Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

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Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

According to the latest statistics, nearly 150 million Americans are searching for information online and the vast majority of them are searching for healthcare information. This represents a platinum opportunity for healthcare practices to connect with potential new patients and communicate with professional referral sources in cyberspace…

The idea of connecting you to patients and medical professional peers quickly and easily is extremely powerful and has profound implications for future quality of care as well as for how health information is distributed and how your practice is marketed.

Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

Hospitals are adding “social media managers” to their employee rosters a sure sign of just how important social media has become in today’s world. Solo and group practices are also starting to jump on the social media bandwagon using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp and blogs to connect with the world. A 2008 study by Manhattan Research reports that 88 percent of physicians research on the Internet. Over 40 percent of all physician research is now done online.

Social media is now going mainstream in medicine. Research into how to harness its power to improve treatment and outcomes is ongoing. The Mayo Clinic launched its Center for Social Media site earlier this year, focusing its efforts on using social media to improve healthcare globally with the help of patients and physicians.

Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

Your website is the first of many layers
A social media program adds critical layers to your online outreach efforts while promoting your practice brand and messaging. Today’s most effective outreach to patients and referral sources is most likely to occur through a multi-layered approach. The layers include your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp and blogging efforts.

In October 2010, Google and Bing announced that Twitter and Facebook are now indexing Facebook “posts” and Twitter “tweets”. This means live search results for posts and tweets are now appearing on these search engines along with the profile names. This is critical for patients who are searching for you online. Having your website appear in the search results is extremely important, but many patients are looking for more then just a website. They are looking for interaction and other ways to connect with you. Each of your social media accounts will appear in the live search results and allow new or existing patients to follow you and your practice based on the social medium they use most frequently.

Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

Today’s smart phones and computing tablets like iPad have these social media account applications built right in. This is why your social media program should set up the most popular social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp and LinkedIn – for you. Social networking works, whether you personally do it or not.

You might not have a “Like” page on Facebook, a Twitter account or a company page on LinkedIn established today, but this shouldn’t stop you from having one tomorrow and taking advantage of the hottest trend to come along in decades.

Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

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