I have heard it said that social media and branding in healthcare is not important. Doctors, dentists and practitioners from all realms of this industry think that demand is going to hold steady versus their competition. “I don’t need to market myself. I already have enough clients on my calendar. There is no ROI. I don’t have the time. What about patient confidentiality? Clients will choose a doctor closest to them anyway.”, they all say. Well, I am going to challenge those thoughts. Here are some points to consider for all you skeptics:
1. I DON’T NEED TO MARKET MYSELF
Potential patients can research everything before ever stepping foot in the door. When they need a medical service or provider, patients are searching Google, reading information and making decisions based on who provides the most convincing case for their needs. This might include a doctor’s insight into a new procedure, client testimonials, look and feel of your office settings, range of services provided, or a mixture of all of these elements. Potential clients will go where they feel the most comfortable. Oftentimes this is not the doctor just minutes away!
2. I DON’T HAVE TIME
If you are not taking the time to reach these clients through your website or marketing strategies (including social media), then your competitors are. In our newly visual and informational world, you are either engaging with your existing/potential clients or you are losing these to others in your field that understand the importance of communication and information transfers in this era of client empowerment. There are many ways to work social media into your practice, whether through the use of internal training, on-site consulting or outsourcing this to a third party.
3. CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY
Patients should always be given a choice on whether or not they would like their images and/or comments posted in your communications. I have found that most clients are happy to be part of your efforts. More often than not, people want to share their good experiences, as is validates their choice. It is as simple as telling them what your are doing (video, text, photo, etc.) and asking them to sign a disclaimer to protect you from any legal implications. Done deal.
Return on Investment (ROI) is always a huge barrier to my clients embracing social media. Social media is an extension of your marketing objectives and is a tactic to help you achieve these. First, you have to know what it is your are trying to measure. Only once you have established a clear objective can you quantify the return. Here is an example: “We need a Facebook page” and “We need to learn more about our customers through our Facebook page.”. This ROI measurement is not monetary, but it is as important as others from a client service perspective. From a monetary standpoint, it is a matter of setting up metrics that can capture the monetary value of social media. Think promotional campaigns on Facebook, informational video clicks resulting in new business, or website visits from Twitter that bring clients to your front door. It all depends on YOUR objectives.
Let me finish with some great statistics I have recently seen on http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/, which is a site dedicated to providing both practitioners and patients an outlet and voice in the healthcare community.
- 80% of Internet users search for health information online
- 44% research doctors online
- 43% ask questions in online forums
- 45% ask questions to be better prepared for a physician visit
- 13 minutes: Average duration of a physician visit
With all of that potential, what are healthcare providers and physicians waiting for?