Why Social Media Is Worth It For Most Doctors

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been told many times over that you need to be on social networking and content sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Quora, and Pinterest.  With nearly a billion users on Facebook, hundreds of millions on Twitter, and over 8 years worth of video being uploaded to Youtube every single day, there’s no question that the world is connecting through these channels.

But as a professional, is blogging, tweeting, uploading videos to youtube, answering questions on Quora, or posting pictures on Pinterest a good use of your time?  Can social media be used to grow your brand and your practice, or is it just a way to socialize, procrastinate, and enjoy a few laughs?

While there are certainly those who view social media as a novelty or passing fad, the reality is that social media is no longer just about connecting with friends or uploading pictures of your recent trip to Italy.  Social media is becoming a place where people go to get real information.  It can allow you to build a relationship with existing patients, connect with other professionals, and build your brand.  A strong social media presence can make you a go-to source of information, which can translate into new patients and more revenue.

While Not Immediately Measurable, Social Media Can Offer A Significant ROI

Some critics have criticized social media marketing for not having a return on investment.  While the ROI of social media may not always be immediately measurable, physicians who dedicate themselves to providing interesting, useful, and timely information through social media will almost certainly see a tangible benefit down the line.

While it’s certainly possible for doctors to make tweets or blog posts that have no immediate impact on their bottom line, it’s been proven over and over again that offering interesting, valuable, and helpful insight through social media and building an audience will result in new patients.  While this ROI may not be measurable over a day, a week, or even months, it can certainly result in significant growth and revenue over time.

While some short-sighted pundits may ask “why should I get involved in social media if I can’t measure the ROI?” – to quote Gary Vaynerchuck – “what’s the ROI of your mother”?   Gary Vaynerchuck is one of the leading experts on social media and deservedly so – he grew his family’s $3 million dollar discount liquor business into a $60 million dollar juggernaut largely through social media involvement.

The point Gary Vaynerchuck makes through this famous quote is that – just as a mother’s love and attention may not have an immediate impact on a child’s success over a day, a week, or even months, sending out a few tweets or throwing up a Facebook page won’t have an immediate benefit to your bottom line.  Yet, there’s no question that unconditional attention, dedication, and care will have a massive impact down the road.  Even if the ROI of social media can’t be measured directly, plenty of doctors have experienced significant growth in their practices by slowly but consistently building their audience through consistent involvement in social media.

Even if the effects of Social Media outreach may not always offer a direct, measurable ROI, the long term results of engaging people with thoughtful, helpful dialogue is immeasurable towards the long term growth of your practice and your reputation in the community.

ROI Is Not The Only Benefit Of Social Media For Physicians

While social media marketing can be a great way to grow a practice, for physicians, being involved in social media goes beyond ROI and marketing.  It’s a way to get news quicker than any news outlet, it’s a way to get new perspectives and opinions, it’s a place to open up new dialogue, and it’s a place to share your own knowledge.

For physicians especially, social media goes beyond marketing and attracting new patients.  What is the value of being accessible to your patients?  What’s the value in connecting with colleagues, experts, and sharing your knowledge with the community?

If the reasons above aren’t sufficient to convince you that it’s worth your time as a doctor to get involved in at least one social media channel, here is a quick summary of some of the ways social media can benefit physicians:

  • More visibility on search engines
  • Visibility through social networks
  • Communicate with and build up relationships with existing patients and potential patients
  • Doctors can address common questions online and save actual clinic time for more specific concerns.
  • Build an audience and authority which you can leverage to grow your practice and personal brand
  • Keep up to date in your field by following leading experts and exchanging knowledge through social channels

Social Media Is Not A Fad

As with any new technology, there will always be those who dismiss social media as a passing fad or a bubble.  Critics made the same assertions about the internet, e-mail, e-commerce, and blogging.  While you certainly don’t have to be active on every new social media or content sharing website that comes around, at the end of the day, social media is here to stay.  Ignore it at your own peril.

By author Richard Orban. Richard is mostly interested in writing about medical related topics, home improvement and various topics relating to these niches involving business. In this article he’s writing on behalf of Lenses Online, the number one source for lenses online in New Zealand. Follow his occasional rants on twitter @richardorban.

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