Episode 010 – Building Your Brand and Interacting with Patients Using Social Media
On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, hosts Garrett Smith and Don Lee tell you how you can build your brand and interact with patients using social media. Garrett and Don discuss why your practice should be on social media, what opportunities are available today, and how you can go about using social media to grow your brand, and gain new patient appointments. For more information about this episode, and the complete show notes, please continue reading below.
What You Will Learn
On this episode of the practice marketing podcast you will learn:
- Why your practice should be using social media
- How your can practice build awareness amongst patients using social media
- What you need to do in order to be successful with social media
Segment #1 – Why your practice should be using social media?
- It’s a popular place where patient’s spend their time. It’s the new word of mouth marketing or friends and family referral.
- According to a PwC Health Research Institute survey, around 40 percent of people use social media when researching a health care provider.
- What’s even more important is that among patients between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, a full 90 percent turn to social media to find medical information.
- How are patients using social media to find medical information and providers? Patients are going to social networks to ask their friends, family, and followers for recommendations on care providers.
- Patients are also joining help groups comprised of hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands of other people who are afflicted with similar conditions and diseases.
- In addition, social networks provide you and your practice with the ability to run very targeted demographic based advertising campaigns that can be very successful in reaching the right kinds of patients.
Over 40 percent of all people, and a staggering 90 percent of patients eighteen to twenty-four using social media when researching a health care provider, social networks have disrupted and is quickly replacing traditional friends and family referrals.
Segment #2 – How your practice can build awareness amongst patients using social media
- To start the hardest part of social media for most practices is the social part. In order to be successful, you need to be willing to put yourself out there, to become the start, and peel back the curtain on your practice…and life.
- If you’re comfortable with this, your next step is to make sure that each of your profiles is live, up to date, and reflective of you and your practice. This includes the avatar, cover image, images of you and the practice, plus all the required details to complete your profile.
- Once you’re confident in your profile, you want to spend a bit of time thinking about what you want to share, and when. This is a more in-depth process than we can cover today, but understanding what to share (and when), is important to your success.
- Now that you’ve got a base and a plan, it time to actually create social posts. When it comes to the creative, it’s important to determine whether you will do this yourself, or work with a consultant or agency.
- Note that even if you are working with an agency, or consultant, you will likely need to participate! Remember, on social media, you are the star of the show and patients want to see you!
The hardest part of social media for most practices is the social part! In order to be successful, you need to be willing to put yourself out there, to become the start, and peel back the curtain on your practice…and life.
Segment #3 – What you need to do in order to be successful with social media
- First, you need to be authentic and personal. Patients want to see you, and get to know you.
- You should participate in conversations, and respond to comments left by patients.
- You should be providing fun and interesting information. Clinical studies and journal articles are nice for your peers, but go over the head of patients.
- Don’t just talk about yourself and your practice. Share news from your local community, trusted websites, and even other practices.
- Post reviews that patients have left for you online, take pictures with them when their in the office, and even share before and afters of your great work. It’s okay to brag a little, but not all the time.
- Lastly, don’t mix your personal and professional accounts. Keep them separate, if and whenever possible; your personal accounts often do not have the same tools and tracking as your professional ones.
Your practice can be successful with social media if you’re willing to be open, and put in the time to contribute, fun, interesting, and unique information. It won’t happen overnight, but over time, you can use social media to build awareness and grow your practice.
Full Episode Transcript
Garrett Smith: 00:00 Hey everyone, Garrett here. For more information about engaging with patients on social media, check out chapter nine in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Health Care Practices. Available at HealthcareMarketingBook.com.
Don Lee: 00:12 Hey Garrett, everyone tells me I need to be active on social media. Is that true?
Garrett Smith: 00:16 On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, you will learn, why your practice should be using social media. How your practice can build awareness amongst patients using social media, and what you need to do in order to be successful with social media.
Speaker 3: 00:32 Are you looking to take your practice to the next level? Well, you’re in the right place. Welcome to The Practice Marketing Podcast. With your hosts Garret Smith and Don Lee.
Garrett Smith: 00:44 Hey there welcome back, episode number ten, building your brand and interacting with patients using social media. With you as always, is Garret Smith here, your host, my cohost Don Lee, and were excited today to talk a little bit more about social media.
Don Lee: 00:59 Yeah, you can’t go too far today without hearing about social media or probably being on social media yourself. So, it’s not surprising that the general wisdom is, you need to be on social media, so let’s talk about that.
Garrett Smith: 01:13 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s very obvious that social networks are a very popular place for patients, they’re spending a lot of time there. I’ve said before that social media really is the new word of mouth marketing. Or, you know the friends and family referral and really, you know a lot of research backs that up. You know there’s, uh, PWC Health Research Institute survey that said about 40 percent of people use social media when researching a healthcare provider. And what’s even more interesting is among patients between the ages of 18 and 24, a full 90 percent are sear- uh turning to social media to find their medical information.
