4 Steps for Doctors Who Want to Turn Social Consumers into New Patients

listen engage target internet marketingIt’s not you; it’s them.

It sounds like a variation on the cheesy breakup line — “It’s not you, it’s me” — but it’s actually just the opposite. It’s a formula for building ties, not severing them, a point that perhaps becomes a little clearer when you interpret it as “It’s not (about) you; it’s (about) them.”

As Derek Laney of Salesforce.com puts it, successful social media marketing is about listening to your customers, understanding their world and addressing their pain points. It’s not about pushing products and touting your services, but rather, engaging with consumers on their terms and in ways that will make them see that when it’s time to commit that it should be you after all. Here’s how:

Listen in real time

According to ASAPS, nearly 9.2 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. last year and you can rest assured that not a single one was the result of someone waking up and saying, gee, I think I’ll get a facelift or chemical peel today. Instead, people are doing their homework, researching what others have to say about their experiences and making their decisions about providers accordingly.

And they’re doing it more and more via social media. In fact, according to AAFPRS, 42% of patients received most of their information about plastic surgery from social media last year, an increase from 29% the year before. From asking questions on RealSelf to posting photos on Pinterest, people are providing invaluable insights on what they’re interested in NOW. Eavesdropping is not only acceptable; it’s essential.

Build and engage connections

Building connections goes both ways. Engaging with consumers while they’re in research mode keeps your name top of mind when they reach the “moment of truth,” i.e., the point where they’re ready to buy. Engaging with peers through professional networks, sharing research, guest blogging, etc., promotes your expertise as a thought leader.

In fact, such efforts do more than just boost your reputation among patients and peers; they also appeal to search-engine algorithms. Sharing quality content is a great way to improve your ranking in search results.

Turn insight into action

So, your research reveals that people are curious about, say, laser tattoo removal — what do you do with the info? The options are endless. A blog post on the subject. Tweets with before and after photos of successful treatments. Special offers to the people on your email list. Coordinate your efforts across all platforms that you participate in, encourage readers to share your content with others and provide links back to your website and a clear call to action.

Be more targeted than ever

As loud, busy and occasionally scary as social media can be, it offers something no other marketing channel can touch: unsurpassed analytics. Once you’ve determined what social media sites deliver visitors to your practice website, what pages they tend to view and what actions they take, you’ll have a better sense of what works, what doesn’t and where to devote your resources.

You’ll also get a better sense of who your best leads are. Focus your subsequent communications on those people, address their needs and interests and you’ll go from “It’s not you; it’s them” to “It’s you and them together.”

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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