With upwards of 80 million active monthly visitors in the US, Twitter is second only to Facebook, and it’s about the only microblogging site you need in your social media plan. Surprisingly, there are dozens of other similar platforms—better than 100 around the globe—but few people can name more than one or two. As a practical matter, Twitter is the main player for healthcare marketing, and engaging and attracting potential new patients.
Regardless of your profession or location, it’s likely that you are a Twitter user, and there’s an even stronger likelihood that there’s a large percentage of Twitter-connected prospective consumers within your digital-social sphere of influence. Unless you’ve just emerged from a decade-long cryosleep, the introductory overview may be familiar to you.
Microblogging is a condensed-message format allowing a limited number of characters to be broadcast to fellow users on a public or private feed in real time. Twitter allows up to 140 characters and accommodates text, photos, graphics and video “Tweets.” Users only see the messages of people they “follow.” Anyone can follow anyone, unless blocked by the originator. Anyone can unfollow anyone at any time.
Twitter Particulars: Social strengths include immediacy, simplicity, and a large audience. Twitter users most often post personal, work or life-related updates, send direct messages and share photos, videos or re-tweet messages.
- 88 percent of Twitter users use a mobile device
- More than 20 percent of smartphone owners are Twitter users
- About 500 million tweets per day are streaming constantly
- Most “everyday” Twitter users have less than 100 followers
- Better than 15 percent of online adults use Twitter and 8 percent do so on a typical day
- Twitter tends to have its strongest appeal among the 18-29 year-old age group
- Statistically, a typical user is female, Hispanic, 20-something and urban
- 30 percent of online adults under 50 use Twitter
- The 55-64 year old age group is the fastest growing demographic segment
- Urban area residents are more likely to use Twitter than rural residents
- Twitter’s Vine feature easily integrates brief (6 second) video snippets for sharing
- The inclusion of hashtags [#] provides a topical indexing and retrieval system
Using Twitter Effectively…
Although there is no universal scheme or stand-alone tactic for social media, Twitter is a widely used platform that excels at attracting a closely connected group of followers who are united by a common area of interest.
- The essential element for successfully reaching, attracting and engaging this audience—and ultimately growing your cash healthcare business—is in listening to and interacting with those topics of mutual awareness or interest.
- The limited character allowance in microblogging, as well as its rapid pace, makes Twitter a useful catalyst for real time engagement, especially when used in concert with other online and traditional marketing tools.
- As with every other marketing strategy or tactic in your plan, begin with clear objectives and a realistic plan to achieve your defined goals.
- Back your plan with sufficient resources—including both time and money—and a willingness to sustain your social media effort consistently for an extended period of time. Twitter itself is free, (outside of paid advertising options), but anticipate an investment to start and sustain the effort.
- The objective is to “tell, not sell.” Content should deliver value, inform, educate and/or raise awareness. Provide attention getting, interesting and highly shareable content.
- Be a person (with a good photo), and not a generic account. Carefully present a Twitter profile and content that reflects an authoritative and personable author and shows a willingness to foster a community.
- Interact often with the online community. In addition to originating content, offer comments, reply to others, re-tweet good material, send direct messages (when appropriate), and energetically participate in the conversation.
- Judiciously focus your audience. Define meaningful subject matter and follow recognized thought leaders that relate to your purpose and goals. A smaller number of influential people is far more valuable than a large number of “anyone/anywhere.” What’s more, listen to these individuals for timely topics and trends. Twitter makes recommendations based on your profile and activity.
- Promote your Twitter address and visibility via your various Internet faces, among professional colleagues and among those patient groups and audiences where common interest is likely.
The primary objective is to build relationships among individuals who share a common interest. Relationships take time to nurture. While Twitter is an excellent communications tool, don’t expect meaningful results overnight.
It’s important to recognize that the consumer public is Internet- and social media-savvy. Many, if not most patients and prospective patients are already using Twitter and other platforms in healthcare decision process…and they expect to find doctors equally savvy and part of the social conversation.