Garrett Smith: 01:48 And so it’s very evident, and should be very transparent that that folks are going to social media to discuss their, their health concerns and to do research on health care providers. And and that’s and that’s’ really the primary reason why your practice should be using social media. But you know, one of the things that I think happens to a lot of, uh, practitioners, and private practices, is there there a little disillusioned when it comes to social media. I think they imagine that you know, I’m gonna on there, I’m gonna do a bunch of posts, and all of a sudden, I’m gonna have hundreds of thousands of patients across the world, singing my praises. And the reality is is it really doesn’t work like that. First and foremost, a lot of patients are really going to social media to ask for a recommendation. So they’re going to their network, and they’re asking their friends, their families, their followers, for a recommendation on a care [prod 00:02:36]. Or … by doing that they sort of are opening up your practice, to be talked about by your existing patients in a positive light. You know, inside of that that, comment.
Garrett Smith: 02:46 You know the next thing is that patients are also joining help groups. Uh, especially on social networks such as Facebook. That are often times comprised of hundreds, or tens of thousands of other patients who are afflicted with the same conditions and diseases and are going to these groups for help. And so, really when you start to kind of look at social media in your practice, I think that social media is great, not because you can go on there and post and talk about yourself. But really because social networks give you and your practice the ability to run very targeting demographic based advertising campaigns. That are, or that can be very successful in reaching the right kind of patients.
Garrett Smith: 03:26 We’re going to talk about this in a little bit, but I always say that in order to be successful with social media, and social media posting, you’ve really gotta be social first. And we’ll talk a little bit about that before. But but really, you should be using social media because patients are going there to look for recommendations and you wanna be included in that uh, discussion. And number two, there’s a lot of groups that you could participate in, specific to your specialty, because patients are getting together online, you know, especially on sites like Facebook, to discuss these conditions and diseases. And I’m sure you know, a subject matter expert, a medical professional would be a welcome member of that group.
Don Lee: 04:02 Yeah, in a sense it almost sounds like, it’s an online business card, right? You’re giving your patients, or people who want to talk about you in the context of social media, Facebook et cetera, just kinda this business card that they can hand to the friend, say, “Oh you’re looking for an orthopedist? Here’s one, and here’s the card so you can find him nice and easy.”
Garrett Smith: 04:20 100 percent. I mean, I-I see this almost every day, a friend or a family member that I’m connected with on some- on a social network, let’s say like Facebook, will say, “Hey I’m looking for a great dentist in the area, uh, does anybody recommend him?” And then I see, you know, dozens of people saying, “Oh, go talk with Doctor Jones.” Or, “Go talk with Doctor Smith.” And they’re actually embedding a link to their Facebook profile. And so the person who’s asking for these referrals, and these recommendations is actually going to see the avatar of your page, the listing. Probably the rating that you have on your profile. And so in that alone, that is something that you can use social media for and be very very successful.
Garrett Smith: 04:59 Also, too, you can use it to target a specific patient demographic that is oftentimes very difficult to reach with let’s say search ads, or just regular, normal, organic posting. Which is only gonna reach the actual audience that you have today.
Garrett Smith: 05:18 Pro tip number one. Over 40 percent of all people and a staggering 90 percent of patients 18 to 24, use social media when researching a healthcare provider. Social networks have disrupted and th- are quickly replacing traditional friends and family referrals.
Don Lee: 05:39 All right, Garrett, so we’re talking here, really then, about an awareness channel. And that I can use social media as a channel for raising awareness about my practice and my services. So how do I go about doing that?
Garrett Smith: 05:50 I think the hardest part of going about this, and the hardest part of social media for more practices and practitioners, is really the social part. I really stress to anybody that that I’ve worked with or I start to work with, or am going to be working with, that in order to be successful on social media, you really need to be willing to put yourself out there. To become the start of the show and really peel back the curtain on your practice and life. And that’s something that, you know, not too many medical practices, healthcare practices uh, practitioners uh, physicians are comfortable doing.
Garrett Smith: 06:21 And so, you know, I say right out of the gate, unless you want to be the star of the show, you want to be the celebrity quote unquote, uh, it’s going to be very difficult for you to amass a large following, if you don’t already have a large patient following at your practice. That said, if you are actually comfortable with this and you do what to become a bit of the star of the show, and give folks a behind the scenes look at your practice and some of your life. I think that before you even get started with social media, you wanna make sure you have profiles. That they’re live, that they’re up to date and reflective of you in your practice. So they fit with your online brand. Uh, a lot of these social networks makes constant updates, and so if you created a profile a year ago, you may log in to find that there’s different fields of information that are required, different tools that are present.
