Organic Social Networks
When social media burst onto the scene nearly two decades ago, marketers and healthcare professionals were overly excited about its potential for healthcare marketing.
Who could blame them? The fantasy was great.
“All I have to do is figure out how to create a free Facebook business page, and then our business will get loads of new patients the next day!” (Everyone loves free patients).
Sadly, the promise of social media fame and easy money far exceeds reality then and now. In our experience, while organic social media may attract some new patients, it rarely attracts many. Also, while some people call organic social media “free,” because you don’t pay money directly to a social media platform,Organic social media involves a lot of hard work.
That being said, several “medinfluencers” have experienced tremendous success leveraging organic social media strategies, including
- Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper (@drpimplepopper)
She is a dermatologist who came up with a unique and memorable concept. The combination of her natural beauty, content of her that she can’t stop staring at, and good-natured nature of her have made her a hit with her combined 29.5 million followers.
- Dr. Mikhail Varshavski aka Doctor Mike (@doctor.mike)
He is a family medicine physician with a combined social media following of more than 21 million people. She uses his skill, knowledge and good looks to create viral TikTok and Instagram videos to inspire change in the younger population and combat the spread of misinformation online.
- Dr Zachary Rubin (@rubin_allergy)
He is a pediatric allergist/immunologist who has grown his TikTok following to 855,000 since the start of the pandemic. He uses humor, bow ties, and a highly relatable personality to bring evidence-based education to the general public in an effort to combat misinformation.
- Dr Eric Topol (@EricTopol)
He is a professor of molecular medicine, executive vice president of Scripps Research, and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. He is also a noted author and speaker on healthcare technology and trends, sharing his insights on emerging technologies with his combined 700,000 followers.
- Dr Kevin Pho (@kevinmd, @kevinphomd, @kevingmdblog
He is a board-certified internal medicine physician, media commentator, public speaker, author, and prominent mediinfluencer with a combined following of more than 290,000 people. He uses his platforms to share medical knowledge and give doctors a voice.
What do these and other rising social media stars have in common?
Most appear to be “naturals” who possess great social media instincts, enjoy the process of gaining a following, have something unique to say, and work very hard to build a following.
Take, for example, Sheila Nazarian, MD, who earned 18,000 followers on TikTok, 36,000 followers on Facebook, and 872,000 followers on Instagram. In addition to sharing medical knowledge online, Dr. Nazarian is a charismatic board-certified plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills who stars in the Netflix original series Skin Decisions, Before & After.
She employs full-time social media employees and a marketing agency to manage her brand reputation, marketing strategy, and social media presence.
If you want to become a social media mediinfluencer, have the right stuff, and are willing to create compelling content every day with no guarantee of success, these best practice recommendations can help you get started.
Be careful though,
- Likes and followers do not necessarily translate into direct revenue and new patients.
- Reaching high-quality followers for free is getting harder and harder.
If you’re like the vast majority of marketers who don’t have the time, budget, skills, or inclination to do what it takes to become social media famous, the principles laid out here can help you build a strong, prioritized presence on social media. social media that attracts some patients down the road.
Assuming that sounds more like you, social media should be part of your marketing plan, but it’s definitely not your only, or even primary, marketing strategy. Either way, let’s get started.
Organic reach is dead
Organic reach has steadily declined over the past decade as the social media giants increasingly impose a pay-to-play model.
If you want to get more visibility, followers, and business opportunities from your social media activity, you basically have two options:
- Have luck with viral organic content
- Pay to promote your posts to a wider audience
Organic reach by social media platform
Think for a moment about what these statistics mean. First, it takes an almost herculean effort for the average practice to gain 1,000 followers on any given social media account. Then it takes creativity and time to develop suitable content to show to fewer than 50 people, most of whom are already patients.
Declining organic reach, combined with the work and skill required to master social media, are the fundamental reasons why most practices fail to attract a significant number of new patients from their organic social media efforts.
However, it is still worth doing. Here are some reasons to spend some time on the tactics that build your organic reach.
- Brand advocacy and loyalty
A social media presence makes it easy for your target audience and patients to find and engage with your brand. It also encourages loyal patients to support and promote your brand.
- patient referrals
Social media profiles on the platforms your patients prefer create an organic opportunity for conversations, leading to more offline referrals.
- patient retention
Engaging with patients on social media helps build trust and credibility, the cornerstones for patient retention.
- community building
Creating an online space where your patients can connect, ask questions, and support each other can help you build a community of loyal patients.
- thought leadership
Leverage social media to share high-quality, medically-accurate blogs, articles, medical research, and emerging technologies. This will position your brand as a leader in your specialty.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Many SEO experts believe that social signals like shares, likes, comments, and followers improve your online visibility and page rank.
- Employee recruitment
Sharing thought leadership pieces, announcements, events, and daily updates helps prospective employees gauge your company culture.
- Humanize your organization
Social media is a unique way to connect with your audience one-on-one and treat them to (curated) behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and stories about the people in your organization.
- Testimonials, case studies, before and after
Leveraging social media to share patient testimonials, case studies, and before and after photos is a great way to increase patient engagement and volume.
This article is a revised excerpt from Chapter 9: How to Make Social Media Work for You in the book, “Cash Pay Health Care: How to Start, Grow, and Perfect Your Business”, written by Mark J. Tager, MD and CEO of Healthcare Success, Stewart Gandolf, MBA. We have updated statistics, information from medinfluencers and other data at all times.
The book and the original version of this text are available in their entirety at Amazon.