It’s highly likely that a good amount of your patients utilize social media on a regular basis. This means that they’re actively Tweeting, liking, and sharing several posts per day, and looking to interact with businesses the same way they do with friends.
This poses a unique opportunity for doctors to develop a lasting relationship with patients through effective social media communication. How do you do that? Here are some tips on building a good relationship with clients online.
Use Common Terms
Patients aren’t healthcare professionals; that’s why they look to you for help. When communicating with them on social media, use common terms that they would use. For instance, you wouldn’t ask a patient if they were experiencing “lumbago”, but instead, you would simply say lower back pain. Keep the conversation simple like you would if you were face-to- face with the client.
People want to know that they’re communicating with a human and not a robot. This is where showing some emotion on social media can help you stand apart from other practices who never interact with their followers. An emotional post doesn’t have to be deeply personal, but something that says “Hey, I’m just like everyone else”.
Tell followers you just spilled your coffee all over the new office iPads, and that you’re scared to death to find out how much damage you caused. Add a picture of the iPads and spilled coffee, with a hashtag. A simple emotional post like that can help build rapport and loyalty with current patients and attract new ones.
Being helpful on social media shows great customer service and solidifies your practice as a resource for reliable information. Refer patients to websites that could further answer their questions, or invite them for a private online chat.
Sometimes a patient may have a question about the definition of a medical term, or may need more personal attention that requires a phone call. Set aside time to spend online specifically to address questions and concerns that your patients have. It’s best if you use the same time each day so that clients will know when to expect you to be available.
Hashtags make it easy for your content to be found with a simple search. The problem is making sure to use the hashtags that your patients would normally use. This can take some time, as you’ll need to research your target audience and learn to speak their language. Once you’re familiar with how they communicate with hashtags, you’ll be able to tag your content and get it found easily by the audience that you want to attract.
Share Curated Content
Communicating effectively with patients via social media doesn’t always mean sharing original content. It’s good to share useful content from other sources as well. This is an overall good practice, as it shows that self-promotion is not your only goal, but that you’re genuinely interested in disseminating good information from a variety of sources, all for the benefit of the reader.
This process is called content curation, and it’s not a difficult process. You could spend an hour or so and find helpful material that you want to share with your followers, and load it up into an automated social media program.
Host Social Media Chats
Hold a special time where patients can tune in to learn about a specific subject directly from you. This could be anything related to your specialty, and doesn’t have to be terribly complicated. If you run a pain management center, you could prepare a small presentation on how to cope with pain in between clinic visits, and present it on social media. Patients would be able to ask questions and learn more about a subject that affects them personally.
Social chats and presentations allows you to speak to clients on a personal level without being face to face in the office. Patients who are interested or dealing with a related issue can tune in and get answers that they would normally have to visit the clinic to receive. This type of communication can definitely position you as a leader in your field.
Spend Time Online Everyday
Building a healthy relationship with patients online means that you’re there every day, answering questions and just engaging in a basic level. This can be time consuming but it’s necessary to help brand your practice and build loyalty within your patient community. Plan to spend about an hour each day responding to inquiries and just being social on each of your channels. If you can’t fit this into your schedule, task an employee to do it, or hire an agency. The main goal is to be present online every day.
It’s also a good idea to continue conversation on social media in the actual office. For example, if you’re chatting online with a client about the benefits of alternative pain medicines, continue that conversation with the patient on their next visit. This shows that you were actually the one talking with them and not a staffer, and that you have a genuine interest in their health.
Of course, if a staff member or contractor did in fact have that conversation with the patient, you could have them keep notes on all communications so that you can refer back to them during the visit.
When used properly, social media can be a highly effective way to reach out to patients and engage with them on their playing field. The key to getting this right is to be authentic and have a genuine desire to help your clients. If you do this, you can’t help but attract new patients, as people will willingly share the useful information they learned from the “good doctor.”
In a sense effective communication with patients via social media is not just about building a good rapport with current clients, but solidifying your place as a reliable source of healthcare information for future patients.
If you need a comprehensive and effective social media marketing strategy to attract and keep more patients, we can bring your practice to the next level. Call my team, invigoMEDIA at 1-844-ROI-GUYS.