by Kristen Stuppy, MD, FAAP
Anyone who puts time into something wants that time to be worthwhile. Many of the things we do as pediatricians do not have instant gratification, and we must be patient to see results. Social media is one area that you can quickly see results, which can be very gratifying. It also has the potential to bring in new patients, which is important to any growing practice. My previous articles on Social Media focused on why social media is important to pediatricians and Social Media Policy considerations.
If I’ve managed to convince you to start a Social Media campaign, many people still question how to get started. Facebook is very popular and easy to use. Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and others are also easy to use, but seem less common among my patients. If you aren’t sure what people in your community use, ask. If you write a blog you should have a place to market it (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn and your website). Allow people to sign up for email notifications of your blog if your site allows it. A new interesting marketing tool is Pinterest. Anyone can follow your boards, and you can “pin” any website page you find interesting. It can help you keep collections of good sites for reference as well as showcase your own website or blog pages as appropriate.
It takes just a short time for people to become active on your social media sites if you announce them on your website and with posters around the office. Talk about your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed at visits. Refer to recent news posted and tell the parent to be sure to check it out. Be sure to post relevant information regularly and include updates about your office. At least daily updates give people something to look for. When people know they can use your information as a reliable resource, they will keep coming back for more! Be sure to include all age groups you see in the office. A mix of informational articles, funny pictures, office information, and other things keeps it interesting. Steer away from reposting the same thing day after day. There is a ton of information out there, find the best to share!
Allow people to post questions and pictures, but be clear that they should not request medical advice. There is a difference in a general “can you suggest information on ___” versus “my kid has ___ what should I do?” Avoid giving any diagnosis or information specific to any person. Watch your sites carefully so that inappropriate postings can be either removed or addressed. Be responsive to postings on your sites quickly. Try to comment on or at least “like” comments so people know their words were heard.
Consider adding pictures of your patients with written consent. It is easy to come up with themes (summer: sandals, Dr Seuss birthday: wearing Dr Seuss hats, winter: hats, Halloween: costumes) or just cute pictures. This often encourages new followers to the page because Mom invites a friend to see her little darling’s picture. Kids love it because they’re “famous”.
Offer contests or other incentives for followers. Offer simple gifts for the “xth” “like” or photo contests (really fun at Halloween).
Attempt to engage followers by asking questions or for their views on topics. Parents love to give advice to others!
You won’t always know if people read your posts, since they don’t click “like” or comment on every post. It is important to review your stats on a routine basis to see what your followers read, when they are most likely to be on your site, and what goes viral. Facebook goes viral a lot. If you post great information about vaccines, local health issues, national health issues, etc people will start to read and possibly share. I have several friends who have liked my work Facebook page, and I will sometimes see that they share articles. This allows many more people who aren’t on my page to see whatever I posted. The benefit? Free “advertising” and getting the word out about good health issues. This combats the anti-vaccinators, the fever fears, and all the other bad information out there. Sharing also shows your practice’s page, allowing potential new followers to click on your page.
For ideas of what to post on Facebook (or other sites): “Like” other similar pages.
- One start: https://www.facebook.com/KansasChapterAAP. They post some generic things as well as Kansas specific things.
- Also be sure to like the We Are Pediatricians page, started as a project of the AAP Section on Administration and Practice Management (SOAPM). Posts include things that practices can use as reposts and things interesting to pediatricians.
Other resources that are helpful:
- Register for SmartBriefs Pediatrics (and other specialties, such as Leadership or Nutrition as they interest you). They send emails of pediatric highlights that you can post.
- KevinMD.com is a great resource for all!
- Survivor Pediatrics posts great blogs from pediatricians around the country on topics related to health and the business of medicine.
- Here’s my personal Pinterest Pediatric Groups page. Is your practice on it? I collected the sites to help with others in SOAPM find other practice pages. It’s a fun way to see other websites if you’re interested in what others do.
You will of course also have to post some original stuff, link to your own website, etc, but you will find that if you follow other pages, it takes relatively little time to find great information!
Use a Social Media Scheduling Service like Hootsuite or GrabInBox to schedule postings. These are available free for limited services or for a small fee. They allow pre-scheduling of posts so you can set up several days in advance. Finding a number of great posts at one time and spreading out the postings is preferable to posting all the great posts at the same time. They also allow posting to multiple sites at one time, making it easy to manage several accounts.
Remember that each viewer can potentially repost or retweet. This helps your information go viral, which allows many opportunities for your practice to be seen. Free Advertising!!! If you are having trouble getting started, feel free to contact me (or ask any teen… they’d be happy to get you started!)