December 18, 2017

Generating Medical Practice Referrals Using Social Media

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Doctors and other medical providers have traditionally sought referrals only from existing clients. Until just recently, that was the only means. But in today’s world of social marketing, there is another way, and even a better way to go about medical practice marketing.

Who is using social media for medical practice marketing?

More than twenty percent of medical practices nationwide are already using social media for practice building. Twenty four percent of Americans who are active on the Internet report engaging in some form of social media regarding health concerns at least once per month. Eighty percent of Americans look at websites and search engines to find information on health topics.

Patients use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to learn about and contact medical providers in various disciplines. In other words, social media is a popular source of information gathering for health consumers nationwide. With that in mind, the opportunities for health providers of all kinds to engage in referral marketing through social media are profound.

Social media personalizes your medical practice marketing campaign

Social media is seen to personalize medical practice marketing, creating true emotional connections between provider and patients. The provider is the expert in this relationship, but patients become active participants, too, with the opportunity to become better informed patients at the same time. Social media functions essentially on word of mouth, and this powerful communication medium can lead to effective referral building.

Personal recommendations carry with them the bond that can only come from relationships built on trust. These recommendations are inherently trusted, and therefore promptly relied upon. This is an effective means of generating referrals, and leads to immediately well established relations between provider and patient.

Ensuring your social marketing campaign generates referrals

At the same time, a social media campaign or effort must be evaluated on a return on investment basis as would any other marketing effort. First of all, marketing a medical practice through social media requires a significant investment of time, whether by staff or provider him or herself. Marketing a medical practice through social marketing can also be slow to produce any significant return. Developing followers takes time. Also, a provider’s reputation as developed through social marketing must be carefully managed.

Negative comments are quickly multiplied in the social realm, and any positive effects can be quickly muted. It is also worth testing the effects of the campaign to insure effectiveness and return on cost. Callers and new patients should always be asked for the source of their contact with the practice. Most social marketing websites provide little or no tracking information, so this will have to be collected actively.

Despite the difficulty of starting and operating a social marketing campaign for medical providers, the effectiveness of these campaigns is proven. They are worth the effort. Many consultants specialize in social marketing for medical providers, and one may be worth using or at least meeting with. When all is said and done with social marketing, its advantages far outweigh its costs and difficulties.

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