This is the second article of three on social media for healthcare professionals. Read my first article here: Social Media and Healthcare: 5 Myths and Facts About Building a Private Practice.
In my first blog in this series of three on social media, I discussed some of the myths and facts about social media. In this blog I take you through the steps you need to consider to start your social media strategy for your healthcare business.
Social media, like any aspect of marketing for your healthcare business, needs to be part of a marketing plan. Without a plan on social media, you’ll find yourself drifting at sea- minutes turn into hours and you suddenly can’t account for the morning that’s disappeared and your to-do list that is still just as long.
When used effectively, social media can be an important part of building relationships with other clinicians, patients and clients. It’s also effective in the sharing of information related to your professional development and helps you stay abreast of developments in your field. It can also open the door to new business opportunities with other clinicians and practitioners.
So how do you get started?
Develop social media healthcare goals
Without a goal, like most things in life, you won’t get anywhere fast. Before you even start posting, tweeting or sharing, take some time to consider what your goals are for your social media activity.
Here’s some suggestions to get you thinking:
- to connect with new markets of clients and patients
- to curate valuable information from others and share with your followers
- to build a community of like-minded people around your area of expertise
- to broadcast your own original content to increase your perceived authority
- to build relationships with other practitioners and clinicians in your field
- to share clinical resources and information with other healthcare professionals
- to drive traffic to your website or blog
- to increase the number of subscribers to your newsletter for email marketing
- to have people share your articles and blogs
- to reach new populations to fill your groups, retreats or workshops
Any of those grab you?
You might want to consider one or two of these to start with. Or perhaps there are multiple goals you’re wanting from your social media efforts. Whatever the case, write them down and keep them handy.
Your goals will be informing your participation on social media, so you don’t want to lose your focus.
Break down the steps you need to take to meet those social media healthcare goals
The next step I encourage you to do is to then break down the bigger goal into smaller steps. This process of breaking down your goals will move you closer to the actual nuts-and-bolts of what you will be doing on social media.
For example, let’s say I want to curate valuable content from others to share with my followers and build my community.
Here’s some of the smaller steps I need to take:
- Follow other blogs in my niche via email or RSS
- Set up Google alerts for keywords in my niche
- Follow related companies on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
- Set up a folder or Word document where I can start to collate all my links to related content
- Decide on which social media accounts to use and decide how frequently to post
- Start posting updates and and writing blogs according to answer to #5
- Track engagement and statistics (more about this in the third part of this series)
Are you getting the hang of this?
Now breaking one of your goals into achievable steps starts to make this all look less overwhelming doesn’t it? And that’s the beauty of getting concrete about your goals. You develop a sense of accomplishment and it feels much more achievable.
Define how much time you want to commit to social media healthcare marketing
This step requires some good boundaries and will power. Social media can certainly feel like Alice in Wonderland who slides down the rabbit hole. You can get lost in your surfing and before you know it, you’ve lost hours of your time and productivity.
I’m a fan of being smart and strategic. Once you decide how much time you want to devote to each social network, I recommend you get firm in your application.
Set a countdown timer for the desired amount of time you want to spend on social media and once it goes off, you close your social media accounts. My 30-minute timer is about to go off any minute as I type this article. (I like the 30-minute strategy for writing blogs as well).
What I like about this strategy is that you can keep yourself disciplined and focused. It also encourages you to work efficiently and effectively. In my next article I’ll be covering the details of what and how to post, but to start with, just know that you’ll be giving yourself a time-frame to work within.
Implement your social media plan
So you’re clear about your goal(s) and you’ve set aside time to devote to spending on social media. What to do next?
Here’s my list of suggestions about how you can spend your time on social media:
- set up your professional social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+
- look for related business pages and subscribe on Facebook
- interact with other business pages using your business account in Facebook
- follow related business professionals who operate in your niche on Twitter
- read interesting articles and blogs in your niche
- comment on blogs by adding value and your unique perspective
- retweet interesting content on Twitter (this will be explained in my next article)
- start creating circles of related professionals on Google+
- cut and paste links to interesting blogs and articles for your curation folder (I use the Evernote clipper for Google Chrome and Evernote for this)
- join LinkedIn groups that interest you and can provide you with professional fodder
- most importantly, be social and interact and engage with other professionals
Are you getting a sense of what to do to implement your plan?
I’ll be drilling down in the next article to give you the nuts-and-bolts of how to do some of these things as well as track your statistics, but I’m hoping you’re getting a sense of what to do when you get on social media.
As with all aspects of effective marketing, the most important thing is to take action and get your social media healthcare marketing underway. You can always review, tweak and improve your strategy as your social media presence develops.
What’s your experience of using social media healthcare marketing? Leave your comments in the box below.
Missed part 1 of this series? If so, you can catch it here: Social Media and Healthcare: 5 Myths and Facts About Building a Private Practice.
chalk board photo by Mykl Roventine via Flickr.com
stairs photo by Mollenborg via Flickr.com