[Article Series: An excerpt from a forthcoming book by Mark Tager, MD, and Stewart Gandolf, MBA, for private practice physicians and healthcare administrators about reaching, recruiting and retaining private pay and elective care patients.]
Each of the primary social media tools has a distinct personality. If Facebook is the family SUV, and Twitter is a racey sportster, LinkedIn is your business-serious Town Car. What’s more, your LinkedIn presence online—the one wearing a suit and power tie—is versatile and extremely well suited as the social tool of choice for physicians and hospital executives.
One of the longest-running social networking sites (founded 2002), LinkedIn is geared primarily to corporate brands, businesses and professionals with more than 380 million registered members in over 200 countries; approaching 120 million in the US, and 97 million unique member visitors monthly.
Incorporating LinkedIn as a key element of your social media plan provides a well-rounded (and slightly upscale) perspective on you, your business and your experience. Benefits include:
- A focal point for your business, practice, brand or special interest group
- An expertise showcase and reputation management tool
- An opportunity to listen to ideas and interests of target audiences
- Establish a direct connection with prospective patients
- Follow trends in consumer/patient conversations
- Having a stronger online presence with search engines
- Interact with professional colleagues and peers
- Participants tend to be affluent, ambitious and influential
- Participate in conversations and discussions
- Promote special interest events and activities
- Provide health-related content
- Providing the option to create a personal and/or company page
- Providing visibility among professional colleagues
LinkedIn was founded as a networking arena for business professionals. Thus it plays well for physicians and surgeons as an online curriculum vitae (CV), which, when seen by a patient, a prospective patient, or a fellow medical contemporary, validates credentials, inspires confidence and perhaps inspires professional referrals.
And in healthcare’s changing environment—where employment circumstances and market conditions are constantly shifting, LinkedIn purportedly helps enable 50 percent of the world’s hires.
Using the versatile faces of LinkedIn…
Getting started with LinkedIn is relatively easy, and basic membership is free. (There is a premium subscription option available for a fee.) There are four key opportunities to grow your LinkedIn presence.
Your INDIVIDUAL page provides space for registered users to post resume-like descriptions of personal education, employment history, professional skills and experience. Your profile page is a cornerstone for your LinkedIn presence and it’s important that it is detailed, complete and accurate. You can edit, update or extend your profile at any time, including adding photos, videos, documents and relevant links.
A COMPANY page puts the spotlight on an individual practice, business or brand. It is a forum for presenting your business story, engaging followers and opening the door for word-of-mouth referrals or recommendations.
The SHOWCASE page is a deeper dive opportunity for the company page administrator. Here’s where to tell the story of products, services or unique aspects of the company or brand.
PROFESSIONAL GROUPS are the catalyst for connectivity. For those users with similar interests or a common concern, LinkedIn groups are ideal for sharing content, finding answers or posting ideas and discussion topics. You can search among thousands of existing LinkedIn groups or you can create a new group focused on a particular topic, industry or core idea.
In addition, LinkedIn supports editorial publishing, and thus provides an open platform and opportunity to create content for, and engage with, like-minded or common interest individuals.
Getting started with LinkedIn…
For maximum impact and results, take the time to build a robust presence on LinkedIn, using as many of the options as are appropriate to your situation. Make it a habit to use LinkedIn regularly, providing pertinent updates, participate in discussions, and interacting with others in the network.
The LinkedIn Help Center provides detailed support for topics such as building your identity, growing your network and discovering career opportunities.