If you’re like many aesthetic professionals, you’ve probably found that social healthcare provides mixed results. On the one hand, the vast majority of aesthetic consumers — 90%, according to a recent RealSelf survey — expect doctors to be engaged in social media. On the other, you may have found yourself wondering why so few of them are willing to engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
One reason, of course, relates to privacy concerns as potential patients who connect with doctors on the major social networks are essentially announcing their plans to everyone else in their network. (The RealSelf survey cited above found that almost 66% of respondents wouldn’t “like” a doctor on Facebook, with “I don’t want others to know” accounting for almost one-half (43%) of the no votes.)
But privacy is just one piece of the puzzle. The fact is that too many organizations use the major social networks as a way, not to share useful content, but rather, to broadcast promotional messages. On Facebook, for example, a 2014 study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) found that 32.2% of pages dedicated to chronic diseases focused on marketing and promotion while just 9.4% were devoted to providing actual support.
And support, not sales pitches, is exactly what healthcare consumers turn to social media for in the first place. Specific channels aside, doctors who provide it are more likely to attract, rather than alienate, them. As a recent WSJ/Gallup report put it,
Consumers are more likely to engage with companies through social media when they believe those companies’ intentions are genuine. They look for real people and real communities. Therefore, companies that want to become part of the conversation must shift their social media initiatives to be more authentic, responsive and compelling.
Here’s how to put the A-R-C approach into practice:
Be Authentic: As noted above, social is no place for sales pitches. Potential patients are more likely to listen and respond if you seem genuine and personable. They want to interact with a human, not a brand. Back away from the hard sell and focus on creating more of an open dialogue with consumers.
Be Responsive: The social media world is 24/7 and consumers expect timely responses. Answering questions, responding to praise and resolving complaints (within reason) are all ways to encourage the two-way interaction that social media is all about. Healthcare, of course, requires special considerations but ignoring others’ input is never a good idea.
Be Compelling: Content is everywhere and consumers have the ability to pick and choose what they like. Creating compelling, interesting content cuts through the noise by helping people find solutions to their concerns while building trust and the foundation for an ongoing relationship.
The takeaway is clear: Social healthcare is here to stay. Doctors who don’t embrace it may not be for long.