Is Social Media Worthwhile for Physicians?

I came across a blog post on KevinMD.com that gave a very different perspective on social media for physicians. It’s titled “Why social media may not be worth it for doctors.” After reading it, I concluded that I do not agree with any of the points the author tries to make in the article. The author presents a very out-of-date way of thinking about social media, filled with misconceptions about its purpose in business. This is my rebuttal to these ideas.

  • The first point the author presents is that there is no return on investment (ROI) for social media. His reasoning is that a Facebook post or Twitter post doesn’t produce any additional income. He says that “you would have to be posting something that actually causes more patients to come into the office where you can see them and charge for your services.”

A single Facebook or Twitter post may not directly create income, but the strong community of loyal followers built on these sites will increase patient volume and ultimately income. The idea that you need to post things that actually drives more patients into the office is exactly what social media is about. Social media sites allow you to create a voice for your practice and physicians online that patients and potential patients can identify with. This helps them feel more comfortable with your practice before they enter the door. Also, posting information that is valuable to patients such as health tips or medical news helps establish your practice’s expertise and can put you ahead of other practices like yours in the patient’s mind.

  • The second point the author presents is that social media is just one more thing to burn you out. He says that doctors are already burned out on any given office day and to add the learning curve of just one social media site could be the last straw in the workload.

It’s true that doctors and practice managers both have very heavy workloads. However, it is a common misconception that social media takes an overwhelming amount of time. In fact, with proper planning, posting to social media profiles will only take a couple of minutes. If you take 30 minutes at the beginning of each month to develop a content schedule with each post already created, then you will have an entire month’s worth of effortless posting. Physicians aren’t the only ones who can come up with valuable posts for social media, the entire office can participate. The responsibility of creating a content schedule can be distributed throughout the practice. Have each staff member come up with two or three social media posts for the month and your content schedule will be done in no time. Overcoming the learning curve for social media sites shouldn’t be much of a concern. These sites are created to be user-friendly. Anyone, regardless of their level of computer knowledge, can learn to use social media sites successfully.

  • The third point the author presents is that social media is a fad and a waste of time unless you are selling something directly online or consider it a hobby.

The first thing to note is that social media is in no way a fad. It’s a fundamental change in how we communicate. People use social media as an easy way to stay constantly connected and for the benefits of instant answers. In fact, 23% of Facebook users check their accounts five times or more every day. Social media isn’t a fad for businesses either. About 80% of Facebook users prefer to connect with businesses on Facebook, so it’s no surprise that over one million websites have integrated with the social network giant. The author also has this idea that you must sell a product or service directly through social media in order for it to increase income. The purpose of establishing a social media presence is to use the online space to create a positive and inviting environment that both patients and potential patients can and want to be a part of. The overall goal is to increase patient volume, thus increasing income, and successful social media usage can do that very thing.

Social media is here to stay as a crucial part of marketing in today’s environment. Using social media doesn’t have to be a pain. It can actually be quite fulfilling to have a presence and voice online that people care about. By developing a plan for social media, you can easily incorporate it into your workday. If you use social media correctly, you can cultivate an online community, which will ultimately help drive patients to your practice.

– Jessica Troccoli, Social Media Coordinator

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