The predominant rule of thumb with social media is ‘be where your audience is’. We know they are out there on social media, but where? And how do we find them and engage with them?
Understanding social media
Jane Braithwaite says the starting point is to develop a good understanding of the various social media platforms and the demographics of their users so that you can begin to plan your social media strategy using the right channels.
Largely speaking, clinics and doctors will be targeting consumers, not other businesses, so we should be looking at the platforms where the consumer audience is most likely to be.
So, this month, we are focusing on the various social media platforms and the suitability of each, looking at the UK market rather than globally.
Social media marketing is widely considered to be the most cost-effective marketing method, so it’s an area private doctors should be using.
The social media market within the UK is mature and there have been no new competitive entrants in the last year. The ‘big three’ are recognised to be Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but Instagram and Pinterest are making inroads into the market share.
I will consider each of these platforms in turn to show how each is used with a view to helping you to decide which are right for you.
: Has the largest user base –approaching 35m UK users, which is roughly half the UK population;
: 70% of UK users log in daily;
: It has an even split of male/female users.
These statistics have remained consistent over the last year, making Facebook a very appealing platform to utilise. With statistics that put the proportion of over-18-year-olds in the UK using Facebook at 78%, it’s clearly a platform that allows communication with most of the population in one place.
There is a sense that Facebook is less well received by the younger population, but, in fact, the largest demographic using Facebook is in the 20 to 29 age bracket. Broadly speaking, Facebook has the widest and largest cross-demographic outreach of any of the platforms.
For many reasons, Facebook is an excellent platform for business marketing and should probably be considered the primary social media platform for doctors and clinics.
Be aware, though, that the number of people who view your post on Facebook is very low at 10%. The good news is that paid advertising is really cost-effective and we can target the audience when using paid adverts.
When designing your business page, it’s worth thinking broadly about what audiences are interested in and will respond to; could an educational approach appeal to them? For example, this could be a page about orthopaedic surgery which creates useful, expert information rather than one which is solely promotional.
Informed and engaged
In fact, taking an approach that is purely promotional is likely to put off potential followers. Social media users want to be informed and engaged and will react negatively to hard selling.
Facebook can be used with a sense of fun. It is appropriate to be more informal than other platforms and you can add a touch of appealing humour to your posts.
Another strong feature of Facebook is the ability for patients and associates to leave reviews of your service. This customer feedback can be incredibly powerful and you should encourage patients to leave reviews for you.
You need to invest time responding to reviews and comments and thank people for taking the time to review you.
The ability to respond to your client base almost immediately is also very powerful.
Facebook is also very useful for clinics and doctors who run events and speaking engagements.
So, in summary, we are recommending the use of Facebook very highly, especially paid advertising.
: Has 21m UK users – a slight increase on last year;
: But take note, not all these users log in daily: many dip in on a weekly or even monthly basis.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and doctors could consider their profile on LinkedIn to have the same importance as their website in terms of providing a profile describing their background, education and areas of interest.
Most of our patients will be on LinkedIn and may use it as means to check out doctors and clinics. LinkedIn invests considerable effort in ensuring their results come very high on internet searches. If a patient searches your name on Google or another search engine, the LinkedIn results feature very highly and your LinkedIn profile will be easily found.
LinkedIn allows you to create a personal profile and a business page for your clinic or practice. It is much easier to drive activity from your personal profile, but it’s important to have a business page too. LinkedIn also has numerous groups for you to join and engage with.
For doctors and clinics who choose to use LinkedIn to share information, then good quality content is essential. This is a professional platform and, while some people use it as a social platform, most users frown upon this type of activity and believe it should be kept to Facebook.
LinkedIn offers paid advertising and you may feel this suits your clinic or practice, but we would suggest that you are probably better investing time and money into Facebook.
The main reason for this is that most Facebook users log in daily, whereas LinkedIn users dip in and out on a weekly or even monthly basis.
One specific application where LinkedIn can be very powerful is recruiting staff.
In summary, we would suggest that all doctors and clinics have a presence on LinkedIn, both a personal and business page and these should be very professional. Time should be invested to respond to connection requests and comments on a weekly basis.
