Jane Braithwaite’s latest article ‘To Tweet or not to Tweet’ as part of the ‘Top Tips for Busy Doctors’ series in the Independent Practitioner Today publication continues with advice for all those still wondering whether to join the ranks of the twitterati! Read on…

To Tweet or not to Tweet

Twitter is a global instant communication phenomenon. With 500 million tweets taking place every day – should you be allocating time to this activity?

Whilst its detractors dismiss the service as a narcissistic aberration, it’s universally used by academics, economists and politicians, as well as celebrities.

Christina Ronaldo has 44.3 million followers and the Queen made her first tweet in October 2014 to an audience of 724,000. Katy Perry is the most followed celebrity with 85 million followers.

We’ve looked into the relevance of Twitter for a private doctor in London.

To follow are our findings:


Twitter has been going for ten years, which makes it one of the “oldest” social media Platforms. In 2015 there were 13 million UK twitter users and that number is set to increase to over 17 million by 2018. Twitter’s current value is estimated at 10 billion dollars and the service employs 4000 people.

Twitter Users

Some relevant facts:

  • User profile is 50% male and 50% female.
  • 45% of users are aged 18-29
  • 40% of users have a bachelor degree.
  • The country with the highest percentage of Twitter users is Saudi Arabia.
  • 41.5% of all Tweets come from the US.
  • 9.7% of all Tweets come from the UK

Twitter Usage: –

  • News: 63% of users say they view it as a source of news.
  • Sport: The UK’s top live topic is Sport.
  • Mothers on Twitter: 69% log in every day.
  • 12 world leaders have had a Tweet retweeted 20,000 + times.

Conclusions for doctors

Firstly, Twitter should be viewed as part of your marketing strategy. Unlike most forms of marketing it’s free, however it requires planning and can be time consuming.

Furthermore, Twitter is a valid way of communicating with your patients, and enhancing your image whilst marketing your practice. Your tweets can convey a potent message, creating a brand to attract new patients to your website, eliciting their interest and facilitating new bookings.

And finally, Twitter can be used to communicate with the wider medical community, including suppliers, and associated clinics. By linking your brand with theirs, you will attract more followers.

The majority of larger medical associations use Twitter and tend to be very active.

Sir Robert Winston has 35,500 followers and Dr Hilary Jones has 25,000. They both tweet on a daily basis. The BUPA Cromwell Hospital has 1,422 followers discussing a vast range of subjects from Vitamin D, through to care in old age. They advertise job opportunities as well as announcing senior management appointments.

It’s vital to monitor tweets if they’re being written on one’s behalf. Your image is being represented; Tweets can be detrimental if not used judiciously. If you outsource this activity, it’s wise to ensure the service is carried out by someone who understands the complexities of the medical world. Medical marketing is different from other industries; you need a collaborator who understands this distinction. Celebrity endorsements may be viable in the fashion industry; however, a doctor’s patients generally prefer discretion and anonymity: patient confidentiality is crucial.

In the US, incidences have occurred of patient appointment reminders being tweeted, resulting in legal actions against doctors. This has been a particular issue for Cosmetic surgeons in the US.

Twitter is especially relevant if your patient demographic is aged from 18 – 30. Active Twitter usage could also enable you to reach an audience in the US and the Middle East.

Twitter use is not yet widespread amongst the UK’s medical community, offering great potential to lead the way in this field.

Our top tips on how to tweet

  • Photos and Images work well.
  • Avoid tweeting links.
  • Use hashtags to improve search ability. #Doctor # health #medical.
  • The ideal text length is 100 characters.
  • The best time to tweet is between midday and 1pm.
  • Be authentic

The Future

Seeking predictions in relation to digital marketing is like asking a banker about the UK’s future economy. The phenomenal growth of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was unprecedented. Furthermore, Facebook was explosively embraced and subsequently discarded by the younger generation, who replaced the service with Snap chat and Instagram. Facebook is now predominantly used by an older demographic.

Therefore, is Twitter worth your time and effort? We’ve concluded that it’s a potent, free marketing tool enabling instant global communication. Astute usage can enable you to communicate your ethos in a professional and authentic manner – this can only be a good thing for your practice.

Don’t have time to manage the 24/7 needs of social media?  Get in touch and our team of experienced Social Media Managers can help manage it for you.

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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