Social media continues to change the way organizations can shape their identities, communicate, and share information. Does your business have a social media presence? If not, consider one of the hundreds of social media platforms now proliferating the web today such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and podcasts. All of these channels connect and touch groups of people who share similar tastes, interests, and agendas.
Why do you need a presence? Your stakeholders—particularly current clients, prospects, vendors, referring businesses, and even your employees—are already active on these online channels. If you don’t have a presence, you can run the risk of being overlooked. Being visible on social media equals opportunity—opportunities to reach out and connect with these stakeholders. Using social media also presents an opportunity for your practice to become more relatable and personable.
Social media can also benefit you in a number of inexpensive ways. It can help you to:
- Differentiate your business in your community
- Promote new services at your facility
- Establish your business as a thought leader
- Offer a forum for customers to find common ground and share knowledge with others
Social media is different from traditional marketing in that instead of “pushing” out our message (i.e. print ads and static websites), we’re engaging in a two-way conversation with our customers. At a recent social media online conference, the keynote speaker said to think of social media as attending a party and actually talking to people rather than trying to close the deal.
Today, it’s not enough to have people come to your website. They want to interact and chat with you. They want to post messages on your blog or Facebook page, or simply follow your tweets or watch your videos online. As they get to know you, that’s when opportunities emerge.
So, how can you do that? I’ll give you some brief examples. If you operate a medical practice or healthcare business, you can write a weekly blog post where you can share personal stories or write mini case studies of patients (being mindful of HIPAA laws, of course). You can offer general advice to patients, i.e. how to prevent sidewalk slips and falls this winter season, through a YouTube video. On Twitter, you can inform your followers about new research being done at a local medical institution or about upcoming flu vaccinations at your practice. These are just some examples as to how social media allows your followers to develop a more personal connection to your practice.
In upcoming weeks, I’ll take a closer look at specific social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, and provide you with some useful tips to get you started.
Let us know some of the ways you are currently using social media. Also, if there are any social media or technology topics you’d like to see me discuss in future blog posts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.