Before 2005, almost no one had heard of “social media,” and even fewer knew what that phrase meant. Now there’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and there are new platforms coming up all the time. But the question is: which one is right for your practice?
The answer depends on your demographic mix, how knowledgeable you or your staff are with social media, and how much time you and your staff can dedicate to social media. Still, your patients are using social media and if you don’t reach out them, you risk losing them.
The best social media platform is the one that connects you to the majority of your patients and allows you to easily broadcast useful information to them. So how do choose among the many platforms out there? Below is a list of social media currently available and how you can best utilize them.
Might as well start with the heavyweight. Established by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, it allows users to post messages, photos, videos, and more. How can you use it in your practice? You can create posts that feature new treatments, health tips, updates to your hours of operation, and pictures of staff members and archival photos (without patients). Speaking of photos, do not encourage selfies at your practice. If a patient file with a name, or a patient other than the one taking the selfie is seen in the picture, then there is the potential that you are violating HIPAA.
Speaking of HIPAA and private health information, it is also a good idea to remind staff that the law applies to their personal social media posts. They, too, are not to post selfies at the office or mention anything which could identify individual patients on Facebook or other social media.
Much of what you can do on Facebook, you can also do on Twitter. The main restriction on Twitter is the post length limit of 140 characters. Facebook is more like a community for connected social groups, and Twitter is more like an open conversation about the latest thing.
If you can equate Facebook and Twitter to Happy Hour after work, then Linkedin is the boss’ office. It’s all business on Linkedin. So, this is the platform where you can connect with doctors, vendors and other people in the healthcare field. This is a good place to link to articles that you find interesting. You can also write and post your own articles on Linkedin, as well.
This video sharing site is for more than just cat videos. You can post vlogs (video blogs) about eye health topics or how to videos (how to correctly put drops in your eye, how to properly care for contacts, etc.) The beauty of YouTube videos is that they can be shared on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin to reach more people. You can even use YouTube to take some of the stress off your own site’s server. When you upload videos to YouTube and then ’embed’ them in your page, the data demand of showing the video to your viewers is shifted to YouTube instead of your own server.
Pinterest and Snapchat
Pinterest and Snapchat a couple of the newest social media platforms. Pinterest was established in 2010. It allows users to catalog information they find on the Internet, such as images or videos on “pinboards.” Users can browse the collections of others in their network, just as they can on Facebook and Twitter. Snapchat was started in 2011. It is a mobile app that lets you share videos and text, both of which self-destruct a few seconds after being viewed.
Since these are so new, I’m going to open it up to the readers. If your practice is using these social media platforms, how are you using them and what is the feedback from patients?
Social media isn’t just for teens and 20-somethings. You can use it to promote your practice and good eye health.