Social media is like a garden: It needs constant tending to grow and if it is neglected, it dies. Adding a social media element to your marketing campaign can be exciting, confusing, fun, and frustrating all at the same time. Regardless of what social media platform you are using, the goal is always the same—to extend the reach of your brand and engage potential and current patients.
Many physician marketers are excellent at advising their clients on the benefits of a social media campaign, only to find later that the number of followers has either stagnated or is not increasing as quickly as they would like. Building a social media following, however, takes both time and effort. Many physicians think social media is a "Field of Dreams" scenario—“If you build it they will come.” They will come to a certain extent, but the amount of effort a physician and his or her marketing team puts into social media is directly related to the rate at which their following grows.
Here are three ways physicians and marketers can actively pursue a larger social media audience:
1. Interact with Others
Physician marketers should always be actively pursuing new relationships with like-minded people. Interacting with others, whether they are other physicians, hospitals, associations, or patients, is a critical step to building familiarity and becoming a trusted authority. There are many apps and tools that physicians can use to find others with similar interests. For example, if a practice is utilizing the Twitter platform, Twellow allows users to find others with similar interests. On Twellow, there are more than 170,000 users currently listed in the “Health” category, ranging from professionals to publications to general health enthusiasts—all of which could potentially be interested in your content.
2. Make it Easy to Share Your Content
If you have a strong Web presence, make it easier for users to share your content. Adding share buttons or widgets to your website will make it simple for users to find your social media pages and to share your information. Tools such as ShareThis make it easy for website designers to integrate share buttons into a variety of popular website platforms. Users are unlikely to take extra steps to share your content when so many websites have made sharing as easy as clicking a button linking to social media.
3. Stay Focused
On many successful websites you might see links to 10 or more social media sites, so it can be tempting to open accounts on every social media platform you can think of. When you are just starting with social media, however, it is much more effective to focus on building your following on just one or two sites. Building a following takes a lot of effort, and maintaining 10 or more social media sites can be frustrating and time-consuming. Focusing on developing your brand on one site at a time will yield more encouraging results and will allow you to master the platform.