Many healthcare providers really miss great opportunities to build brand awareness and authority because they just don't understand "how" to use social media and social marketing to its fullest advantage.
When it comes to social marketing, people tell Maria Todd she is a “Unicorn”. With advanced degrees in health administration, OR nursing experience, mediation and training as a health law paralegal, it’s rare to find and expert also certified by Google in digital marketing tactics and strategies. In this article she’ll share a few tips and pointers in this checklist so you can plan to do better by building a tactical plan for your hospital, practice, surgery center or health service business.
Why Social Marketing?
That’s actually the first question in our checklist.
What do you want to achieve with your existence in social media platforms?
The answer gives purpose to your strategy, informs the tactics and success KPIs and the platforms and campaigns you elect to undertake. Anyone who offers to “do it for you” should be viewed as someone trying to reach into your pocket and taking your money without promising “meaningful” results. Results can include “reach”. But reach on its own is a “so what” metric. If you reach someone one time and never again, what’s the point? Yet I find advertising agencies pitching campaigns to achieve “reach” all the time. I often wonder if they aim for “reach” because it creates a metric that they can put in a silly (and meaningless) outcomes report for you each month so you have something in your hand that’s tangible (the paper it is written on) to get you to write the next month’s check. Did it put revenue in your pocket? Did it grow a new customer? Or did that seed not germinate and sprout?
Selling you a service to “do it for you” to measure “reach” shows how little they know about marketing, branding, advertising and social media or worse, how little respect they have for you. Only you as the business owner can articulate what you want to achieve through social marketing. Once you have listed all the objectives you’d like to achieve with specific success indicator metrics can a marketer with the right combination of experience and training help you design and execute the tactical plan to achieve it.
With Whom Would you Like to Connect and Why?
Many of the marketing and branding articles in my archives focus on persona building and the importance of knowing your customer or target customer.
If you are an orthopedic surgeon who has moved to a new community to start your own practice, you don’t have customers. But you’ll likely have “target” customers.
- What do you know about them?
- Why should they pick you?
- What do they get out of it if they do choose you that they cannot obtain elsewhere?
If you can answer these three magic questions, an experienced and well-trained healthcare marketer can suggest where to invest effort, time and budget on your social marketing tactics for your practice.
Are Your Target Personas on the Platforms You Chose?
Each social platform has a different “ilk”, a different rhythm, a different way and reason that each participant uses the select platform to consume content. Are your posts in alignment with their consumption trends?
You must learn the advantages and best uses for each platform or trust someone who knows this and can help you.
Lots of articles address the topic of repurposing content. One reason to repurpose and reengineer a single piece of content is “efficiency.” Write one piece and present it to 10 different target personas in different ways:
- As an article.
- As a video.
- As a checklist.
- As a podcast.
- As an infographic.
- With emphasis on different parts of the article.
- With benefit to and resonance with following audience segments:
- a younger audience
- an older audience
- self-insured/self-funded employers
- case managers
- patient advocates
- sports enthusiasts
- artists and performers
- Baby Boomers
- uninsured and underinsured people with certain chronic health conditions
- people who may need a loan to buy from you
- people seeking a cheaper solution
- affluent people who read subscribe to the Robb Report and Wine Spectator and Architectural Digest, etc.
When I notice healthcare businesses that post the same identical content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I tend to shake my head and hear in my mind’s ear the “Another One Bites the Dust” from the band Queen, or the old Morris Albert song, “Feelings” which in my mind, I switch the lyrics to “Clueless, nothing more than clueless”… The poor dears either don’t know or got taken advantage of if they paid someone to do this for them.
Backlinks are important for SEO because some search engines, especially Google, will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks, and consider those websites more relevant than others in their results pages for a search query. If you don’t know what SEO and SERP are, this article is way beyond your current level of knowledge and preparation. You either need a coach or a tutor or to spend time reading about how online marketing is used. Don’t feel badly though.
Many advertising agencies who specialized in print who found themselves obsolete often add “digital” to their menu and they don’t get it either. Otherwise, we’d have to assume nefarious intention instead of ignorance. You’re the customer, you’re allowed to be ignorant. You pay people to transfer the knowledge you need to you so that you can make better decisions. Right now, I am going through an ASC website with more than 250 pages of content that were created by one of those marketing firms. To market an anterior hip replacement surgery, they centered the article on the features of a Hana® Table as if the patient gives a sh…rip.
Where you elect to place backlinks depends on what you want to achieve and with which audience segment: People or bots?
And be careful about purchasing backlinks through some freelancer as many backlinks they sell are on “link farms” that are viewed as low quality, spam level, toxic links that will demolish your SEO and drop your SERP positioning simply because you are listed on them.
Be where your customers are
When you have a limited marketing budget, it’s important that you spend it wisely to get the most for your money. Fish where the fish swim that you want to catch and that are hungry for what you are using as bait.
Marketing through social media is one of the most versatile and cost-effective strategies that small businesses can use to reach their target audience and boost sales over time. But only if you are effective. That metric is a proof metric. How will you define effectiveness and call it successful?
I start with a simple formula. Can I quantify $1 over total spend? Then the marketing was free. Was it effective? How effective? What can you quantify in dollars or opportunities?
What’s total spend? Start with what you pay for the marketing consultant or coach. Next add the total cost of your website – hosting, themes, graphics, templates, plugins. programming, design, licenses, domain registration, and more. Next, add in labor to create posts, post them, and measure analytics. Did you buy paid advertising (FB Boosts, Google AdWords, public relations specialists, etc.) What’d you get? Better yet, what did you get that you were going after? What did you get that you didn’t want? How can you improve?
Are You a Best Kept Secret?
While you may be a legend in your own mind, to build a brand, you must be “known” for something special and unique.
- What is so special about you and what you do and why you do it?
- Are you an authority about something?
- What can you “claim” and what can you “prove”?
- I have proven client results and references to share
For example, I can claim authority about healthcare business management.
I prove my authority in the following ways:
- as a published author of 19 commercially published books and two more under contract, marketed by a renown international life sciences publisher;
- as a world renowned speaker and trainer with over 2600 international speaker appearances, seminars, workshops, webinars and Master Classes to my credit with a 4.95 participating rating average over 32 years on “stage”
- as a world healthcare business influencer with over 36,000 followers across numerous social channels
You don’t need all the same credits. But you need “something” to claim and prove authority. If you don’t claim and prove your authority you won’t be recognized. And without recognition, you cannot stand out for your authority.
You can purchase publicity through public relations professionals. But you need a budget for that and you need the authority already established so that the PR experts know whom to pitch to get you interviews and media play. They can’t just call contacts on their contact list and say “he’s a great doctor”, “it’s a tiny nondescript hospital or ASC in [name your location]” because they know that’s the last call that will be answered.
So many medical tourism hopefuls miss this point. They expect to find marketing representatives who will send them referrals. That’s an impossible ask without proper vetting, but they refuse to invite prospective marketing agents to inspect their clinics, review their credentials and reputation and simply send out “send me patients for a X% cut of my fees.” That approach does not work. I know this for a fact after 35+ years in the medical tourism industry. (And it is also illegal in several countries!)
But then again, the marketing agents are also clueless or they would not agree to take those commissioned assignments on contingency. Sure it sounds great to get 15%-30% commissions on a $30,000 sale just for a few minutes of conversation and scheduling an appointment. The marketing agents try for 18-36 months and then give up. Surprise. There’s more to marketing than they were led to believe. In the end, the doctor, the hospital and the agent all lose time, effort and money. A pity. But ignorance is expensive! Far more expensive than paying an expert for insight, knowledge transfer and results.