September 24th, 2012
Recently I had the opportunity to discuss social media strategy with a plastic surgeon who has had a rather lucrative and exciting career. During the conversation there was a lot of discussion about wanting to post content and articles surrounding some of the milestones in his career. While I agreed that these details were valuable and showed the doctor’s expertise, I warned that sharing content and information that was several years old may not be as appealing to his audience. The solution? The Facebook Timeline Milestone feature.
We highlighted this feature briefly when we posted “Everything You Need To Know About Facebook Timeline for Pages,” using “The Today Show” as an example; they generated a number of milestone posts to showcase the feature during the big reveal of Facebook Timeline for Pages earlier this year. Milestones can highlight a significant event in your practice or career history, which can include not only a date and description, but a large photo to accommodate it.
By using Milestones you can showcase your growth and achievements, as well as those of your practice. You are able to do so in a way that will not annoy “friends” (who may already be familiar with your history), while providing exciting new insight to users who are unfamiliar with it.
Creating a Milestone
Milestones are simple enough to create and can be accessed directly from the status update box. To create a Milestone click on “Event, Milestone, +” in the upper right corner of your status update, and select “Milestone” from the drop down. You will then be presented with the following window where you will be able to fill in the information about your milestone.
- Use photos. Milestones are much more effective with photos, but it’s important to make sure you use high quality scans or digital images to showcase the occasion. Milestones appear much larger in your timeline and therefore will need to be of larger images at a higher resolution so that they are visually appealing.
- Be a storyteller. When adding a description to your Milestones you want to keep it short and interesting. Try your best to capture the moment in your description.
- Start at the beginning. Create a Milestone for the year you began your career/practice and in the description, encourage users to browse your timeline for news and Milestones from throughout your practice history.
Though greatly underutilized, Milestones are a great way to tell the story of your practice from the beginning. If you need help with your social media presence and overall strategy, be sure to check out our social media programs for more information.
September 18th, 2012
You’ve been told you need to blog. And not only do you need to blog, but it needs to be interesting, sharable, AND on a consistent basis! You’re tired of hearing it. You sweat over it, procrastinate, and make excuses. You may be thinking: How am I supposed to come up with so many things to write about that haven’t already been addressed by other physicians?
The following tips can help this task seem a little less painful, generate a few ideas, and get you excited about blogging.
1) Take Notes
One big struggle that marketers have is getting clients to understand that their blog or website is not purely an online entity. The biggest successes occur when the offline and online work together in harmony. Therefore, the main goal of enhancing your online presence should be to reflect who you are offline. An easy way to do this is via your blog. Think of all the notes that you take during consultations, post-operative appointments, and during phone calls with patients. Do you find that patients ask a particular question all the time? Use that and turn it into a post! Your patients will love that you’re taking the time to answer their questions, and likely return to your blog for the valuable information that you’re providing.
2) Your Opinion Matters
Patients come to you for advice. In other words, they want your opinion and professional insight. So you should feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on news topics, pop culture surgery trends, new plastic surgery products introduced to the market, the types of medications your prefer to prescribe post-surgery, the brand of breast implant you typically prefer to use, etc. Again, it’s simple: Patients want to know your opinion on the topics that matter to them. If they see that your thoughts and opinions align with their own, it’s likely that they will feel more comfortable calling you their surgeon.
3) Nice To Meet You
What do you talk about to people at parties when they ask what it’s like to be a plastic surgeon? Patients want to get to know you, and form a close relationship in order to feel comfortable trusting you. Think about what you would tell your friends’ wives at a dinner party or members of your Chamber of Commerce. Imagine that conversation in your head and transcribe it.
4) Make it Juicy
For the sake of those reading your blog, avoid boring procedural content. The word “procedure” by nature is cold, calculated, objective, and frankly…dry. Your readers want juicy content! The posts on your blog that are boring and procedural probably are not half as successful as the more in-depth, less technical, and unique posts are. Think less “Beverly Hills Breast Augmentation Surgery” and more “Cartoon Characters Speculated to Have Gone Under the Knife”. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
5) Let’s Get Together
As a doctor, it’s safe to say you probably have a few other doctor friends. Consider guest blogging on their website and/or invite them to post on yours. Have a staff member interview the two of you talking about the work you do, trends in your specific niche, or thoughts you share with a respected colleague. Again, remembering to connect the offline with online will make a world of difference. Is there a conversation you had with a colleague or staff member recently that you wish other people were eavesdropping on? Write about it!