A decision to use LinkedIn more proactively for marketing will depend largely on your area of specialty and the patients you are looking to appeal to. In most cases, we would suggest it is not the best platform for marketing.
: Has 15m users, which is approximately 45% of UK adults;
: 62% of users have an income of over £48k;
: 37% login daily.
Twitter has a slightly larger user base than Instagram and it boasts a younger demographic, with 64% users aged 18 to 29 years.
Many individuals use Twitter to keep up with news and information in their areas of interest. For example, Twitter is a very effective way to find immediate reactions to an event – for example, the UK election and the awful tragedies in London.
When you are watching a live TV programme or sports event, Twitter will give you an immediate sense of people’s responses and views.
Twitter is a fast-moving stream of content, which means that, like Facebook, it offers a more casual interaction with users.
In terms of marketing, Twitter can be used to share your brand and personality with your audience. Using good-quality, curated content on Twitter can drive users to your website to find out more information.
Twitter is a more specific demographic than Facebook and it appears private hospitals do better on Twitter than private doctors and clinics simply because they have a bigger, more diverse audience.
Your Twitter strategy needs to include engaging with other relevant clinics, associates and users and starting a conversation with them.
Ideally, you want to create a situation where other bigger Twitter users ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ your posts to help you gain a wider audience.
Clinics which run, or are involved with, regular events are likely to be more successful on Twitter too because of the nature of the platform. You can use Twitter to build up excitement about an event and particularly on the day of the event itself.
Like Facebook, Twitter is a low-cost advertising platform.
Twitter could be a very useful part of your marketing strategy especially if your patients – and therefore your audience – is in the younger demographic.
It is not as obvious to use effectively as Facebook. The practice of following others and the use of hashtags requires somebody who knows how the platform works and you would be advised to engage an expert to ensure your time and money is invested wisely.
: Has 14m UK users;
: 46% of users have an income of over £48k.
Hot on the heels of Twitter in all senses, Instagram boasts a more visual user experience, with 29% of adults using Instagram and 64% of users aged under 30.
Instagram can be very helpful to drive brand awareness. It’s a highly visual medium and requires original, attractive content every day of the week.
Photos are great and some accounts do very well with created visuals such as quotes and infographics, but, generally speaking, content can’t be repeated on Instagram as it can be on Twitter and Facebook.
Instagram is less demanding than Twitter and Facebook in terms of posting – once a day is fine – but great visual content is hugely important.
So, for many doctors and clinics, it’s just not feasible to run an Instagram account due to the nature of the specialty. There will be differences between clinics and private doctors – cosmetic surgeons and clinics providing beauty treatments could find an audience on Instagram, for example – but it’s more unlikely that knee surgeons would.
Instagram as a platform is unlike the others because you can follow, like and comment relatively privately compared to Twitter and Facebook. Use of Instagram is limited by the lack of a retweet facility or the inclusion of links. You will see many posts stating ‘link in bio’ to try to overcome this weakness.
Instagram does provide a paid advertising option and you will see these paid posts in your feed labelled as ‘Sponsored’. If Instagram is the right platform for you, then this can be very effective.
Instagram is a great marketing tool for those of us who offer a visually appealing service. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ shots of cosmetic treatment and weight-loss programmes are numerous. But for many of us, producing appealing images daily may be prohibitive.
Pinterest is quite different to the other platforms and is used more as a personal tool rather than a social media tool. It has less than 15m UK users and less than 15% log in daily. A key difference is that Pinterest has a strong female bias.
The content on Pinterest, like Instagram, needs to be very appealing. Users choose their interests and are fed posts that are likely to appeal to them.
It is hard to see how this platform would be used in a private medical setting.
At this point in time, Facebook is our number-one recommended platform for private doctors and clinics. It gives greatest reach through all demographics and users view the content daily. But remember that paid advertising is essential.
It’s vital to be present on LinkedIn and to have a very professional personal and business profile. LinkedIn can be used to share good-quality content, but we would not advise investing in paid advertising.
