Professionals Online: Tools at Your Fingertips

Author: Deepa Gulrajani, DC and Brendan McCann, DC/Tuesday, January 05, 2016/Categories: December 2015

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By Deepa Gulrajani and Brendan McCann

ARE YOU ONLINE YET? LET’S START BUILDING THE BUZZ. In past months, we have explored research on why health care providers take to the Internet and the best practices for creating a professional, ethical online presence. Recognize your digital footprint: All online interactions should be considered for their total overall impact and potential consequences. The footprint is an enduring impression that reflects your business specifically but also the chiropractic profession as a whole. Therefore, each member of the chiropractic community shapes our highly visible footprint. For many providers, though, the process of joining the conversation remains a perceived barrier. “I don’t have the computer savvy for that” remains an incredibly common defense among DCs of all generations. This month, we’ll help by laying out the setup for each of the most popular social utilities.

Social media is all about perpetuating your brand. Before opening accounts on each of these platforms, make specific goals. What do you want to see come from your social media efforts? Be sure to familiarize yourself with the different platforms before opening business accounts.

Prior to starting your social media accounts, think about these questions:

• How often and at what time of day should you post?

• What content themes should you choose? (Developing a content calendar can help determine what types of posts you should have ahead of time.)

• What image do you want your patients to associate with your business?

• What branding hashtags will be used on every social media platform?

Remember when setting up social media profiles that it’s important to include links to all your other accounts, and – most important – to your website.

Some online services such as Hootsuite can link all of your social media accounts, making it easier to increase your online presence. Depending on your marketing budget and time allotment, spending money on services such as this can allow you to develop content ahead of time and schedule it to post to your assorted pages automatically.

Recently, the National Institutes of Health held a summit on how agencies, scientists, clinicians, organizations and patients themselves use digital communications to engage with people on science and health. One audience member tweeted a quote from SmokeFree.gov’s initiative director, Dr. Erik Augustson, saying, “Don’t see Facebook as a free platform — see it as a platform that requires $ investment.”(1)

How to Use Facebook:

  1. Users must have a personal profile before setting up a business page. Best practices suggest that the personal account should not use the business name, but if privacy is a concern, settings are available to address this.

  2. Set up your Facebook Page at www.facebook. com/business/products/pages. This may be a page for your business or even a public professional page for yourself. Be sure to provide as much information as possible. Remember, the page should be a tool for patients to find you and learn about the practice. Don’t forget to link to your website or other profiles.

  3. Add links to your profile from your website.

  4. Click "Suggest Page" to find friends and invite your contacts to like your page.

• Friends can share your page and ask their own networks to like your page.

• Friends can also suggest their own contacts to like your page.

  1. Ask your patients to rate you and write reviews. This is a great way to develop more referrals.

Monitor what is and what isn’t working on your page with Facebook Insights. This suite of metrics allows you to monitor engagement, get to know your audience better and use that information to find the best ways to further connect with your audience.

How to Use Twitter:

Twitter’s greatest strength – and challenge – is brevity. You are limited to 140 characters. It provides fast-paced generation of widely available content, which can grab the attention of just about anyone. “To me it’s a cocktail party that is nonstop,” says Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and essayist for The New Yorker. “You can dip into the cocktail party whenever you want and talk to whomever you want at this party. And if you don’t like that particular person, just move on to the next.”(2) He notes that Twitter’s short-form space works well for sharing quotes from books, highlights from news and even random content like music. Note that he represents himself personally on Twitter. Many accounts that represent businesses stick to far more focused topics in their posts.

You can open a Twitter account in seconds at http://twitter.com. If you’re feeling ambitious, open one for your practice and one for yourself. The website’s mobile app streamlines the process of running multiple accounts, as can a utility likeTweetDeck.twitter.com.

How to Use Instagram:

  1. Set up basic elements like username, a one-line bio and a profile photo.

  2. Follow people and organizations related to your interests and practice.

  3. Post with hashtags, using both popular trends and creative tags.

  4. Share across multiple platforms directly through Instagram.

The Instagram experience is entirely crafted around sharing visual media, namely pictures and short videos. For a successful presence on this platform, many doctors cultivate a stream including photos of the practice’s involvement in the community, fitness video clips and health and nutrition tips. Creative taglines and hashtags drive users to “like” their posts.

How to Use Google Plus:

Finally, consider Google’s social networking options. Google Plus, the dedicated social network, is not popular except in technology circles. However, incorporating services like Google Places provides the advantage of appearing readily in searches and on Google Maps. Google will walk you through the process at https://www.google.com/business. Until you take control of your listing, any member of the public can put you on the map, and this is one way to ensure that your information is always accurate.

Get your name all over Google. How exactly do you do this? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that drives traffic to your online content, whether via social media pages or your business website, when people type into the Google, Yahoo or Bing search engines. Typically, people click on one of the first few websites that pop up when searching for a chiropractor in any given location so you want to make sure that you’re listed on the first page. Investing some of your marketing budget into services that could help develop this may be worthwhile.

Last, you want to make sure you’re giving all your social media accounts some love. Create and share content that matters to your patients and finds them in all the places where they already spend time. It will increase your value in their eyes and might just provide the nudge that they need to live a healthier life.

Sources

  1. https://twitter.com/elzeig/status/656134598292852736

  2. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/815241_5

This article is Part 3 of a three-part series on communication. For Part 1, see the August 2015 ACA News, Page. 37 at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=265887. For Part 2, see the October 2015 ACA News, Page 34 at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=273133.

Online Communications Commandments

  1. Identify your target audience.

  2. Determine your objective.

  3. Select the appropriate channel for your message.

  4. Decide up-front how much time and effort you can invest.

Don’t Forget HIPAA!

For more information on HIPAA and electronic communications, go to www.acatoday.org/HIPAA.

Also see advice from the General Medical Council on Doctors’ use of social media at www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/ethical_ guidance/21186.asp.

 

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