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Do you feel like you’re getting hit over the head with the whole “social media” conundrum?
Ignore at your peril! You have to manage your online reputation! It’s the new marketing tool!
And yet, there are plenty of questions.
Does it really work? How am I going to fit this into my workday? In this economy? What are the tangible benefits to my practice?
You are right to pause, but one fact is indisputable: It’s here to stay. And fan or not, an online presence going forward at least ensures that you and your practice will remain relevant and viable in an evolving healthcare field.
Once upon a time, people connected in real life — over coffee, at the golf course, at school and community events. Today? It’s Facebook, the social media gorilla with more than 550 million users a day. Add Twitter (175 million daily posts), YouTube with 4 billion video views globally a day, Linked-In with an expected 5.3 billion professional searches this year as well as a plethora of lesser known sharing outlets.
It’s a fact that 50 percent of the world’s population is under 30. This demographic in the U.S. can’t remember when phones were attached to a cord or been in a classroom without a computer. Looking for a dentist in the phone book? What’s a phone book?
Their world view is of near-instant connectivity and their pursuit is to connect technologically. To them, social media is more norm than anomaly.
Are these your patients? Do you want them to be?
For those of us over 35, it’s a different world and social media is a newfangled tool. But social media — like the telephone of a different era — is merely the latest vehicle to reach, educate, engage and communicate with patients.
“The most meaningful reason to establish a presence (online) is that patients can find you and perhaps learn a bit more about your perspective, approach and rapport with your patient base,” wrote Howard Luks, a member of the external advisory board to the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media.
A New York orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Luks thoughtfully and thoroughly explores why social media matters to doctors in any field, how to harness it as an influential tool, and exactly how to set up a digital presence in a must-read piece for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
Social media also allows doctors “to replicate the content that you share with 40 or more patients every day in your office,” Dr. Luks said. “Why not convert that to print form and benefit from the fact that that content is now available to anyone who wishes to read it?”
Dr. Luks finds other benefits as well: providing patients with meaningful content, sharing health-related information, humanizing the healthcare encounter, sharing news of professional accomplishments of you and your staff, promoting community outreach programs the office offers, among others.
To be sure, there are legitimate questions. Consultants, and I’ve talked to some, see social media platforms as a marketing tool to be exploited. But there must — and should — be more to it than the commercialized junk we see in a Google search.
It’s possible and doable. More next month.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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