Twitter can be a great way to create a community, to engage with others and potentially to drive more visitors to your website if it’s used properly. It’s harder to use effectively than the other platform, so getting some expert advice is essential.
Instagram is best used to build brand awareness and will only suit those of us who can continually produce appealing content.
Pinterest may be relevant to a small group of doctors or practices but, in our opinion, holds narrow appeal.
Finally, once you have decided which platforms will work for you, ask yourself this question: ‘Why would someone follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?’
Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.
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If you would like to speak to our team of Social Media Experts about how we can help you with your digital marketing and social media please get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call to speak to one of our team: 020 7952 1008.
Read Jane Braithwaite’s latest article ‘Ways you can manage your profile’ published in the November edition of the Independent Practitioner Today talks about how independent practitioners can manage their public image. Read here…
Our monthly series by Jane Braithwaite(right) gives some vital tips to help independent practitioners manage their public image
Ways you can manage your profile
What do I know about you?
Have you evaluated the image you portray to prospective patients? Your personal information is easily accessible, including your social media profile and Companies House business records. But how can you manage your profile proactively?
Why is this relevant?
The most reliable form of marketing is undoubtedly word of mouth. Contented patients will recommend you to their families, friends and colleagues, establishing an initial element of trust and setting high expectations about your expertise for prospective patients.
Previously, a patient might have looked up your practice in a directory and called your secretary to make a booking; but this no longer applies. Inevitably, a patient is going to do some online research prior to making an appointment.
What will a patient find when they Google your name?
Ideally, the information listed will consolidate their positive expectations, leading to a booking.
Your website should appear high up in the search results, followed by your Linked In profile. This is an optimal result, as your patients would see the image you would like to portray.
But the reality may be somewhat different…
In a not uncommon scenario, your name may be shared by multiple people, leading to a convoluted wild goose chase by the prospective patient – and a negative result.
So here’s what to look out for:
If you have been a director or owned a limited company, you will be listed on Companies House. There are numerous agencies offering information about your financial performance for a small fee.
Your home address may be listed if it has been utilised at any point as your registered address. Patients will also be able to view your business associates and collaborators. If you are involved in a family business, your patients will be able to see personal details you may wish to keep private.
Social media platforms
These set your profile as ‘public’ by default; if you are a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram user, you need to go to rigorous lengths to keep your posts private.
It’s common practice for people to check you out on Facebook. If the result portrays you drinking beer in the Caribbean, the prospective patient may opt to go elsewhere.
Often doctors are listed on numerous hospital websites; this can be confusing for prospective patients. Where do you actually work? Why are you working across five different locations?
Private health-care directories are a thriving business and you may find you have been listed on several of these without your knowledge or consent.
Directories amass their data in a random fashion and it’s often out of date. It would be fairly off-putting for a prospective patient to be referred to an obsolete address.
Increasingly, services are being evaluated online by clients, and patients will find opportunities to leave reviews and comments on the service you provide. This phenomenon is only going to grow.
This could be excellent for your practice if the reviews are positive; however, negative reviews are clearly undesirable. Assessment is always subjective and this is a factor to consider. Mumsnet is a good example of a very active site which is often used by patients to evaluate doctors and post and share reviews.
It’s possible you may be linked to a famous patient via an article in the press. This can be invaluable if your name is associated with positive accolades, but how does one deal with potentially negative comments?
It would take concerted time and effort to remove all personal data and would require dedicated, meticulous attention.
There is a compelling argument for managing your profile proactively and taking control.
You can ensure that positive comments and endorsements are easily found – this is technically achievable.
Taking control of your profile will entail an initial investment of time, as well as ongoing, regular maintenance, by means of the following:
The creation and management of a professional website is a separate issue. But, in summary, check that your website is smart, functional and contemporary, including updated contact details.
If you don’t already have a website, we would strongly encourage you to create one. A one-page website including a professional photograph, relevant contact details and a succinct welcome message about your services would be sufficient to start with.
Currently, most professionals use LinkedIn and your patients will fully expect to find you listed on this service. It’s fundamental to include a professional photograph and a good introduction.
