Social Media Perceptions

By Eric Kelley, Patient Affairs/Marketing Director, ClearlyMD.

If you are involved with the promotion of your practice, it is likely that you are bombarded with e-mails about using social media as a method of promotion.  Your topic lines may be saturated with buzzwords such as “content management” and “online reputation.”  What are some of the bottom line techniques you can use to cut through the endless theory?

INVOLVE YOUR EMPLOYEES.  ClearlyMD has successfully launched and maintained Facebook fan pages for two major practices in the Memphis area.  One of my key steps was to send personal friend requests to numerous staff members in advance of the launch.  If the staff members are on board with the effort, they will help to promote it.  And how does that work?

A LAUNCH CAMPAIGN.  We launched the Facebook page for Memphis OB/GYN Association (MOGA) around 7:00 pm on a weeknight.  A few minutes later, I began the “100 fans by midnight” campaign.  I began promoting the new page on my personal page.  Since most of the staff members were now my friends, they saw the announcement, “liked” the page, and began announcing it themselves.  About every thirty minutes, I would make a subsequent announcement on both my personal page and the MOGA page.  The wording and pictures would vary, but I usually gave an update on how many fans we had accrued.  While some would label this technique as similar to “spamming,” I can attest that we had no negative feedback and were successful in the effort.  We finished the evening with 116 fans.

PERSONALIZATION.  Over the past three years, we have done numerous forms of posting, including:

  • Random Questions (Example:  It’s Tuesday.  Tell us if your baby was delivered on a Tuesday!)
  • Employee Spotlights with a photo.  (Example:  Has Lisa made a difference in your life?  Tell us about it!)
  • Individual Physician Spotlights with a photo
  • Pictures from Employee Baby Showers
  • Pictures from Employee/Physician Birthday Parties
  • Patient Education Material/Articles
  • Announcements about Community Events the Practice is Sponsoring
  • Pictures from Community Events the Practice has Sponsored

After three years of posting and observing, it has become obvious that patients are most interested in posts which “humanize” the practice.  Posts which spotlight a physician are by far the most popular, followed by posts which spotlight an employee.  Posts which promote community events would rank next.  Patients are excited to see that the practice is involved with the community, and organizers of the events are extremely appreciative of the additional publicity.  Ironically, educational posts have gotten very little interaction or response.  While our patients are very interested in this information when they visit the office, they have little interest in discussing it openly on a social media platform.

FREQUENCY.  While I was trained in the theory of moderation on social media, I have not found it to necessarily be the most effective approach.  In managing the page for Memphis OB/GYN Association (MOGA), we have had success with a strategy of one to three posts per day on a typical day.  Evening posts appear to get much more visibility than morning posts, but you may reach a somewhat different audience during each time segment.  Weekends appear to be a good time for posting as well.

PROBLEM RESOLUTION.  Inevitably, a patient within your practice will openly post a complaint.  The natural tendency is to delete it.  Unless the comment is inappropriate or violates another patient’s privacy, however, it should remain on the page as part of your “open book” approach.  The key is to move the patient’s discussion offline as quickly as possible.  Your visible online response should be something like:  “Thanks you for sharing your concern.  We will be contacting you by phone [or e-mail] to discuss this further.”  This shows the other fans of your page that
1.  Complaints are not ignored, but
2.  You do not encourage online discussion as the appropriate venue.

With a little practice and commitment of time, you can utilize social media as an effective tool for promoting your practice.

For more information on these techniques, or to ask any specific questions, feel free to contact me at (901) 255-5229 or