HOW TO: Create a "Healthy" Social Media Presence

By Megan McMahon As a healthcare provider, it's hard to deny the fact that having a social media presence is part of the norm these days. Whether you're a physician, dentist, orthodontist, chiropractor, podiatrist, or any doctor really, it's just as important to maintain a healthy social media presence as it is to tell your patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This not the easiest thing to do when you're busy with patients all day but social media can really pay off from a marketing and relationship building perspective. Here is a how-to guide of the things to focus on as a healthcare provider trying to maintain a healthy social media presence and keep healthy patients at the same time.

1. Be as transparent as possible. In the healthcare world, there are tons of rules and regulations to abide by when it comes to what you can and can't do. You should follow these rules and regs on social media too but try to be as transparent as possible. Respond to matters that you legally can on social media publicly and take matters that need to be addressed privately and deal with them offline. Transparency in any profession is important but especially in healthcare people just want to be given the right information, in person and through social media.

2. Highlight your patients. Current patients are going to be the biggest advocates. They'll be the ones that tell their friends about you and get new patients solely through word of mouth. Make current patients feel special by highlighting them on Facebook. Highlighting patients on a Facebook page will entice them to share the page with their friends and hence creating even more word of mouth for a practice. Getting current patients to follow social media efforts will be the driving force in getting new patients AND building better relationships with patients.

3. Create enticing promos for new patients. Getting new likes and followers on social assets is important but turning those fans into patients will be truly rewarding. Provide value to gain new patients by offering a special promo for Facebook fans only. Or send out a code on Twitter for followers only. This will attract new patients and once again, get current patients to share with their friends. Promotions can be as easy as sending out a special link or creating a special code to send out via Facebook, Twitter, and more.

4. Find a "voice." Determine who in the practice will be the one to maintain social media. Then, determine what the voice of the practice will be. Conversational? Educational? Entertaining? With a voice, the patients and other fans who like or follow will know exactly what to expect. When a practice bounces around between posting in different points of view or different types of content, it can become confusing and frustrating. It's crucial for doctors to figure out how they want to be perceived on social media and stick to it.

5. Keep it up! Speaking of sticking to it, one of the most common happenings with social media and healthcare providers is that the assets are not maintained and end up going black within a few months. The best way to keep up social media as a doctor or dentist is to set aside time every day (10 minutes) or every week (an hour) to take a look at what's going on. As I mentioned before, pick a point person for social media as well. When the guidelines are set for who will be doing it and when, it will be much easier to stick with it for longer.

As a doctor or dentist, how do you maintain a healthy social media presence? Patients - are your doctors and dentists on social media? How do you interact with them?