Tweeting Doctors Should Focus on Real Patients, not Fake Followers

twitter fake followersIf you’re among the socially savvy aesthetic professionals who recognize that amassing thousands of fans or followers is of little value, congratulations on avoiding one of the most common mistakes other doctors make.

If not, you might want to read this recent article in “The New York Times,” which shows how people are buying followers for as little as a penny a piece. For celebrities seduced by large follower counts, that may sound like a bargain, but for doctors hoping to connect with potential patients, such vanity metrics add up to a lousy deal.

In fact, the issue of buying followers is only the latest development in the debate over the value of Twitter followers in general. According to the company, the micro-blogging service boasts 140 million “active” users, a term it applies to anyone who logs in once a month. With more than 400 million messages flowing across its servers every day and millions of people rarely logging in, it’s safe to say that a lot of those tweets are going unseen.

Furthermore, 40% of Twitter users are just readers, meaning they don’t tweet themselves or share (retweet) what they read with others. Needless to say, gauging those users’ engagement is difficult, if not impossible.

None of which is to suggest that Twitter is going away or that doctors should delete their accounts. Instead, it’s just more evidence that, in and of itself, amassing legions of followers is unlikely to get you many new patients. Tweets can be useful as a way to broadcast news and information but, ultimately, it’s what happens to those tweets after you send them that counts.

As Josh Herman of BuzzFeed writes,

The ability of your tweets to make people click on something is far more important to advertisers than the number of people that follow the accounts that they use; likewise, the number of people that actually engage with your tweets is more important than the number of people who could have theoretically seen them, based on your follow tally.

Doctor Takeaways

1. Find out who your followers really are

Last month, Status People, a social media management company, unveiled Fake Followers Check, a free tool that analyzes your Twitter followers and categorizes them as fake, inactive or good. How the company determines who’s a fake and who’s just inactive is proprietary but if you have a lot of either one, it may be time to rethink the role Twitter plays in your online marketing efforts.

2. Find out how those (real) followers engage with your efforts

If your real followers like your tweets, they’ll retweet them or otherwise share them through other social networks. Both Twitter and several third-party services, including HootSuite and SocialFlow, will let you track who replies to your tweets, who they share them with how often they click on the links you include. Compare the results with the Google Analytics for your practice website to see how Twitter (denoted by t.co) stacks up against other referral sites and which tweets are delivering the most traffic.

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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