By Brooke Strickland
By Brooke Strickland
If you thought Facebook, Twitter, or blogging was for your teenager, think again. And if you think that using social media to grow your practice isn't important, it's time you reconsider and think about the depth that social media has on reaching new patients. Social media is something you should take seriously. It has truly transformed the way the world interacts, and has become a vital part of business marketing strategies. With social media, your practice has the same amount of opportunity to increase brand exposure and build a stronger base of returning patients ñ if not more ñ than other traditional marketing methods.
Technology consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) found that the USA and Austria were in the mid-range of adopting social media tactics, while countries such as Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom were at the top of the spectrum in regards to social media presence and interaction. In the U.S., large, urban, academic, and pediatric hospitals are leading the way in social media. 42% of hospitals with 400 or more beds use social media vs. 15% of facilities with fewer than 70 beds. Compare this to Fortune 500 companies that report that 65% use Twitter, 54% use Facebook, 50% use YouTube, and 33% use corporate blogs.These numbers show that the medical community as a whole has been somewhat resistant to deploying social media strategies and are laggards in establishing a social media presence.
The hesitancy in creating social media accounts by medical service providers may not be based in reality but in the perception and fear that some content could be misconstrued or misrepresented as medical advice. Many providers feel they simply don't have the time to spend to learn and develop the knowledge base they think will be necessary to deploy a relevant and effective social media strategy. Many weigh the opportunity cost and simply deem it isn't a worthwhile capital investment for themselves or their staff. However, it is essential to get out in front of this powerful emergent paradigm shift to social media before it is too late. It may be vital to the survival and prosperity of your practice to consider these new technology modalities and understand how electronic media could add to your business. Try to think positively about how social media can be used as a tool to not only market your practice, but to build a positive brand for yourself, monitor patients, recruit quality employees, educate your patients with new healthcare trends, practices, or research, and to collaborate with other medical professionals.
Research shows that more and more patients are finding medical information through the Internet and are communicating through social media outlets about their medical conditions, pains, or other ailments. So, if you're not available through electronic media, who will they find online? A competitor. And they'll likely call that person's office, set up an appointment, and you'll have just lost a potential new patient. Having an online presence is becoming less of a want need in today's business world ñ and the medical community is no exception.
 Terry, Ken. "Many Doctors Don't Take Social Media Beyond Marketing." InformationWeek. April 10, 2012. http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/patient/232900043 Accessed May 22, 2012.