In this basics series, I have focused on blogging, but any social media outlet can be used for content marketing. Content is content whether it is written, spoken, or in image form.
The list of social media platforms is continually growing and currently more than half of all Americans use social media. That includes current and potential patients, so ignoring social media is no longer an option when marketing a medical practice.
But not all social media is the same so you need to choose wisely. Each has its own demographic and cultural environment. For example, my daughter and all her college friends use Snapchat religiously, but you will only find my mother on FaceBook.
Blogging was one of the earliest forms of social media. With its personable writing style and interactive comments section at the bottom of every post, it could be very social. And like any social situation, there are people who add to the conversation and are a delight to listen to. And there are those who don’t and aren’t (think internet trolls).
Those in the latter category can be loud and disagreeable, and in medicine the risk in giving them a forum can outweigh the marketing benefit of your blogpost. For that reason, most medical practices and hospitals that have a blog turn off the comments section.
Hands down, this makes blogging the safest form of “social” media.
This is not possible with other forms of social media because you don’t own the platform like you do your own website. The owners of Twitter or LinkedIn (etc.) decide what is OK to publish, and they can keep it up as long as they want. Read Amy’s post on avoiding digital sharecropping for more on this.
The other reason practices turn off comments is because of the time it takes to monitor and respond to people. And this is true of all forms of social media—to be effective you have to devote a lot of time to them.
Social media is like a party; you have to show up and engage or no one will notice you. Just like you would only go to one party at a time, it can be useful to get to know just one social media platform at a time. This way you can really dig in and see if it is a fit for you. It’s best to choose the platform you enjoy best and think you can stick to consistently.
It takes slow and steady attention to the social group on your platform for it to pay off. You need time to learn the social norms and to build up a good reputation. The point of using social media in content marketing is for people to notice and like you so you can get more patients.
Notice I said “more patients” and not “more followers.”
It is easy to get caught up in how many followers you have. But the followers don’t matter if they are not the right ones.
Who are the right followers? The ones who will make appointments or send new patients your way. This is important to think about when choosing the platform and when cultivating relationships within that space.
One of the great appeals of social media is the relaxed and friendly tone. When using it for marketing though, make sure you use the same professional conduct you would in person. Twitter is not the place to post drunk selfies or to rant about some crazy patient that came into the office. What you say can be easily misinterpreted and once it is published, there is no taking it back.
To help with this, many professional medical organizations and hospitals have developed social media guidelines that are freely available online. Read more about them in my post Don’t Blow it on Social Media: Resources for Healthcare Professionals.
Social media is a powerful tool to reach more people than ever before. Anymore, it is an indispensable part of any marketing campaign. Use it to get attention (toot your own horn)–just make sure you choose your trumpet wisely.
I have just one more post in this series to go. Next up, I’ll talk about tools of the trade.
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 1: What is Content Marketing?
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 2: Why Use Content Marketing for Medical Practices?
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 3: Bare Bones Approach to Content Strategy
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 4: Copywriting: Not Just for Selling Bananas
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 5: Stay on the Right Side of Medical Ethics
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 6: The Who, Where & What of Medical Content Generation
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 7: 5 Star Recipe: Writing for the Internet
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 8: Backstage Matters: SEO & Site Organization
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 9:Be Smart About Using Images in your Medical Blog
Image credit: © [Sunny studio] / AdobeStock