Popular radiologists’ website Aunt Minnie recently posted about social media use for Breast Imaging specialists. Referencing an article in Journal of Breast Imaging by Drs. Elsa Kuhl and Jocelyn Rapelyea, they pointed out that radiologists have an opportunity to support patient education with their social media presence.
Patients pay attention to social media information and are very likely to go to social media accounts early and often in their preparation for mammograms. The authors pointed this out and advocated for radiologists to use social media for patient education and for marketing.
Which social media platform?
One of our favorite parts of the article was the discussion of how different social media platforms can contribute to radiologists’ efforts. “Kuhl and Rapelyea offered six ways that breast radiologists can use social media to connect with patients and referring physicians,” Aunt Minnie pointed out:
- “Create a Facebook page and use it to share articles, connect with patients, and establish a web presence.” This is certainly a good use of Facebook. People using Facebook are surprisingly likely to look for health information there, so it’s a great place to share. It can be a good place to establish a web presence, too, but it shouldn’t be the centerpiece of your online presence. Facebook owns whatever you post there, and can change the rules at any time. You should focus on your owned online presence. Websites can fit any budget nowadays, and every medical professional should have one.
- “Use Instagram to post photos of offices that give patients a ‘glimpse into your group’s patient-centered culture.'” Instagram is very good for this purpose. Be super-careful with photos for HIPAA compliance. It’s easy to overlook patient info in a snapshot.
- “Post educational videos on YouTube that address topics such as what patients can expect during a visit and radiation safety.” Videos appeal to patients and help them feel more connected with you. Be sure to share your YouTube videos on your website and on other social media platforms.
- “Create a Yelp account and connect it to other social media so that patients can write reviews and endorse practices.” It’s easy to overlook Yelp, since there are so many health-specific review sites, but it’s a popular platform and Google indexes it.
- “Use LinkedIn to connect with other physicians and boost your web presence.” This can be particularly useful when you rely on referrals.
- “Use Twitter to participate in free open access medical education with the handle #FOAMed.” The authors meant “hashtag.” Your handle at Twitter is your username — like @RebeccaHaden. But Twitter can also reach patients and referring physicians. You can share information and connect with communities discussing healthcare.
Is it realistic for you to focus on six different social media platforms, even if they all have visible value? Probably not. Identify some metrics to watch as you decide which social media platform or platforms will bring you the most value.
- Which platforms bring the most traffic to your website? If you’re seeing action from Pinterest and you don’t even post there, that’s a good sign that Pinterest could work well for you.
- Which platforms show the most engagement? If you get dozens of comments at Facebook every week, that means your people are hanging out there. Join them. Then track whether that traffic converts.
- Which social media platform responds well to tests? Post a unique discount code on each of the platforms you’re considering and see which one sends customers into your office.
Determine how much time and/or money you have to invest in social media. If you’re willing to put in 20 minutes a day or to spend a few hundred dollars a month, you can do well on one platform. Double the investment and you can do well on two platforms. Pick the ones that bring the most value and commit.
Some platforms take quiet spells better than others. Linked In, for example — if you have a good profile, you can ignore Linked In when you get busy and still benefit. Go dark on Facebook and you won’t benefit at all. Hire someone to manage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Take care of Linked In and yelp yourself; a slow spell won’t matter as much.
Once you’ve identified the social media platforms that will help you the most, develop a strategy and put it into practice. Kuhl and Rapelyea phrased their advice on this appropriately for their audience. “At least one quality post should be released per day,” they wrote. “Posts garner more followers and keep you connected to your audience. If there is no continuous, relevant content being posted, followers’ attention may wane.”
Simplify your language when you post. Make sure the vote you use is true to yourself and your brand… but also accessible to your visitors.
Be realistic, too. If social media management is not the best use of your time, hire someone like Haden Interactive to take care of it for you.