social mediaFor many healthcare practices, the popular and easy-to-use social media platforms are standard marketing tools. Professionally and personally, it seems like everyone “does Facebook” or follows Twitter. In this guest post, Mickey Kennedy observes how “easy-to-use” can mean “easy-to-make-mistakes” in social media.

Healthcare providers—individual practices, medical groups, hospitals and others—are critically aware that prospective patients usually begin their journey by looking online. And successful practices are there to greet them with helpful and informative information, often via social media. With connected visitors, social media fosters trust, inspires a relationship and extends the professional reputation.

But the mistaken belief that “anyone can do it” can also lead to mistakes. Don’t allow a “take it for granted” attitude, and identify these common-but-avoidable marketing mistakes:

  1. Failure to train the entire staff. Creating and maintaining an online presence pays dividends, but social media for a business is different than “what everyone knows” from their own personal accounts. Most importantly, it’s vital to have a social media policy in place and to train to and observe HIPAA requirements.
  2. Failure to post and share quality information. Your social media presence is an important face of your practice to the world. Make sure that you post verified and accurate content. Gaining and keeping the trust of your followers and fans, who are also patients and colleagues, is of the utmost importance. What’s more, authoritative content is an important search engine consideration.
  3. Offering free advice. Online questions about medical conditions or care require special attention and handling, and “free advice” answers via social media can be problematic.
  4. Failure to post regularly. The typical consumer is bombarded by thousands of media messages daily, and regular postings of fresh and interesting material fosters good relationships. (It also helps visibility in search rankings.) Maintain and follow a social media content calendar.
  5. Being serious all the time. Health care issues are often serious, but there are times and topics that can be treated in a conversational, light-hearted manner.
  6. “Friending” your patients. In Facebook terms, a business page is best suited for a professional presence and a relationship with the practice.
  7. Not completing your profile. Don’t overlook the “About” section on social media and use it to describe credentials, capabilities and services. Make sure that information is correct across all pages.

Social media can be an effective marketing tool to distinguish your practice from the competition. A strong online presence can foster new patient relationships, enhance professional reputation and inspire referrals.

Got some more tips for healthcare providers and social media? Chat us up in the comments.

Mickie E. Kennedy

About the author: Mickie E. Kennedy is founder of eReleases, and author of numerous ebooks and papers about publicity and public relations best practices.


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