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Social Media Marketing for Clinics

by on September 13, 2011

Question:
Our management team has been discussing whether social media marketing can be beneficial to our medical practice. Can a social media campaign attract new patients?

Answer:
There are an increasing number of medical clinics successfully using social media to grow and strengthen their relationships with patients. Below, I summarize approaches and results from a national and two local clinics.

Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic employees were reviewing survey answers that asked patients what sources most influenced their brand preferences, the answers were word of mouth (84%) and stories in the media (57%). After considering how to leverage these results, they decided to use social media platforms to leverage the mass media, and the reverse.

An approach that local clinics can also use, Mayo Clinic started a social media campaign using cheap technologies: audio recordings (MP3 podcasts), Facebook posts and YouTube patient interviews with a Flip video camara. Later, CBS radio and the Wall Street Journal Health Blog covered Mayo Clinic based on their social media content. From these early successes, Mayo Clinic’s management expanded their social media programs.

Plastic Surgery Clinic
A plastic surgeon in Tennessee, Dr. Reath, discovered that Facebook, a blog, contests, and an ebook were effective parts for their social media marketing:

We made our share of mistakes at first, but things started to click when we learned that our marketing should focus on being authentically helpful instead of the traditional sales-orientation. We’re doing this by providing targeted patient education in a fun way using new media. Our goal is to establish a relationship with patients so that when they come into our office, they feel like they already know us.

What were the plastic surgeon’s results? Their social media campaign dramatically increased traffic to their website, and resulted in new customers. Many people participating in the contests requested more information, and prize winners, coming into the clinic to collect their prize, typically bought skin care products.

Within the first month of publishing their ebook, the clinic received six new customers solely based on the digital book. In addition, patients are forwarding the ebook to interested friends and relatives.

Dental Practice
A dentist in San Francisco, according to TechCrunch, used their social media campaign to build awareness of its new practice, located in a high-rise building with hundreds of established dental practices.

The social media campaign had some early successes as current and prospective patients started posting comments on its Facebook page, and earned 70 fans. Within its first 5 months, the dentist also offered a Groupon coupon deal which attracted 320 new patients, each receiving a discounted patient exam and x-ray. A year later, this young office also now brags 275 ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page as well as many comments posted by patients.

Starting Social Media Marketing
Start your social media marketing by identifying goals: new patients, improved customer service, strengthening patient relationships or greater visibility in the community. Be sure to make your goals measurable and realistic.

Next identify which social media websites your ideal customers frequent. These social channels can vary, depending on your office location; for example, San Francisco and Denver might find Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog and patient reviews work best, while a suburban office might decide Facebook, YouTube tutorials about dental procedures and patient reviews are most effective. Patient reviews are an important component for both, since it can be a source of online referrals and improve your search engine results.

Notice that social media campaigns typically integrate multiple social channels, each leading footprints to your website. Another useful approach is integrating special events or charitable activities into your social marketing, since it shows your business contributes to the community and it attracts healthy publicity.

For more information, read about how you can exploit the social media trend in your business.

If you would like an answer to an Internet marketing question, in our Top of Your Mind section, send an email to mary@WebRankingSherpa.com, or leave your question in the comment box below.

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