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    It’s true. When a person decides to go to medical school to become a doctor and improve the quality of life for others, they likely weren’t thinking about social media tactics for their medical practice. While digital marketing tactics may vary based on the office, staff, and services provided, social media should be a constant. One study showed that 41 percent of health care consumers choose social media to decide on their health care providers.

    Setting up social media for a medical office is as easy as pie, and it’s basically free marketing! Here are four tips to get the most out of your social media efforts.

    1. Create an account

    Just do it! Sounds basic, right? But, taking the first step towards social media can often be the most difficult. Before you start posting, spend some time building your audience by liking and following local businesses, referral sources, partners, and staff profiles and pages. You’ve liked someone’s page on Instagram because they liked yours, right? The same goes for Facebook when adding friends. Be sure to include industry-specific organizations like the American Dental Association (for dental practices) or the American Medical Association (for medical doctors).

    Additionally, staying in touch with related .gov sites like the Centers for Disease Control will not only keep you up-to-date with the latest announcements and news related to your medical office, they also offer tools, guidelines, and best practices to help boost your social media efforts. Some of these include top pages to follow, how to write for social media, how to share a video online and badges, and infographics that can be shared (more to come on this later).

    2. Turn patients into brand ambassadors.

    Before you do that, be sure to review the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) social media policy, training, and guidelines. There’s even a handy compliance checklist that outlines safeguards to protect your patient’s private health information as well as your practice from unintentional litigious scenarios.

    Okay, back to turning patients into brand ambassadors. After your patient has granted written permission to share a photo and story, you’re all systems go. When people are looking for providers, they’re looking for positive patient outcomes, sweet stories about team members, and what can they expect if they choose to visit your office. When sharing these posts out, be sure to tag your location and the patient so they can share it out to their network. This amplifies your reach and lets others know about their interaction with your medical office.

    Maybe Pamela the Patient shares it out, and her third cousin, twice-removed, has been looking for a new pediatrician and decides to call and hear more about Pamela’s experience. They speak, and Pamela’s cousin visits Google to look at reviews and also Facebook to see if she can get a visual feel for the atmosphere. Just like that, you have a new patient!

    Another way to turn patients into ambassadors is to ask them to leave reviews on Facebook about their experience. Again, all it takes is one post to reach the one person who is searching for your area of medical expertise. They’ll check you out on social media, and will probably look at what past patients are saying about their experience and interactions with the team and doctors.

    3. Set expectations with your staff

    Creating a social media strategy can seem daunting, but hey, you made it past step one, right? By no means is social media the end-all-be-all for medical offices. That being said, it is a great tool that can be used to increase your reach and up the number of impressions, potential clients will see your name and brand.

    It can feel overwhelming trying to get in the habit of posting on social media. Here are some tips to help get it organized:

    – Assign a person, like an office manager, to be responsible for posting. Preferably, it’s someone with experience on their own personal social media feeds or with past experience in another medical office setting.

    – Set a cadence for posting, and start small. If you’re just getting started, set a goal of 2-3 times per week. As you ramp up and build your brand ambassadors, you’ll have more organic content and can increase the frequency to 5-6 times per week.

    – Encourage the team to share ideas for what the office can post or share. You could even run a contest amongst your staff to see who gets the most engagement on a post that was their idea.

    4. Let’s not forget the most important part. Content!

    Create a monthly calendar with posts and ideas. This will help keep the content and ideas flowing.

    Use a variety of images and content types. In the absence of organic content from your own office, here are some ideas to continue to build out a calendar for posting:

    – National “position-specific” celebration days. For example, National Medical Assistant Day (October 21) or National Physician Assistant Day (October 6). There’s even a website that is specifically created for health care observances. Check it out!

    – Team celebrations like work anniversaries and promotions. Showing longevity with staff is a great thing to promote.

    – Federal and secular holidays like July 4, New Years, Christmas, Father’s Day. Food holidays are always fun, especially if someone brings in coordinated goodies.

    – Volunteer work or fundraising for the medical office’s charity of choice. People love to see others give back to a special cause.

    Lastly, remember that network you built when you created the accounts (see section 1) and you spent time following relevant, practice-specific accounts? Share, share, share! Those agencies have great content, infographics, and updates that are at your fingertips. They stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest bits of information and make it easy to share it with your audience. It also shows consumers that the medical office is paying attention to the industry-experts creating trust between your audience and practice.

    In addition to increasing your practice’s visibility on social media, gaining followers, and new patients, you can also use it for professional networking. If you’ve been hesitant about starting up social media for your medical office, we hope this article has eased your fears and given you the gentle nudge towards taking the first step and post.