Garrett Smith: 07:07 And as a result of that, I always say, the best thing to do when you’re starting with social media is to start with an audit, or an assessment of where you’re at. You know, things you want to pay attention to, obviously you know the avatar, that’s on your profile. The cover image. Uh, you’re gonna wanna have nice images of you in the practice. Uh, just like you would maybe on your Google My Business profile. If you’ve got videos, those are great to upload. Action shots, you completing services or treatments. Perhaps even you know, just hanging out in the office with patients. Plus, obviously, all of those kind of fill in the blank details about who you are, what your mission is. Where your office is located.
Garrett Smith: 07:43 Once you’re kind of confident in that profile a-and that it’s accurate, up to date, and and representative of you and the practice, I think you really need to spend a bit of time thinking about what you want to share. And when you wanna share it. This is really a, a more in depth process than we can probably cover in 15 minutes today. But understanding what to share, and the sort of position you wanna take, or the way, or the perception you wanna build for you and your practice. Is very important to have defined and understood before you even start posting. I see a lot of practices that are very excited and eager to get into social media, but what ends up happening is they don’t have a plan.
Garrett Smith: 08:20 And so they just sort of kind of end up pushing out marginal posts to just be doing it. And really that’s a lot of wasted time and effort. And so you really gotta start with a plan. And so once you do actually have a plan, when it comes to actually doing creative things, I think it’s important to determine whether you have time time and talent to do it internally, or you need to work with a consultant or an agency. And even then, even if you’re working with an agency or a consultant, your gonna need to participate. Again, remember on social media, patients wanna see you, they wanna see the, the staff of the practice. They don’t just want to have some mundane posts that uh, give you FAQs and did you knows.
Garrett Smith: 09:00 They wanna see the people and they wanna learn a little bit more about you. Remember that’s what social media and social networking i-is all about.
Don Lee: 09:06 Yeah, I really like you framed this, Garrett, and the … it makes a ton of sense. Because what are people interested in in social, is like what’s unique and different and personal and I completely agree. As someone who spends a, a fair amount of time at least on on social media, is there’s a lot of just really boring, mundane stuff out there. Where it’s just, you know there’s 100 people sharing the same kind of posts or a new article came out and everybody’s sharing the same article and it’s like that’s not exiting. It’s not gonna differentiate you in anyway or get peoples attention. So I really like the way you’re framing this. Of, you know if you wanna be the star, go do it. But that’s gonna entail that work then, of being the start. And you know, it’s like you can’t just escape this and ou- completely outsource this. So I like how you put that together.
Garrett Smith: 09:48 Yeah, and even if you don’t really want to be the star. Maybe you don’t wanna be the A-lister on the magazine cover, or on TV, I still think that you’re gonna have to play a role. It’s very difficult, when you’re a subject matter expert, to outsource all of that to another professional. I mean, it’d be the same thing with me, there’s a reason that I’m sitting here doing a podcast, not outsourcing it to somebody else, that could perhaps take what I, I know, and maybe talk about it. And so the same thing here is you gotta … if you really wanna be effective with social media, you’re gonna have to care out that time.
Garrett Smith: 10:19 And if you wanna really be the star, it may be, you know five to eight hours a week. If you just kinda want to be participating and and have some level of success, you may still need to spend an hour or two. So, so I wanna set that expectation right up front, that success on social media isn’t an overnight thing. It’s … you’re not gonna go viral, you know it’s gonna take time and you’re really gonna have to commit to to being, social, putting yourself out there, and if you don’t do those things, you’re probably gonna be frustrated or disappointed with where social media takes you.
Garrett Smith: 10:54 Pro tip number two. The hardest part of social media for most practices is the social part. In order to be successful, you need to be willing to put yourself out there, to become the star and peel back the curtain on your practice and life.
Don Lee: 11:11 All right Garrett, so you laid out there in the last segment, towards the end, a little bit about how much time somebody might have to put into this. Can you elaborate on like what are the things that are actually going to do during that time to be successful?
Garrett Smith: 11:23 Yeah, absolutely. Well, first and foremost, I-I can’t reiterate enough that you need to be authentic and personal. Patients really wanna see you and wanna get to know you. And that’s, you know from a marketing, from a conceptual marketing piece, that’s the great part about social media, is a lot of patients are nervous, they have fears, concerns, perhaps they’ve had bad interactions with other practitioners, and so they may have their guard up when they’re first introduced to you and your practice. And so through social media you can kind of, break down some of those walls with patients, and and make yourself more familiar with them, right? And I think that that, that makes them a little bit uh, more likely to wanna engage with you or come in and see you for a consultation or an appointment.
