I am happy to introduce this post by guest blogger, Tom Rosenberger. Tom is the Vice President of Communications for the Mayfield Clinic. The Mayfield Clinic boasts an award winning web site and a strong social media presence.
Is your spine center anti-social? Of course not. But in today’s ever-changing digital world, not jumping into the social media scene may have a very real, and not necessarily positive, impact on your market presence.
The benefits of being online far outweigh the risks of being left out. A spine center with 500-700 Facebook followers can reach over 300,000 people or more through sharing and re-posting of relevant, interesting content. Your current patient base is most likely loaded with satisfied customers who would happily share their experiences with others. There are dozens of different forms of social media, and while it is impossible to manage a presence in all of them, it is possible to manage a presence on some of the most prevalent social media platforms.
Here are a few basic guidelines to help you get social:
1) Make social media an important part of your overall market strategy.
Social media can have a real impact on your marketing, so don’t give the responsibility of planning and managing it to a staff person who has no interest or knowledge of how social media works. Invest in staff who have been trained, are experienced, and are current users of social media. Provide continuing education opportunities to keep them informed of trends and changes.
2) Establish goals and measures for your social media activity so that you can demonstrate success or justify greater expenditures.
Basic measurement includes growth in volume of “friends,” “followers,” or “views,” but social media done right can provide so much more. Volume of requests for a free pamphlet, exercise guide, event registrations, and even new patient volume can be part of your social media measures. Build these measures into regular reporting so that management and the board can see the increased growth, exposure, and impact.
3) Know your audience.
Identify your potential target audience and write to that audience. If your key audience is female healthcare decision-makers, ages 25-50, keep this in mind when brainstorming content ideas or angles.
4) Watch for news posts and current events and provide additional content that relates to your spine center.
Provide content that is current, relevant, and a good information resource. Be careful not to oversell or over-solicit services. Use patient or physician testimonials to validate your claims and data. Link to pages on your web site that relate to the subject. Links to other resources are also helpful.
5) Monitor comments and other feedback.
Social media is just that—social. Two-way communication is part of the deal, so it is important to monitor comments to posts and respond when appropriate. Nothing can shake the confidence of a potential customer more than a negative comment, so respond to those posts in a positive, supportive, and diplomatic way, without airing any dirty laundry online. If possible, move the conversation to a more personal level (a phone call or face-to-face meeting).
At the Mayfield Clinic, a large neurosurgery practice in Cincinnati with a dominant presence in spine surgery, we have established a healthy and steadily growing following on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. We post regularly on each, coordinating our content among the various social media platforms we employ. Content comes from traditional media releases, news items, patient education, patient stories (text and video), and our blog, e-newsletter, and web site. Webinars are another digital forum that is gaining momentum, and we have several planned for later this year.
Each medium uses information differently, but the key messages should not change. For that reason, although anyone in our organization can provide content suggestions, our social media editors are solely responsible for the actual posts and tweets. As a result, our key constituents are growing in number and responding in a very favorable way.
If your spine center is already involved in social media, please share your secrets and successes. What works really well in your digital social scene?