While many nurse practitioners are already on social media not everyone considers using it for business. And that’s a mistake. If you are not marketing your practice or business online, you are missing out.
Socializing and marketing really are two different things. While that cute puppy video pulls at your heart, it may not be the message you want to share with your patients.
Deciding the who, what, when, where is as important as that all too important first impression. We’ll talk more about what to share a bit later.
Let’s look at this in a strategic way. You do not have all the time in the world to try out every network for size. Your social media marketing campaign needs to produce measurable results.
Getting started isn’t something you should worry unduly about. There are six criteria you can use to help form a coherent marketing strategy.
Trying to figure out which network to join remind me of the ad I’ve seen running lately where someone is ordering absolutely everything on the menu.
In this case will you have Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest or SnapChat? What about the new items on the menu…Periscope and Blab?
Deciding what network to join is going to be influenced by where your patients and clients hangout. This is where you’ll need to do a bit of homework.
For example, unless you are catering to a professional bunch, LinkedIn may not be the best place to connect with your potential patients.
If you already have patients and clients, start to survey them (informally or formally about their social media habits. If you don’t want to ask them outright, let them know you are going to be sending out health messages and which platforms would they be most likely to see them.
Who is going to post?
Chances are, when you start out, you are going to be doing most of the posting yourself. However you are busy and sooner or later you may need some help. This is something you’ll be able to pass on to the right assistant or find someone to outsource it to.
A word of caution, you’ll want to educate them well on how you are using social media, the content you are posting and the like. Monitor them closely in the beginning and then periodically later on. It’s important that the “voice” and personality be consistent with your and your business.
Using social media tools to help schedule content helps you keep your time in check. Check out Buffer and Hootsuite. Both of these are quite helpful and are free (though like most things, you can upgrade to paid version for more functionality).
Research and Plan
It’s funny, but sometimes what we think our patients and clients want from us and what they actually want from us can be miles apart. Do your homework. It’s not difficult, listen to what your patients and clients are asking you. What are their biggest challenges and fears.
The biggest strength that we as NPs have is listening. Just listen to your patients, and give them the information they are seeking.
Always, always monitor your analytics to both help create more of the content that gets most engagement and to look out for trends your business should follow.
Advertising: Paid or Free?
Most of us start using Facebook or other platforms and just share our content (photos, sayings, health updates, our own posts and pertinent news) with our friends and followers.
However to get the maximum reach, you’ll likely get involved with “boosting” your post on the various platforms. In other words, you’ll pay to reach a new audience.
Understanding how it works can offer some very inexpensive marketing opportunities, as social media advertising is the most cost-effective there is at the moment, compared to search engine pay-per-click (PPC). This is such an important topic when it comes to marketing…watch for future content on this.
In the meantime, visit Amy Porterfield to learn about ads on Facebook.
Negativity & Trolls
Unfortunately, being on the other side of an anonymous void, armed with a keyboard can make some people feel they can do and say what they want with some degree of anonymity.
This is actually a myth thanks to the many different social search tools and aggregators online. Don’t feed the trolls*. Remain calm and make use of the immediacy of social media to offer customer service in a timely and polite manner.
You may never appease the originator of any negative comments, but the world that watches may be impressed enough by your attitude that they will choose to do business with you in the future.
*Note: Psychology Today recently discussed a study that showed that “Internet trolls are horrible people”. Read the article:“Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths and Sadists”.
There’s little point in growing a large list of fans or followers unless you leverage it by engaging your followers and encouraging them to share your content.
Create some fun around your business brand; offer health quizzes, photo ops, competitions, fill-in-the-blank slogans – anything that surprises your fans with an engaging activity.
Even companies that sell washing powder have done this by sharing specific tips on how to best use it for certain stains. Certinly healthcare providers can do the same.
One More Thing!
I recommend you look closely at the material you plan to post to social media. You’ll want to make sure it meets your standards for both privacy as well as the quality of the information you are sharing.
It’s important that you and your practice have a solid social media policy that all staff follow. Clinicians have found themselves in deep water by not paying attention to these details.
More on this very topic coming up soon…it does deserve a post all by itself!
What social media platforms are you using and how are you marketing your business or practice?