best ways to get the word out about your practice. A blog gives you the opportunity to write your own content, causing your followers to think of you as an expert in your field, making them more likely to go to you when they have an issue.
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