Garrett Smith: 12:03 Once you’re comfortable with that concept and you, and you really feel like you can commit to that, I think that a great way to start with social media is actually to start participating in conversations and respond to comments that have already been left by patients on your profiles. I think it’s much easier to participate in a conversation on a social network, than it is to start one that has, uh any legs, at least when you’re first beginning. And so, I always recommend that practitioners and practices don’t just think about this idea of pushing out posts and videos and images. But they think about participating in conversations, and responding to people and treating it a bit like a, a networking event in real life.
Garrett Smith: 12:43 From there, I think the most, the practices that are most successful with social media tend to be providing fun or interesting information. Clinical studies, journal articles, those are nice for your peers, but they go over the head of patients. The average reading level o-online is I think like eighth or ninth grade. And so, uh, obviously, you know clinical studies and journal articles are way over peoples head. You know the average person who’s online, the average patient who’s coming in. And so, on top of that I think you don’t wanna just talk about yourself and your practice. That gets a little bit old. Yes, patients do wanna hear from you, yes they do wanna see you, but it’s also okay to share news from your local community. Talk about sports teams. Share articles that you found that … on trusted websites, or even other practices, is okay.
Garrett Smith: 13:28 You know, further, post reviews that patients have left for you online. You know, take pictures of them when when they’re in your office. Even show before and afters of your great work. Again, it is okay to brag a little, but just don’t do it all the time. And you know, lastly, one mistake that I see, is practices and practitioners make, is make sure not to mix your personal and professional accounts. I really recommend that you keep them separate. And if and whenever possible, because really your personal accounts don’t have the same tools, they don’t have the same tracking. They may have a slightly different audience. And so, they also work differently i-in certain, on certain social networks.
Garrett Smith: 14:02 And so, you know, really, I-I think at the end of this, if you wanna be successful, you gotta be authentic and personal. You gotta be willing to share fun and interesting things. You wanna talk about your self a-and post great reviews and before and afters, but wanna, also wanna share topics and localized news that may be relevant to your patient community. Share things from other trusted websites. And, and really at the end of the day, realize that there is a difference between your personal Facebook profile and your business profile. And use them accordingly.
Don Lee: 14:31 Hey that all makes sense, Garrett. What I’m wondering about when I’m hearing you talk, a-and I’ve heard this from practitioners and doctors, ou- you know outside of here. That there’s a little bit of apprehension around that interaction with the patients online. What can I say, what can I not say? This is, all this stuff’s being recorded, I need to be careful. HIPPA, not giving medical advice. How do I do this but stay safe and protect myself?
Garrett Smith: 14:56 Yeah, I think that’s a good question and I do think that that is a valid concern. Although, I don’t think that patients are going online to seek out fights with practitioners. I actually think that patients are very frustrated when they go online, because they don’t know who to trust. And given your position and your certifications, it’s actually a relief when a lot of them see doctors and physicians, and dermatologists or dentists, participating in these conversations and sort of setting the record straight.
Garrett Smith: 15:29 Now, obviously you have to be careful about things like HIPPA, giving actual medical advice, you have to be careful, just like you’d be responding to positive or negative reviews, as to how much you reveal uh, if you ah, happen to know that patient, or they’re under your care. But in general, I say, don’t say anything online on social media that you wouldn’t say at the dinner table with your family. All right, so if you got your kids or your nephews, or your nieces around the table at Thanksgiving, things may get a little bit heated here and there, but I don’t think anyone’s ever going to disparage one another, yell, curse, or offer up information that is misleading or could potentially lead to any litigation.
Garrett Smith: 16:07 And so, I think we all know what that is without giving specific examples. And again, I say, act as if you’re sitting at the dinner table with your kids, or your extended family, and so, you know, you gotta have a, a level of social couth so to speak when it comes to this. But, for 99.9 percent of the practices and practitioners out there, that are listening to this, and even if they’re not listening to this, I don’t think you have anything to really worry about when it comes to responding. You know well enough what’s acceptable, or what’s going to eventually blow up in your face.
Garrett Smith: 16:43 Pro tip number three. Your practice can be successful with social media if you’re willing to be open and put in the time to contribute fun, interesting, and unique information. It won’t happen overnight, but over time, you can use social media to build awareness and grow your practice.
Don Lee: 17:03 All right, Garrett, that’s number ten in the books here. We’ve got a couple left in the first series. What’s coming up in episode number 11?
Garrett Smith: 17:09 On the next episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, we will discuss how you can advertise your practice online. See ya next time.
Speaker 3: 17:17 Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast. With Garrett Smith and Don Lee. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a review and subscribe. And for more great content and to stay up to date, visit InboundMD.com/podcast. We’ll catch ya next time.
Garrett Smith: 17:35 Hey everyone, Garrett here, for more information about engaging with patents on social media, check out chapter nine in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Health Care Practices. Available at HealthcareMarketingBook.com.