Five great ways to win the online popularity contest
I’m a licensed health care professional who for years adamantly opposed using social media as a health care business marketing vehicle. Social media marketing in the health care business world was, in my stubborn opinion, raised HIPPA regulations and professional due diligence issues – not to mention posing a possible breach of client and provider boundaries.
Then one day, firmly rooted in this position, these statistics crossed my radar: 750 million active users are now on Facebook; over 200 million active users are on Twitter; and more than 120 million active users use LinkedIn – and those numbers grow daily.
That’s a huge audience. Could I afford, as a business owner, to refuse to join this bandwagon? I elected to consult a social media expert to sort out my questions and to determine whether social media is a viable health care business-building tool.
Boy, is it.
Social media is not a forum to blast clients’ names and diagnoses, but it is a place to be social, and as with any social arena, the point is to meet people and build relationships. Those relationships can turn into referrals or sales. The social media expert I consulted schooled me on the fact that people only have access to the information I give them.
“People do business with those whom they trust, know and like,” the expert counseled me. “They get to know, trust and like you over time.”
The thing is: I believe in relationship building as a powerful vehicle for business building. Since social media requires the same consistency and persistence as building a relationship in person, the only difference is the audience is much broader and information is spread much more rapidly.
Social media relationships, unlike meeting someone at a networking event or other face-to-face venue, get built over time. Popularity doesn’t happen overnight in the online world, but it does happen.
Here are few pointers to get you started:
Create a professional business page. This is key, especially as a healthcare provider. A personal page is a reflection of your private life, the place where your family and friends stay in touch. Your business page, on the other hand, must exhibit the highest image of professionalism. Pictures, videos and comments still play a role in aiding to the presentation of your page, however view them in terms of branding and field expertise.
Online, appearance matters. A visitor may only visit your page once and you want to showcase your brand as something they want to include within their network. Though some business professionals are able to utilize their personal page as a form of promotional leverage for their business, as a healthcare professional, doing so may invite ethical issues and questions regarding DORA (Department of Regulatory Agency) regulations.
Social media is not selling. View your social media as a place to connect with your audience on a more personal level. It’s like dating: Social media is a two-way informational exchange. By communicating in this fashion, it helps to eliminate the stigma around gathering personal information and the unwanted feeling of “being sold.”
Mindfully absorb what online followers and connections offer you as a business person. When online connections provide information and insight into their world, focus on how you bring value and can relate to other people. Added value increases engagement, which is one of the primary goals of social media.
Establish an organization system. Having a system ensures you’ll be able to maintain follow-ups with newly made connections as well as effectively manage your time and efforts. A content calendar is a great place to start.
Social media is an effective marketing tool for the health care provider business person. It helps establish you as a credible and accessible professional in your field, it creates new connections that you otherwise would likely not have, it’s a low time and a no-money investment in your business, and it opens up professional opportunities you wouldn’t even know were there.
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