6) Thumbs Up
Recommendations: Do you have a certain brand of scalpels, scrubs company, or surgical equipment provider that you love? Pay it forward! Review them, rave about them, tell everyone how much you value their product or service on your blog. It doesn’t necessarily have to be medical-related, either. Is there a sandwich shop down the street that you and your staff frequent? Your patients and potential patients will learn about the caliber of product you use, see the things that interest you, see your passion, gain insight to your practice culture, and the company or business will appreciate it more than you know. As a thank you, it is likely they will link back to your article from their website: win- win- win- win -win- win! BONUS: if your patients see you’re willing to review others, they might be more willing to review you.
Write about what you like to read in your spare time. List three to five things you’ve been reading, whether they’re online articles that you’ve found interesting or helpful, or a book that you like to read before bed. Don’t forget to talk about why you’re enjoying reading it. Bonus points if it’s something interesting that can help convey who you are. Again, the subject matter does not have to be about medicine/surgery/aesthetics. It can be an article from a fishing magazine! Unfortunately, surgeons can be stereotyped to be cold and heartless, so imagine potential patients researching you and finding out that you are a real person with genuine interests. BONUS: Help readers get to know your staff as well! Have them submit one thing they’ve been reading or something they’ve got bookmarked, and include a sentence or two from them about it.
All in all, blogging doesn’t have to be as painful as you may think. I hope you’ve gotten some actionable tips and thought up a few ideas you might like to write about. This is your profession — your passion. You eat, breathe, and sleep medicine. Who better to write about it? The next step is to write about it. Don’t forget to leverage your efforts to get the most out of your blog posts by promoting them on your social networks. For even more information on best practices when it comes to blogging, refer to the blogging category of the Plastic Surgery Studios blog.
August 1st, 2012
Hashtags — they’re everywhere these days. On your television, on your favorite social networks, and on your event flyers. But what are they? And, how can you use them effectively?
What Are Hashtags?
Hashtags are keywords or topics prefixed by the # symbol. The tags gained their popularity in the early days of Twitter when users began using them as a means of organizing topical messages. Thanks to its popularity it became a core element of the Twitter service and was adopted by many other social networks and services.
The first high-profile use of the hashtag was by San Diego, California resident Nate Ritter, who included #sandiegofire in his regular updates about the October 2007 San Diego County wildfires. It has since been used in other high-profile events such as the Occupy movement (#OccupyWallStreet), and most recently during updates from the Aurora Colorado Dark Knight massacre (#TheaterShooting).
What Do Hashtags Do?
A hashtag connects the conversations from various users into a single stream, which you can find by searching the hashtag in Twitter Search. This allows for users who are not otherwise connected to communicate about a topic that interests them using a specific hashtag. Oftentimes hashtags can become trending topics if they are being used to the point that they become a “trend” on Twitter.
Hashtags are perhaps best for centralizing conversations around live, in-the-moment events or occurences.
Using Hashtags Effectively
To effectively use hashtags its important to use them sparingly and respectfully. Hashtags can provide useful context to a tweet, but they don’t have to be used for every word you feel is important. Used excessively it can be an annoyance and appears spammy to some users and ultimately result in users unfollowing you.
Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags in a tweet, and a recent infographic from Social Caffeine suggests that tweets which include more than two hashtags see a 17 percent decrease in engagement.
Some popular uses of hashtags:
- Events or Conferences, e.g.: “Did you miss us at #ASAPS2012? Check out our photo gallery from this years Aesthetic Meeting http://ow.ly/aPCvh”
- Disasters: “#sandiegofire 300,000 peo-ple evacuated in San Diego county now.”
