I know I promised to write about products and programs today, but then someone asked me about social media marketing, so let’s go there, shall we?
Social media marketing makes sense for health care providers who want to build a local practice and provide distance services and downloadable products. (So that’s everyone…)
Let’s break down how to do social media marketing ethically and effectively.
I have a firm belief that with over 80% of consumers searching online for health care information, providers have an ethical obligation to be there. Access to social media is easy, free and simple. If your patients and clients are looking for accurate health care information online, we need to be there to provide the accurate information.
Despite the cries of the doom and gloom crowd who protest that social media will lead to medical lawsuits falling from the sky, this isn’t happening in any large numbers. The way to avoid any lawsuit action is to NEVER post anything about client issues EVER. Not even when you protect identities. Don’t diagnose in social media, offer medical advice, hypothesize about people’s issues. Simple. Let’s move on…
Keeping your information private
I know this is going to upset some people, but here it is: Anything you post online can be found. You can use all the privacy controls in the world, things slip through. Maybe not all the time, but occassionally. The best way to keep your personal life private is to not post about it online. This is the approach I take, as do most of the social media “power users” I know. They use Facebook and Twitter for business and leave it at that.
If you already have personal accounts, you can certainly put up privacy around them, but I recommend thinking twice about continuing to add pictures and information as you start to use it professionally. You can still share with family and friends via password protected blogs and personal email accounts.
What do I DO on Social Media?
Good question. First, you show up. I recommend starting with one platform at a time. Put a profile up on LinkedIn, which you will primarily use to connect with professional colleagues and then move on to Twitter or Facebook, which is where the real action is.
People generally fall into two camps: loving Twitter or loving Facebook. Few people (even the big time marketers out there) use both equally well. Personally, I’m a Twitter fan and am ambivalent about Facebook.
Twitter allows me to do several things:
- Listen to people in real time talk about their health care issues. If you go to http://Twitter.Search.com and type in a word or phrase (try anxiety, adhd, ptsd, therapy, etc.) you can see what people are saying about these issues. Why is this important? It gives you insight into what people are concerned about, looking for and working on. This information allows you to develop relevant programs, products and services that people will be willing to pay for.
- Share information relevant to your specialty area: Use Twitter and Facebook to post links to articles on topics that your ideal clients would find helpful. Summaries of current research, news pieces, well written/researched blog articles are all valuable to share with your followers. They want to see that you are up to date in your specialty and will come to see you as an expert.
- Build relationships. The “social” in social media stands for the process of building relationships with people interested in your work, regardless of geographical location. This is where many health care professionals get squeamish. They fear that clients will start asking them health questions via social media. Chances are small this will not happen. Most people understand the boundaries and will respond well to gentle redirection to pick up the phone, rather than communicate personal information via social media. Truthfully, most followers will simply read what you offer and not reply at all. Some may chime in their comments, but respect the context and format.
- Build your email marketing list. Remember that list we discussed in the previous lesson? Here’s where the social media marketing magic happens. When you have a blog post, you put it on your social media channels and people click through to read it. They will land on your blog and this increases the chance for them to sign up for your free report and blog feed. Now you have their information and can send them your newsletter, offer them opportunities to work with you and sell products. Make sense?
A brief outline of social media marketing goes like this:
Your Blog Post
->post to Twitter/Facebook
-> Followers click to learn more
->They like your ideas and think you’re helpful
-> They sign up for a free report to get more information
-> You send a newsletter with more useful stuff
-> Followers like you even more
->You offer a program/product
-> Followers buy because they now know, like and trust you.
There is so much to say about social media, that I’m brainstorming a way to get more details to you in the very near future. What will help this process is if you leave me your questions in the comments below.