Should Your Doctor Be On Social Media?

Read Time: 7 minutes

Social media has been part of people’s lives for more than 10 years. Many new physicians grew up using Twitter and Facebook to vent frustrations in medical school. Continuing to use social media as a newly minted physician has opened the lines of communication. The AMA’s Code of Ethics warns about being cognizant of patient privacy and to recognize the boundaries of physician-patient relationships but more doctors are using social media every day.

viralMD digital healthcare marketing 4 Big Advantages Of Social Media For Doctors & Hospitals

How social media is changing business

Social media has evolved from a pastime to a crucial tool for growing a business. Over 3.5 billion users log in to social media channels every month. While more than 50% of the US population logs into one of the social media platforms daily, many check multiple channels numerous times a day. This tool can be a great way to reach potential patients. However, many people don’t understand how to leverage social media for a physician’s practice or a hospital. With the help of a digital marketing expert, social media can offer some significant advantages.

Choosing many platforms

The mistake many businesses make is to use only one social media platform.  Depending on the demographic, using multiple platforms is typically the best way to reach the ideal patient.  Some platforms like Instagram allow for cross-posting.  One post can simultaneously be sent to Facebook and Twitter.  TikTok highly encourages posting to other platforms including Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram stories.  The easy access to sharing is responsible for the tremendous growth of the TikTok app which is the #1 most downloaded app in the world, surpassing Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

How TikTok is changing lives

The demographics of each social media platform vary significantly but one of the fastest-growing social platforms is TikTok with over 1.5 billion downloads worldwide. TikTok is significant in the medical community because of the educational push with #tiktokdoc. Many doctors are using this platform to help teach the community about everything from anatomy to sex education to general health.

    1. Making healthcare accessible

      Social media is a powerful tool to meet patients where a patient is comfortable. While most people don’t necessarily directly connect the decision to make an appointment with a specific social media post, a strong online presence creates an overall impression that can tip the scales. A doctor who is online is a doctor who is present for patients. An effective social media campaign is also one of the fastest ways to build a physician’s brand awareness. Physicians that provide educational messages on social media create trust with consumers.

    2. Improving patient relations

      When a physician shows involvement and engagement in the community, patients feel more comfortable. Building comfort through community involvement and being accessible, as mentioned above, is an advantage of social media. Developing an online presence helps establish a physician as a trusted voice in healthcare and the community. This makes patients more comfortable and starts building rapport before a person even makes that first appointment.

    3. More reviews and better reputation management

      Over 80% of patients report that reading reviews is a crucial step for finding a new physician. This is true for older patients as well: 9 out of 10 patients aged 60 and older report avoiding providers who have negative online reviews. Doctors and hospitals, unlike restaurants typically don’t get a lot of reviews. There are numerous rating companies such as Vitals, Healthgrades and ZocDoc but the ratings are often skewed because of the lack of sample size. Physicians who have an online presence can boost the practice’s reputation with patient testimonials and comments via social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Twitter.

    4. Creating interaction through education

      As the name implies, social media is a tool to socialize and create connections. Educational medical posts are the perfect place for posting about health awareness dates, as well as sharing research, seminars and other patient education. Social media, by nature, is an interactive tool and can help patients actively engage in the patient-provider relationship.

When is a post enough?

If a doctor or hospital has new accounts, the number of followers a social media account has, regardless of the platform, will grow very slowly. A post could be life-changing but will be ineffective if no one sees the information. Follow other similar accounts and engage with those posts. Leave comments on similar accounts and spend a lot of time liking other posts. Understanding the right hashtags will help the right people find the information being provided.

How to grow a social media platform quickly

The easiest method to grow is to provide an incentive for patients, employees, staff or vendors to follow. Have contests related to weight loss or something fun like an ugly sweater contest so that patients will want to follow.  Another effective method is to have a hashtag campaign or repost/retweet contest with customer hashtags.

Business accounts vs personal accounts

Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram all have separate business and personal accounts. Twitter, TikTok and Byte only have one type of account. There are many advantages to having business profiles. There are also numerous advantages to having large followings. A TikTok following of 1k+ will allow live postings and an Instagram following of 10k+ will allow swipe up features for links in Instagram stories. In most cases, having a business account is the best choice even for a solo physician. There are a few drawbacks, for example on both LinkedIn and Facebook business pages and follow other pages.

Grow your practice by increasing your digital visibility

A strong web presence has a direct impact on the growth of a practice or hospital. Patients are finding healthcare providers online and social media is a crucial touchpoint for attracting new patients. Learn more about what digital marketing and social media can do in the healthcare. Many doctors have become so successful on various social media platforms, that social media provides supplemental income as well as reaching thousands of people in need of information.