The 5 Cs of Social Healthcare: Choose your Channels to Connect with Top Prospects (Part III in a series)

social healthcare channels

In social media, choosing the right channel for your message is essential for successful marketing (photo by espensorvik via flickr).

When it comes to social media, all platforms are not created equal. And when it comes to marketing cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic procedures via social media, choosing the wrong one can result in a lot of wasted time, misspent marketing dollars and minimal return on your investment.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — they all boast millions of users yet there’s a good chance they’re not delivering much bang for your social media buck.

The temptation is to view social media along narrow sets of tactics, such as signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account, says Tom Seery, CEO of RealSelf.com. But just because you’re speaking on a social platform doesn’t mean people are listening or engaging.

In a way, such channels are like embassies. By registering your profile, you have a presence but someone else controls the environment. In that light, it’s worth understanding what the major “nations” on social media world are like:

Facebook: With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is simply too big to ignore but it shouldn’t dominate your social media efforts. It’s best used to glean insights into what people care about, to share news and to grow your email list but it’s unlikely to drive much traffic to your website. Maintain a toehold on the site but don’t move in.

Twitter: The sheer torrent of tweets sent (as many as 500 million per day) and limited space (140 characters per message) makes it hard to be heard and impossible to get in-depth information across. Claim your profile so spammers don’t but don’t expect to generate many leads from the channel.

Pinterest: Insanely popular, especially with women, the photo-heavy site is fun for users but potentially risky for doctors because any photos you “pin” can be repinned elsewhere raising liability issues. Furthermore, with 7 out of 10 users making less than $75,000 a year, many are unlikely to get serious about pursuing potentially expensive procedures.

RealSelf: With 3.5 million unique visitors a month, RealSelf is a fraction of the size of the major social networks but it delivers something the larger, general-purpose social networks can’t: An audience that is, by definition, keenly interested in cosmetic surgery and seeking the kind of content that will help them make informed decisions.

As Seery says,

Finding the right social media channel is a function of audience size, your own comfort with accessibility and how consumers prefer to get informed about plastic surgery. When they pass along that information, it ends up generating greater impact than any other form of marketing.

Doctor Takeaways

1. Choose your channels carefully

There’s no denying that millions of potential patients and plenty of other doctors are on Facebook and Twitter but “Everybody’s doing it” is no rationale to spend a big portion of your time or marketing budget on the sites as their conversion rates are poor. Claim your profiles, feed updates to them as appropriate and focus your energies where they’ll produce results.

2. Understand the importance of intent

Your best prospects are people who are already researching aesthetic procedures. They are, in marketing speak, high-intent consumers and it’s important to connect with them before they choose a provider. The folks at Google refer to this stage as the “Zero Moment of Truth” and doctors who wait until consumers are ready to pick up the phone or fill out a form run the risk of being too late.

3. Don’t make decisions based on vanity metrics

Socially savvy doctors are wising up to the reality that the traditional tools of social measurement, such as friends, followers and fan counts, do not measure the value of your audience. Such numbers are easily manipulated — you can buy 1,000 Twitter followers for as little as $10 — but the resulting bump will do more for your ego than it will for your bottom line.

4. Ask about your analytics

Part and parcel of the above, it’s not hard to determine which social networks deliver the most engaged consumers. (They’re the ones who reply to your posts, retweet your Twitter insights, share the content you provide, etc.) Your webmaster or marketing agency should be able to provide you with detailed reports about all of the above; if they don’t or won’t, it may be time to consider choosing another.

 

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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