- Memes: “#MentionSomethingAboutYourself I’m addicted to ice tea”
- Context: “#twittertip – Occasionally check your DM’s to make sure you aren’t spamming. Seeing a lot of hacked accounts from docs sending us stuff.”
- Topical: “Thinking of getting your practice involved with Pinterest? Here are 6 inspiring ways it can be used in healthcare http://ow.ly/b6zzT #hcsm” #hcsm is the hashtag for healthcare social media that is widely used for tweets on the topic.
Don’t Abuse Hashtags
The key to using hashtags effectively is that they need to provide value to the tweet. More often than not I am seeing doctors cram as many hashtags into their tweet as possible thinking it will gain them more exposure, similar to the keyword stuffing you would see on websites in the early days of SEO. For instance I came across the following tweet this morning, “A new photoset has been added by take a look at http://lyb.com/s/dcQ #cosmeticsurgery #boobjob #breastaugmentation #breastenhancement” How does this add value to the tweet? Not only does it clutter the tweet it tries too hard to show up in additional searches on Twitter.
According to Twitter the following behaviors could cause your account to be filtered from search, or even suspended:
- Adding one or more topic/hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search
- Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher
- Tweeting about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising
- Listing the trending topics in combination with a request to be followed
- Tweeting about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated
Hashtags can be a great tool if used properly, but when used excessively they can hinder your efforts. The key is to ensure your hashtags are either adding value to your tweet or you know they are something already being sought on Twitter. Cramming your tweet with pointless hashtags in hopes of greater exposure won’t help you or your twitter followers. Don’t do it!
June 27th, 2012
I watched a video recently from Matthew Ray Scott, the creative director and founder of FEED The Agency. In it he outlined six wrong questions physicians ask about social media. It was a great video that took a look at some of the common questions doctors ask about social media and turned them into the right questions doctors should be asking about social media. With that in mind I wanted to revisit some of the questions he discussed and expand on them a bit with actionable items doctors can take away from the questions.
How Do I Get More Followers?
This is a very common question from doctors, but as Scott points out a better question is: “How do we get people to take action?”
We recently talked about social media metrics that matter, and by using these metrics you can gain a better understanding of how people are engaging with your practice via social media and ultimately finding new ways to connect with your audience. Using this you can better understand your audience and tailor your efforts to help users take action based on the goals you’ve set for your social media efforts.
How Can We Use Social Media and Be Compliant?
When it comes to social media, HIPAA, and other board compliances, many believe it becomes a slippery slope. But as Scott points out the better question is: “How can we develop compelling compliant stories?” Doctors have been dealing with compliance issues since they first staked their claim on the Web. Though the platforms have changed slightly, the rules haven’t. You want your content to be relatable so that it resonates with patients and prospective patients, but more importantly you want to make sure your content is unbiased, current, and doesn’t risk revealing the identity of a patient.
How Can We Sell More Using Social Media?
Many doctors still view social media as a one-way marketing channel, when in reality it’s a communication channel. The better question according to Scott is: “How can we use social media so our patients, know, like and trust us?” As he points out in his video, most doctors are pushing the same promotional garbage through social channels. They spend the bulk of their time selling to patients and less time establishing themselves as experts in their field.
You can achieve this by simply using these platforms to share your passion – to share your expertise. There is always something in the news about health or medicine that I’m sure you have an opinion or insight on. Share your insight and your expertise with your followers. Use social media as an educational platform to help empower your patients and in return they will get to know you better as a physician and ultimately trust you more because they recognize that you are connected with the medical community and its current happenings.
We’ve Already Got a Website…Why Do We Need Social Media?
These days you can’t ask why we need it. The writing is on the wall; social has become an integral part of an online presence. The better question, as Scott points out is: “How do we integrate social media into our website?”
One of the biggest issues I see with doctors is that they treat social media properties like separate entities. Oftentimes they are active on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, but they have no mention of these elements on their website. Additionally, they don’t give people a means of sharing their content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the variety of other social media sites. To get the most out of social media it’s crucial to give patients a means of connecting with you on these networks via your website, and just as important to give them a means of sharing your content if they enjoy it. This can help not only to create brand awareness and build your reputation, but also help with your SEO efforts.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. That being said there is always an opportunity to better formulate the question to come to a more concise answer.
