Patricia RedsickerDermatologists and other physicians should choose their platforms wisely because different people hang out in different virtual places, according to Patricia Redsicker, social media manager for the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and a former social media consultant for dermatologists and others.
“You can’t really be having the same conversations on Facebook that you do on Twitter,” Redsicker says. “Sadly, I have seen many professionals blasting the same content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn [and] everywhere, as if the same audience hangs out equally on the same platforms.”
Dermatologists, for example, might want to have two types of productive conversations on social media. One goal could be to draw new people to a dermatology practice website.
“Facebook would be a great place to have those conversations. …especially if you’re a business-to-consumer type of business, Facebook is really where you need to be. So, content that you publish on your blog, you have to make sure it finds its way onto your Facebook page,” Redsicker says.
If the dermatologist’s second goal is to virtually converse with others in the industry, including doctors, researchers and thought leaders, Twitter might be a more relevant destination for those conversations, according to Redsicker.
There are also social media sites that some dermatologists might want to avoid, according to Redsicker. Dermatologists should be careful with using SnapChat, for example. The problem with physicians using SnapChat, according to Redsicker, is it has a bad reputation because teenagers and younger kids tend to use it for not-so-proper activities.
“That’s why … you have to have a strategy upfront [of] not only where you’re going to be conducting your social media conversations, but what kinds of conversations you are going to have on each platform,” Redsicker says.
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Another thing to keep in mind: Platforms change, according to Adam Mamelak, M.D., a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon in Austin, Texas. Dermatologists should stay on top of those changes, so they can adjust their social media strategies.
“Vine was very popular for a while. Vine is not as popular as it used to be. Foursquare was popular for a while. Foursquare is not as popular as it used to be. You have to change as the public changes,” Dr. Mamelak says.
A platform for every purpose
Dr. Mamelak comments on how he uses different social media platforms.
“We post pertinent patient information on Facebook. We post information about clinical procedures. We also post fun things that are happening in our clinic. Patients get to know our nurses and staff and it’s nice to post things about their birthdays and special events.”
“If we have news or new developments, we post those on Twitter. Twitter is also an opportunity for reminders. At 8 a.m., it’s a good time to remind people on Twitter to put their sunscreen on, or to tweet out what the UV index is for the day.”
“Instagram is nice because you can post pictures from around the clinic, but you can also post clinical pictures, info graphics and facts. Pictures of moles, ABCD’s, skin cancer and other skin conditions are great for Instagram, as you can explain exactly what is being shown.”
“LinkedIn is one of the best ways that I have to communicate with colleagues, whether colleagues from around the country or referring doctors and other physicians about developments in the clinic…. I use it to reach out to people on more of a professional level. If I need help with special cases, advice about healthcare reform, even to find new employees, I can reach people through LinkedIn.”
“Tumblr helps promote our blog and helps us connect with individuals that have common interests. For example, we can connect with other people sharing skin cancer information.”
Dr. Mamelak says that while he doesn’t think the social aspect of Google + has taken off as much as anticipated, it is a social networking home to many businesses and their employees.
“If we have corporate partners or see a lot of patients that are from one specific company here in town, most of them will have Google + accounts. That’s a good way to reach those people.”
Dermatologists on social media
Naren Arulrajah, CEO of Ekwa.com, shares examples of his clients’ social media pages:
Services-related messages are tweeted on a bi-weekly basis and also special updates related to the business and events are tweeted. Why? Tweeting regularly ensures the practice is actively engaged with its followers. Existing and potential patients are able to get instant updates on what’s happening at the practice and they’re able to take advantage of special events, offers and so on, according to Arulrajah.
This dermatologist’s YouTube account is updated with service-related videos and patient testimonials. Why? YouTube improves visibility, Arulrajah says. “People tend to believe what they see more than they read. Hence, posting video testimonials on YouTube not only convinces viewers but also enhances the popularity of the doctor.”
A quick guide to social media platforms
While retail is the number one industry that has acquired customers through Facebook, healthcare is fourth (after education and tech/software). Eighty percent of U.S. social network users say they prefer to connect with brands through Facebook. One challenge of using Facebook for business is that, while people view information, they’re less likely to share what they see.1
People on Twitter tend to use it for news consumption. Most Twitterers are in urban areas. The best times to Tweet are Monday through Thursday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The worst times: after 3 p.m. on Friday.2
It’s where white-collar professionals network. High usage (and good posting times) are Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the start or end of workdays.2
Positioned to become one of the top social networks, Pinterest is carving its niche as the tablet-first social network. Pinterest users make up nearly 50 percent of social media sharing on iPads. Top shares include content around food, drink, family and parenting.2
Focused on 18 to 34 year olds. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has an estimated 180 million monthly active users.3
A social networking platform for blogging, Tumblr is where teens and young adults go to express themselves.2