Using Social Media to Attract New Patients and Build Loyalty

Shelly Reese

Disclosures

December 27, 2017

In This Article

Like It or Not, Patients Use Social Media

You've been told that your practice is supposed to have a social media presence. But what exactly does that mean, and how can it help your practice?

People talk about social media as if it is a monolithic entity; it's anything but. Social media isn't just Facebook. It includes LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and myriad other sites and apps that collectively reach billions of people and invite their feedback.

For doctors, the medium presents an invaluable opportunity to build a brand, demonstrate their expertise, generate referrals, encourage positive reviews, and educate patients. But achieving those benefits requires clear goal setting and a strategic approach.

"If you are going to do social, you have to know what your purpose is," says Liz Neporent, Medscape's managing editor of social media. "When you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. The same is true for social."

What Can Social Media Do for You?

Even if you personally disdain social media, chances are many of your patients—and potential patients—like it. By connecting with them and with other users on social media, you can:

  • Raise awareness about your practice

  • Drive traffic to your website

  • Generate both professional and patient referrals

  • Educate patients and their friends

  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors

  • Demonstrate your expertise

  • Promote events you sponsor

  • Enhance your reputation

And the list goes on.

To achieve those goals, you can't think of social media as a stand-alone entity, insists Leslie Brooks, social media strategist for Healthcare Success in Irvine, California, but as an interlocking piece of an integrated marketing strategy.

For example, you can't think of social media as separate from referrals because every time a patient "likes" your practice, posts "I love my doctor!" or shares one of your posts with their networks, they're essentially recommending you. User likes, ratings, and reviews likewise make social media an inextricable component of reputation management.

For better or worse, "today's patient doesn't know what it is to be double board-certified. They look at what your reviews are on Yelp! and how many likes you have on Facebook," says Nina Grant, vice president of business development for Irvine, California-based Practice Builders.

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