Social media has been a buzz word in many practices this year. Some practices rave about the benefits, while others struggle. Below are five common challenges and how to overcome them.
1. Total outsourcing
I talk with doctors on a regular basis who are frustrated or feel burned. They tell me they’ve paid for subscription social media services for months, sometimes years, without understanding what they’ve paid for. Worse, when they finally review their social media communities they find their content (Facebook posts, tweets, etc.) not congruent with their practice brand.
If you are paying for subscription services, be sure you are making informed decisions and are fully aware how your practice is being represented. Better yet, consider who in your practice could manage it internally. No one is better suited for social media conversation with your patients than your own team.
2. Not talking with patients
Testimonials, word of mouth, and recommendations on Facebook, Google, and online review sites are indicators your team is doing a great job inviting patient comments. In nearly every group I lecture to, there are one or two practices who confidently share how they talk with their patients. However, it seems a majority of practices struggle with talking with patients to foster social media interaction.
Talk with happy patients and encourage them to share their experiences online. Most practices should receive a minimum of several recommendations per week. Boost your online word of mouth by actively inviting patients to share their thoughts on your Facebook, Google Plus, etc.
3. Ignoring advertising opportunities
As more eyeballs spend time on social media, ad opportunities abound on Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t spend much time on social media, these options probably sound entirely new.
After you’ve mastered talking with patients to engage them online (organic method), you can supplement your efforts with ads (paid method). For as little as several dollars per day you can experiment with various ads. Targeting options are fantastic on Facebook and ad space virtually untouched by practices on Twitter. What are you waiting for?
4. Thinking social media doesn’t apply to your practice
A team member recently shared with me that they were “the only game in town” and therefore their doctor felt they didn’t need social media. Unfortunately times have changed and being the only game in town does not make practices immune to what patients have grown to expect.
People are too busy to discover what mystery practices have to offer. Research, such as Google’s commissioned study, ZeroMomentOfTruth.com, proves people want an abundance of information before making purchase decisions.
If the only game in town is a mystery, it may be worth the patient’s time to travel the distance for more definitive options.
Talk with trusted advisors or dental colleagues about their experience with social media. By all means don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. Your online reputation is largely defined by social media—arm yourself with knowledge and empower your practice.
5. Not reaching out for help
Despite their best efforts, some practices still struggle with social media. Whether they have technical challenges or need help understanding branding, often teams are reluctant to reach out for help. Instead they keep spinning—doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
If your social media has stalled or isn’t delivering the results you want, it may be time to engage a webinar, seminar, or some hands-on training. This dynamic form of marketing is changing everyday. Note that traditional branding and marketing knowledge (beyond basic technical knowledge of social media) will help make your efforts more effective and efficient.
Commit to making 2014 the year your practice enters or graduates to a new level of social media success. What do you plan to do differently?