While getting referrals from friends and family for medical care does still play a role in medical practice success, more referrals come from the Internet these days. Business managers worldwide have embraced social media marketing as an inexpensive and effective way to attract new customers and promote loyalty with old ones. Gone are the days of focusing entirely on TV and radio advertising, which has proven expensive and unpredictable based on the return on investment (ROI) in most cases. Savvy medical practice management teams who see the writing on the wall, know they must follow in the footsteps of the general business population and go where the patients are to build a practice. Social media is the answer.
Social Media Tools
Studies verify that referral behavior has changed. Prospective patients now “google” a physician they are considering before making an appointment. For most people, if a physician has no web presence, his credibility is in question. A doctor’s website is an extension of his professionalism. Any physician who is not on the Internet is losing a lot of business. Even referrals made in person may be lost when the new patient tries to look up directions to a doctor’s office and finds that they can’t find a website.
Facebook is the biggest social media player to date with social media changing quickly. Creating a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence is a good place to start for sound medical practice management. The good news is that an administrative staff member who has some downtime can be assigned management over these accounts, essentially adding new patients without spending money. Part of the attraction of social media marketing is that the cost for maintaining a website or blog is nominal compared to other marketing vehicles.
Building an Effective Website or Blog Presence
There are several viable inexpensive, or free options for quickly establishing a website or blog. WordPress is one of the best and easiest to use. By selecting a template from the WordPress Library, anyone who can read can setup a website. Customization is possible by changing colors and adding logos, or implementing free plugins.
The good news about a platform like WordPress is that a lot of the hard work associated with establishing a workable web presence has been taken care of by the WordPress experts. For one, Google loves WordPress, which means that sites that use WordPress are already Google-friendly, giving them an immediate jump in Google rankings.
The rest of the work is left up to maintenance and management of the site by the user. For higher rankings on search pages to attract the most traffic, blog or site content must be refreshed on a regular basis and considered relevant by prospective patients. Posting a new blog article several times a week, using keywords that tie directly to the main medical practice management agenda is of paramount importance. The more articles posted, the better. Having a website or blog that does not get any traffic is useless, so changing up relevant content is key for achieving success.
Smart business practices dictate that medical practices follow the trends in practice development by reaching out to patients based on where they socialize. Social media is the new playground and information bank being used by the masses. Any prudent medical professional who understands the necessity for referral business must master social media as a very significant practice development tool required for success in contemporary times.