As few as eight years ago, that question would have been as puzzling to teenagers as to their parents. But that was then, and this is now. The fact is, social media is one of the most powerful, effective—and cost-effective—tools available today for promoting your business, reaching out to new clients and keeping current clients interested, engaged and informed.
In short, social media does everything traditional advertising used to do, only better. It has the potential for precision-tailored marketing that's both personable and brand-specific, coupled with an immediacy and relevancy that appeals to today's tech-savvy clientele.
And that clientele is growing. A survey released in January by PwC, for instance, found 59 percent of respondents expect mobile technologies "to significantly change" how they get health information over the next three years, 49 percent in managing overall health needs, and 48 percent in communicating with providers.
But there's a catch: Social media marketing is time-consuming, and if done poorly it can be as bland as a batch of uncooked dough.
Here are three tips for using social media with confidence, style and brand-building personality:
1. Tailor your strategic marketing plan and keep to your goals.
Every social media platform has its own character and appeals to a distinct audience. People use Facebook for different reasons than they use LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube, for instance, and sign on to those sites with specific expectations.
Devise a strategic plan that's platform-specific and decide when and how often you want to post, tweet, or upload a podcast or video. Once you've a schedule, stick to it. If you're floundering or feeling overwhelmed, ask a professional for help. Yes, there's a cost involved, but the payoff (think ROI) will make it worth your while.
An editorial calendar that tracks what to post, when to post, the form (blogs, videos, white papers, etc.), on which platform—and allows for revisions—could aid you greatly here.
2. Choose your social media platforms.
Better to have a clear, decisive and consistent voice on a few platforms, than to have a mediocre presence that shouts disinterest on every one of them.
Would you buy online from a company that claimed to stock exactly the item you wanted, but gave no description, photo or delivery date? Of course not. Well, the same is true for healthcare professionals. You may say you're the best around, but if your Facebook or Google+ site doesn’t even list patient testimonials, then it's your word against the online world. And that's a big place.
3. Be relevant and informative, and engage, engage, engage.
If you, or a staff member, read an article that made you say, "wow, that's helpful," post it on your social media sites, with links back to your webpage. Others probably would appreciate the news, too.
Upload videos of your practice, and those of colleagues who complement your practice, like specialists you turn to for referrals, or generalists in related fields. Dental and physical health march step-in-step.
Set up simple promotions, like inviting viewers to guess how often they should change their toothbrush. Then offer the winner, say, a gift card or free checkup. Sponsor a local softball team, and post updates of its progress. Use photos, graphics and cartoons to catch and keep interest, and remember to ask for feedback—those click-throughs, "likes" and followers that algorithms read and use to raise your practice's search-engine ranking.
So, have you tweeted today?
Are you interested in making social media work for you? Contact us today!
Posted by Grace M. Frank
Grace M Frank is a freelance writer and editor, and the owner of Frank Communications, www.frank-comm.com.