The first place people turn these days when they want information is the internet. When it comes to healthcare, unfortunately, this usually means a deep-dive into the confusing world of WebMD. Hopefully once a person is sufficiently nervous about their healthcare after reading through long lists of symptoms, they will then look up a doctor near them.
This is where it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to have an online presence. Since the internet is where most people go to find information, you want to be there for them when they type in “doctor near me.” However, you can’t simply make a website and call it a day.
You will need concrete and well-thought plan for various parts of your online presence, as well as a blog with an SEO strategy to ensure you rank when potential patients search for key phrases associated with your practice. Additionally, if you don’t already have a business social media profile, it may be time to get one.
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You must also be actively marketing yourself to your local populations. The good news is you can do this without spending thousands of dollars on a billboard or a local cable-channel ad. A few simple tenets will keep your online presence well-marketed, well maintained, and continuing to grow over the years.
Be Ethical and Honest
Before digging into a social media plan or marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize that as a healthcare professional, you have certain responsibilities in your marketing techniques. Nurses, clinics, and physicians are held to different advertising standards than brands selling a product. For one thing, false marketing won’t just cost you business — it could cost you your license.
For example, some states are suing major pharmaceutical companies for false advertising. It’s not illegal for doctors to prescribe a drug to treat a symptom outside its intended use, but it is illegal for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to advertise for that treatment use when it hasn’t been proven. Consumers are becoming more critical of the advertisements they consume and putting any kind of spin on your own marketing as a healthcare professional could be construed as false advertising.
It may be best to think of any marketing or advertising you do as an extension of the work you do within your office. The Hippocratic oath requires that you be honest and ethical in all engagements with patients under your care. When making marketing decisions, consider that you are engaging with future patients, and as such, you should still be as ethical and honest as you would with someone currently in your patient roster.
Patients will appreciate that you and your clinic come exactly as advertised. This may make them more likely to trust you as their healthcare provider from the very beginning. You’ll bring in more patients with marketing efforts and the relationships will be stronger because you are always straightforward.
Know Your Target Demographic
Once you begin laying out your marketing strategy, you’ll need to identify who you want to bring into the office. Your target demographic will change based on what your specialties are or what kind of patients you’re looking to attract that maybe you haven’t in the past. For example, if you’re an ear, nose, and throat specialist, you would want to target people who have issues with those areas of the body.
Likewise, if you specialize in elder care, you would want to target seniors who are online. This isn’t as counterintuitive as it sounds since many seniors are now getting online daily at increasing rates. Targeting this population would come with some considerations for ease of use and imagery choices.
However, if you want to target a younger generation like Generation Z or millennials, then your marketing approach would be completely different from targeting seniors. Those generations look to Instagram and Snapchat as a way to engage with new products or brands, so you would want to build those presences into your plan. You would also need to use a much more casual tone and informal language.
Essentially, whatever demographic you decide to pursue, you need to be sure your marketing materials are specific to them. You wouldn’t advertise pregnancy care to men between the ages of 18-24, for example. They would see your services and think, “Well, that’s not for me!”
Use Social Media To Your Advantage
Sometimes your marketing plan isn’t about bringing in new patients, but rather about helping you excel professionally. Maybe you’re trying to get a better job, or maybe you’re trying to speak at a conference for a topic you’re passionate about. In either case, it can be a good idea to use social media to your best professional advantage.
For example, using a professional networking platform like LinkedIn can help your career evolve over the years. It enables you to network with other professionals in your field while also demonstrating the work you do. Then, once you’re ready to reach out about a new career opportunity, all of your experience and connections are in one easy-to-access digital place.
However, this strategy doesn’t only have to relegated to LinkedIn. Many institutions will make announcements about career fairs, or new hiring opportunities via social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. By following places you aspire to work at, you may find an opening that’s just the right fit for you at just the right time.
Of course, you can always use social media platforms for more traditional marketing efforts as well, like for your business or your services. Using sponsored posts like those available through Facebook and Instagram allow you to advertise for your practice in a natural way to the demographic you want to reach. This will put you in front of the people you want to reach where they already are without too much extra effort.
It goes without saying as well to make sure you post wisely on social media. Although social media is an essential component of any marketing plan, it can also ruin your reputation. So make sure to keep things professional, both on your business and personal social media accounts.
Regardless of the course you choose for marketing your healthcare services, by crafting a focused plan and staying ethical in every move you make, you will grow your business and your client base over time. You will demonstrate a community savvy that helps patients trust you and engage with you easier. It’s hard to believe this can all come from a few hundred words on the internet, but technology is a powerful tool.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her with any questions or suggestions.