How to Use Social Media Wisely- Avoid These Known Pitfalls

By John Christly, CISO at Netsurion

2016 Alliance sponsor article courtesy of MedMal Direct Insurance Company

It’s virtually impossible to stay away from social media in today’s digitally connected world. Most people use social media for their own personal use to stay in touch with family and friends, but for those of us who have an important business message to share, why not take advantage of this great tool that has the potential to reach thousands and millions of people simultaneously?

Many professionals avoid social media for fear of ruining their reputation; saying the wrong thing, opening their business up to very public criticism, not knowing what to post…. these are all common concerns. It is a personal business choice to make, however, if done properly, social media and engagement can bring positive results . There are two things to keep in mind: what information should I publish on each social media platform? And how should I use these tools wisely and safely?

There are too many platforms, which one should I use?

I recommend that the majority of businesses stick to the most popular and proven platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter and a Facebook Like Page. I have noticed many physicians’ offices are now using Instagram– but that’s a very visually-focused tool that you may want to conquer after you have mastered the first three and are comfortable communicating with your followers. The audiences for LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will be different, hence the content you publish should be as well.

  • LinkedInKeep it professional. Use it as your online resume for patients and future patients to be able to see your credentials, years of experience and recommendations.
  • TwitterTalk about current events. Share articles that may inform the audience on what you do. Share health tips and the latest research and news in healthcare. And make sure you interact if they reach out to you.
  • Facebook Like Page – Information about your practice or yourself. This can be the place where patients go to find your office hours and contact information. Many also use Facebook to give you reviews. Having a page with positive reviews will help your online reputation. Feel free to also share articles about your practice as well as health tips here too.

Tell me the Do’s and Don’ts of using social media!

  • Do post valuable information that patients and future patients will benefit from. For example, health tips, recent medicinal research, current events, success stories, etc.
  • Do interact with your audience. Even if it’s a negative comment, follow up and make sure they know you are taking care of the situation. Take it offline if it is something private.
  • Do share information on healthcare events or fundraisers you and/or the hospital/practice will attend and want to promote.
  • Do share contact information, office hours and the easiest ways to book an appointment.
  • Don’t publish about last Friday’s happy hour with your colleagues and/or friends—or any inappropriate personal details.
  • Don’t negatively reply to a patient’s negative review.
  • Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar before posting anything online!
  • Don’t publish any patient information whether it is positive or negative without their written consent.

Why do I need to be on social media? I am a doctor, not a celebrity.

Patients will now do all the research they can before calling to make an appointment. When a patient types a doctor’s name on a Google search, they want to see that the doctor has the right credentials, of course, but just as important, they want to see that other patients are happy and have left great reviews. This gives the potential future patient a sense that the doctor is trustworthy and credible. Word of mouth always tends to be a deciding factor when people make choices of where to go and/or what to purchase. And thanks to today’s technology, social media makes it much easier for people to gather others’ opinions and conduct thorough research.

With that said, scout online reviews!

It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of your line of work. However, as mentioned above, people will search doctors’ named for insight from previous patients. These reviews may not be on your social sites but on third party websites. There are numerous websites that exist just to gather and display doctors’ ratings. Take a look at what patients are saying there! There may be bad reviews, but that’s no reason to be up in arms and respond negatively on a whim. In fact, these reviews can be used to as learning tools for both you and your practice as a whole. Maybe you are not aware of the long wait to make an appointment or the staff’s friendliness at the front desk. These are issues that can be fixed—and that you may not have heard about without these ratings tools.

Okay, I’m convinced. I’ll try out social media. But wait, how do I protect my online presence?

  • Make sure you are constantly reviewing your platforms and activity. You will want to reply to any questions/comments on your accounts.
  • Create strong passwords consisting of numbers, symbols, lowercase and uppercase letters. And make sure you are not using the same password for all social media accounts.
  • Do not openly share these passwords with anyone. If you have someone administering your accounts, make sure it is someone you undoubtedly trust. If the person no longer works for you, update all of the passwords as soon as they leave.
  • Be careful with private messages or links sent by users you don’t know. Phishing can happen on social media too. There are fake accounts that will send you what seems like a legitimate message with a link that may contain malware. If you do not know the person, or if the user has no profile photo and no activity on their account, chances are they are sending you a link with malware. Do not click on it!

I hope these tips help you get out there and create/update your social media presence. Social media is essential in maintaining all types of businesses today, but you should be careful and never take it lightly. If used correctly, social media can open doors to more customers and growth opportunities, make you and your practice more recognizable and easily found by others, and improve or solidify your reputation. Are you ready? Now go socialize!

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