- As a doctor the questions you ask about social media should be aimed at finding ways to establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field.
- In medical social media some of the best questions relate to how you can build relationships with your patients and create an environment where they are open to communicating with you as a trusted resource.
- Social media should be integrated into everything you do both online and offline to ensure that your message and your brand is spreading as far as possible.
June 25th, 2012
We’ve spent a lot of time recently, internally as well as with doctors, discussing actionable metrics. In our April newsletter we outlined three important Internet marketing metrics many doctors ignore. That content focused primarily on website metrics, so I thought I would spend some time this month tackling meaningful social media metrics.
One of the most common questions I get from doctors regarding social media is: “How do I get more people to follow me?” This is a good question, but oftentimes it comes up because it’s the only quantitative metric that doctors understand. Many attribute a high number of followers to social media success. The problem with using social media followers as a core metric is that it’s a metric that doesn’t offer a lot of value or insight into the success of what you are doing. What good are 2,000 followers if none of them are interested or engaging in your content? But if you can’t use followers as a core metric, what should you be focusing on?
Actionable Facebook Metrics
Facebook Insights offers a wealth of information related to the content you share and your page as a whole. Each metric provides insight into how fans are engaging your page and your content allowing you to fine-tune your strategy and produce content that matters to your followers.
Perhaps one of the most meaningful metrics on Facebook is engagement. You can measure engagement through the “Talking About This” metric in Facebook Insights. Engagement is important because it not only lets you know what sort of content resonates with people who “like” your page, but it will help improve your Facebook EdgeRank. EdgeRank is an algorithm utilized by Facebook to determine if your content is worth showing to its users based on their past interactions with your content and a variety of other factors. Pay attention to the types of content people are engaging with most. What sort of content is creating likes, comments, and shares? These metrics are valuable in identifying the kinds of content that resonate best with your audience. By identifying this you can work to produce similar content in the future.
Reach is the measure of individual Facebook users that saw your post. These numbers include people who saw it on your page, via a Facebook ad, or even via a share. When looking at reach its important to focus less on the number and more on the growth. Are you seeing growth in your reach? If not what can you do to improve it? Again, analysis of the content performing best can give you insight into some of the things you are doing right. Analysis of content that is performing lower can provide details on what you may be doing wrong. The end goal is to use this data to improve your overall reach.
Actionable Twitter Metrics
When analyzing Twitter metrics it takes a little bit more effort. Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not currently offer any sort of tracking tools like Facebook. To analyze your successes on Twitter you need to evaluate your gains manually or utilize third party tools that will give you deeper insights.
A great way to tell if people enjoy your content is by measuring the number of retweets you get. Are people sharing your content? This is a key indicator that you are an influencer and people like what you are sharing. This can give insight into the kind of content to publish that resonates with your audience.
This is a great way to measure how many people are talking about your or your practice. Furthermore mentions can help you measure the sentiment of your audience. Are people talking about you positively or are you getting some negative attention via Twitter. This data can be used to see if people are actually talking about you, or simply ignoring your Twitter presence.
If you want a deeper analysis of Twitter there are a number of free and paid tools available that offer various metrics tracking capabilities. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Hootsuite – Hootsuite has a great built-in analytics toolset that can give you reports on a number of metrics including follower growth, mentions by influencers, and most popular links you shared.
- Twitalyzer – Twitalyzer offers a unique set of metrics based on the last month of activity from a user. With Twitalyzer you can measure engagement, influence, and signal to noise ratio.
- TweetStats – Though TweetStats hones in more on your tweet frequency, it can give you nice insights into who retweets your content most and who you retweet the most.
- If you are obsessing over the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, you are obsessing over a metric that simply isn’t going to deliver on your bottom line.
Engagement should be your top goal in medical practice social networking. People sharing your content and interacting with your content helps create brand awareness and also helps build relationships with potential patients.