The free service is adequate, there’s no need to upgrade to a premium facility. In addition, LinkedIn invests heavily in ensuring its results are prioritised because you will miss out if you are not listed accordingly.
The vast majority of the global populace use social media; it is feasible to participate while managing and retaining your privacy. Platforms periodically change their privacy setting and conditions and you need to check these regularly. Ask someone to look you up and see what they find.
Check the websites on which you are listed. Are they appropriate? If this isn’t the case, instigate removal of your details. If the websites are relevant, ensure listings are correct and consistent with your website and LinkedIn profiles.
Firstly, directories can easily be contacted to update your details, upload a photo and so on. Services will try to upgrade you to a premium package, which is unnecessary in most cases.
These are technically inspired. It’s possible to set up free, daily alerts and notifications on specific topics featured on the internet. You can set up your contact preferences and receive an email each time something relevant comes online.
Regular reviews of your online profile
This is an ongoing consideration. You need to evaluate and monitor your profile periodically to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises. Furthermore in most cases, a brief monthly check will suffice, especially if using Google Alerts effectively.
We are happy to assist with any aspect of the above. Please get in touch as our team of Digital Marketing and Social Media Managers can review your online presence. Meanwhile, enjoy exploring and taking control.
Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.
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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.
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
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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Outsourcing your social media has so many benefits. Considering there are over 2.3 BILLION social media users, with 73 % deciding whether to buy a product based on social media reviews, there really is no excuse not to jump on the social media bandwagon anymore.
A whopping 93% of retail brands use 2 social media platforms!
On the downside, engaging, tweeting, creating pins for Pinterest and researching the best hashtags for a tweet does take considerable time, not to mention consistency. The majority of rising private medical centres realise the importance of connecting to their audience through social media. But an even larger majority either do not have the budget for a social media manager as a full timer. This is where outsourcing your social media comes in.
Benefits Outsourcing Social Media
With social media, you’re constantly learning. New trending hashtags are created on a daily basis along side new social platforms. You have to stay ahead of the game and have the ability to think outside the box, to think creatively and to multi-task beyond what’s usually thought capable. That’s why outsourcing to a social media specialist is a must.
A specialist can;
- Schedule messages and blog posts to multiple different platforms
- Create a digital marketing plan
- Work out your brands specific goals and objectives
- Know your target audience just as well, if not better than you
- Find multiple ways to connect with them through social media
By outsourcing to one of our digital marketing executives, you can save time and money by only paying for how many hours you think you really need. No more finding office space and ordering expensive PCs. No payroll or tax concerns, a virtual PA will have an elaborate home office and manage their own taxes.
I’ve learned the hard way when it comes to consistency on social media. Whilst creating our popular Designated blog – marketing tips for small businesses – we discovered that posting consistently, at least 3 times a week tended to double our traffic and we had less ‘slump days’ in the week. Yes, it took more time, but we are now reaping the benefits of our highest traffic to date AND a substantial increase in our lead generation. Do you have the time to;
- Post on Twitter at least 3 times a day including weekends?
- Regularly update your business Facebook page and engage with your audience?
- Source out alternative communities and possible target audiences through Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google Plus?
- Have a dedicated full timer to check all of these platforms, engage and reply to customer comments throughout the day?
If not, then outsourcing could be for you.
How much would it cost to hire a social media marketing manager in London? It ranges from 26- 40K, and this still doesn’t ensure the employee is the right fit for your brand. When you outsource, not only are you guaranteed a professional who has substantial social media experience, but you also save on the cost of hiring a full timer.
I for one can admit that I can get far more done working in the comfort of my own home in a 5 hour shift than I EVER could working an 8 hour one with office distractions.
I grew tired of the amount of times I had to waste time to attend meetings that had nothing to do with my sector, and the long expensive commutes. Working from home has seen my results double!
Designated PA are accustomed to getting results from their startups. We consistently improve brand awareness and create customer engagement with our bespoke packages.
Designated PA are also experts in the recruitment of medical secretaries and have substantial experience working with doctors in the exclusive district of Harley Street.
So why not give it a trial run and outsource with us today?