Define Your Goals
Before diving into the social media world, let’s define your purpose. If you’re like most other healthy medical practices, one of your primary goals is to acquire more patients. But to reach this goal, you’re going to have to measure your successes.
Make sure you create a simple way to monitor and track your progress. For most practices, this will mean monitoring the number of leads you generate through social media. Utilize services and third-party vendors that provide tracking of phone numbers or online scheduling tools that integrate with your social accounts, and track the links you post and landing pages you create. This information will help you evaluate the performance of your efforts.
It is also important that you have a clear understanding of which social networks and individual campaigns are bringing you business. This will allow your practice to re-evaluate your strategy over time and help you make educated marketing decisions.
Identify Your Target Audience
Who is your ideal patient? Don’t just focus on current patients. You’ll want to determine the characteristics and demographics of your ideal patients because you want to focus on acquiring patients who will bring you the most value.
Identifying the unique markers of this group will help you cultivate the patient profile(s) you’ll use to develop your social media strategy. Ask yourself:
• What are their demographics? Specifically, what gender are they, how old are they, where do they live, what is their income level, what do they do?
• What types of issues are they concerned with?
• How do they describe themselves? Read the social media bios of some of your core patients to understand their interests, activities and priorities.
• Who do they interact with? Do they interact with your competitors? Do they engage with other businesses on social media?
• Which social networks are they active on? Do they use Facebook? Do they share photos on Pinterest?
• What type of information do they want? Are they of child-bearing age and concerned with varicose veins? Would they need superficial vein treatment?
Tap into all your resources to gather this information.
Have your receptionist or patient coordinator select 5–10
patients and inquire about their social media habits and how
they’d like to connect with your practice online. Hearing
these real-life scenarios can help you foresee the level of
activity and engagement you should expect.
After you’ve gathered this information, write out simple profiles and stories about each type of patient. Select 1–3 profiles you think define your ideal patient base to use in your strategy development.
Remember, these should be groups:
• You want to work with
• Who want or need your services
• Are willing to spend the money to satisfy that need
Develop Your Social Media Strategy
Now that you have an understanding of who your target audience is, it’s time to create a social media strategy that will attract and engage the right set of followers. All the content and communication that takes place on your social media channels should be a reflection of a persona you are targeting. You want to maintain a consistent and authentic voice. Your social media presence should be someone your patients can and will relate to.
Decide Where Your Content Will Live
Establish a clear home base for your social media activity. Whether you’ll be using your website, a blog, or landing pages, you’ll need to make the decision early on in the process to ensure consistency. A home base will help you monitor your performance and will provide a place to direct social influencers.
Set Up Your Social Media Accounts
Target the appropriate social media platforms. With so many networks to choose from, the idea of using them all on a regular basis can be a bit intimidating. Instead, choose a few that closely match your target audience. The primary social networking platforms include:
Once your strategy has been in place for a few months, review each network’s performance to determine what is and isn’t working.
Create an Editorial Calendar
Social media requires great content. Content is truly at the root of attracting the right social media followers and interactions. Keep in mind that what you post on social networks travels beyond the current set of followers you have, so it is important to create a clear and targeted content plan.
You will want to create an editorial calendar that acts as a guide to define what topics you will be discussing each week or month, where to share specific pieces of content and how much time you devote to each social platform. Depending on your social media resources, you’ll want to use a variety of social content formats:
• Q&A Interviews
Before you hit “publish,” ask yourself the following questions:
• Is this a topic my target audience will be interested in? Does it sound like something my social media persona would say?
• Is this tweet/article/post considered educational or spam? If there’s even a glimmer of spam, trash it.
• Is this content shareable? If it’s not educational thoughtful, won’t make our jaws drop, doesn’t provoke an emotion, or provide value, chances are it won’t get shared and won’t convert any followers into new patients.
Anytime you create shareable content, make sure you tweet, post and pin the content. When used correctly, social media is an excellent way to position your practice as an industry expert and leader.
Develop Relationships with Your Influencers
Research who your influencers are. Whether they are patients, other industry experts, or web community leaders, you will want to cultivate symbiotic relationships. Find a way to strike up a conversation and give them a reason to share your content. For example, when you share a blog post, find a way to mention them in your tweet or post; it will give them a reason to share your content. Influencers can help you spread the word about your practice and your brand; they can help you reach new followers and possiblynew leads and patients.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you build these relationships:
1. Be authentic. Take the time to get to know people and start a conversation with them via a tweet or an email that’s unique and genuine.
2. Guest blogging. Offer to feature an influencer on your blog or website. This will attract new followers and create additional content for your site.
3. Think online and offline. If you find your target audience is quite active in offline community groups, take the time to reach out to the PR and social media contact. They may be interested in sharing your expertise with the common audience.
Follow these steps to create a clearly defined and focused social media strategy. Once you’ve put your plan into action, it’s time to build your following, engage your audience and grow your practice.
Keep the core premise of social media in mind as you continue to create content and post to social networks: People want to connect, learn and share interesting and useful content. Give your core audience valuable, authentic content and they will reward you with Internet gold—digital word-of-mouth marketing.