By BETH RUDLOFF, MedSpeaks, Healthcare Executive in Residence and COO Emeritus of UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health
Editor's note: For 2017, we are excited to introduce a new section to Orlando Medical News called Medical Marketing and Social Media. This is an important topic for your practice because social marketing has proved its sustainability and value. In fact, today it is a necessary element to your overall growth strategy. What was previously regarded as hype or a passing fad has ultimately yielded a variety of social platforms, analytics, content, and emerging influencers. For this year, however, it's time to dig into your marketing plan and understand the best, most effective, yet efficient means of incorporating personalized content that ultimately engages the hearts of consumers and builds a relationship with you, your brand. The benefits of having your expertise and wisdom being discoverable will tell the story of who you are amongst a crowd of many eager to grow their practice and reputation. This section is dedicated to cut through the clutter of information and get down to brass tacks with tips, trends, and practical examples you can understand and implement. If you have specific questions you'd like answered, please send your questions to email@example.com.
You are so busy trying to keep your emails under control in your inbox, you may think you just don't have time for social media. But if one of your resolutions for the New Year is to grow your practice, you need to know how social media can help you achieve your goals.
Omar Khateeb, strategic director of marketing at MedTech Momentum, is on the cutting edge of medical marketing and has these words of advice based on a 2013 Google study, "Not surprisingly, the conclusion was that prospective patients say digital (marketing) matters. This study was divided into three key areas that define the path: Search, Mobile and Video." Khateeb explains "the market is forcing to evolve. Physicians are seeing that competitors who are not nearly as experienced, talented, or even qualified are getting the business because they adopted marketing practices of 2016. With the internet and companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, everyone is conditioned to expect that same kind of marketing to engage with."
Think about how you shop for services you are unfamiliar with - maybe contracting for home improvement, for example. Most likely you will start with asking your friends for referrals, but then you will go to the web to research them - how did they rate on Angie's list? Do they have a website with examples of their work? What does the Better Business Bureau say about them?
Patients will do (and are doing) the same thing, or even bypass their friend's referral and go straight to a web search. They look you up on rating websites like HealthGrades, look for your website, compare you with other physicians in your specialty, and ultimately form an opinion of you before they call your office for an appointment. Omar explains, "The internet has now eliminated borders to your business, so you're not just competing with physicians domestically but internationally. Patients need to understand why they should see you."
How do you begin to develop your social media marketing strategy or evaluate the one you already have?
- First, Google yourself. You might be surprised at what comes up. I was surprised to find that a quote I made in 1994 for the LA Times was still on the web. Your reputation is on the line, so also try searching by your specialty to see who you are competing against. You may even want to ask your new patients how they found you and what they searched for if they used the web.
- Secondly, determine what you want people to see when they search for you. As Omar states, "Many things have changed over the past thousands of years, but our brains still function the same way. Data doesn't resonate with us, stories do. Stories are what communicate 'people like us when we do things like this'. When you tell the right story to the right person, something happens and it is told again to others. Helping patients find the story that resonates with them is what ultimately drives the actions that turn into a conversion, a client." Is what you are seeing when you search for yourself consistent with what you want to portray? Or, is your message different than how you really are because you have used a generic, pre-packaged marketing tool or website developer? Or, are there negative reviews on ratings sites that are concerning? When determining what story you want to have on the web, Omar suggests you look back into why you went into medicine in the first place, and what made your decision to choose your specialty. Perhaps, ask yourself who were your favorite patients and why?
- Thirdly, if you find that you need to develop a social media strategy, or revise the way you are currently portrayed on-line, here are the main areas to focus on for success according to Omar:
- emotionally compelling offline media
- search engine optimization (SEO) blogs and websites
- engaging social media and referral marketing
- cost-effective paid advertising
- mobile marketing for doctors
- video marketing
What should you avoid with your social media strategy? Looking at short-term gains but not the long-term consequences. Developing your online story is a strategy that will take work and needs to be consistent across all platforms. As Omar says, "Experimenting is one thing, but selfish, sloppy tactics will often fail and tarnish your brand."
Also, "don't do it by yourself," advises Omar. "It's worth the investment to have someone either advise you, manage marketing for you, or be involved in some capacity. The greatest people in the world, high achieving people, all had a coach. I'm a marketer, and even I utilize other marketers. Take a true entrepreneur's approach and hire people to help you in places where you're not focused. Focus on being the greatest physician you can be, not a good one who's also good at business."