Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Julie Gough-Nelson, marketing director, Shepherd Eye Center, North Las Vegas. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.
By Julie Gough-Nelson
For every practice, it’s important to establish your brand and finds ways to differentiate your business from the competition. When all else is considered equal-like the services being rendered or procedures being performed-this differential often comes down to your employees.
They have a way to smooth things over, to calm a patient, even after a longer battery of tests or long wait time. As patients come back year after year, the doctor establishes a rapport with them. Physicians become the face of the practice.
Patients may forget the technicians who assisted them along the way, but patients become loyal to physicians and remember their name and the care that physician provided. Other than checkout, they are the last person the patient sees during his or her appointment. Whether it’s a birthday, funny holiday event, or a legitimate business award, consider using social media platforms to take the physician to the patients.
Your physicians are the best at what they do, and hopefully, the community recognizes their expertise.
Here in our market, there are three primary recognitions that our physicians can receive during the year. Two are magazine based and recognize the top doctors in different medical categories. The other is recognition of the “best in” multiple industries (including medical) for one of Las Vegas’ master-planned communities.
Although the physicians receive their name listed in the print material, sometimes that reach only goes so far.
Consider cross-promoting the physician with mention of the publication or awards program via social media channels like Twitter or Facebook.
A well-designed Facebook post that includes a photo of the physician, along with text references to the award is better received and “liked” than posts without graphics.
Also important, whether on Facebook or Twitter, is the use of meaningful hashtags that may be used in conjunction with the award or appropriate handles that “tag” the awarding body in the post or tweet and is also seen by their viewers. By tagging the awarding agencies in the post or tweet, you may be putting the doctor in front of eyes that haven’t before known of him or her and may feel motivated to schedule his or her next appointment with your facility based on perceived expertise implied in the award promotion.
As marketers, communicators, or practice administrators, we spend time cultivating relationships with media outlets in order to get our physicians on the radio, in front of the camera, or commenting on trending topics in newspapers.
So it only makes sense that you should use social media to enhance the reach of the message you’ve worked so hard to obtain before, during, and after the release of the news. For contributing comments in newspaper articles, you will probably know from the journalist when the story will run. If that is the case, you can let your social media audiences on Facebook and Twitter know when to pick up a copy at the newsstand. Once the article hits the online version of the publication, you can use the same channels to share the link to the article with viewers.
By asking a question in conjunction with the link sharing, you can create a vehicle for having viewers to add in their two cents about what they learned from the article.
Many of the same things are true for a radio interview. The times the physicians here have been on the radio, the interview has been taped, and set for a later run date. We are able to promote the original airing of the interview via Facebook and Twitter with pictures taken with the doctor and radio host.
After the interview has aired, obtain a copy of the sound file and place it on your website, sharing the link to that page from your social media channels.
With a few images, you may be able to incorporate that audio with visuals into a format suitable for YouTube. Video clips provide, by far, the most compelling content. You are able to get a real sense of the physician’s personality as her or she interacts with the hosts while at the same time showcasing their expertise.
During live television interviews, I always make sure that each of our offices has at least one TV tuned into the channel where the doctor will appear. I typically accompany the physician to the studio to provide last-minute tips. Green-room moments, on camera moments, and post-interview moments with the anchors provide for great content for the rapid pace of Twitter. If you are able to receive a file of the interview post production, don’t forget to share the video on social media, paying particular attention to YouTube.
In November 2014, our physicians, in conjunction with a retirement party, had photos taken for the new 2015 marketing and advertising campaign that had been planned. As we began to organize the photos and create a collage of the physicians, a remark was made that the photos could be used for a great social media campaign for the holidays based on a popular childhood tradition.
Thus the physicians were transformed and photos snapped of the “doctors” causing mischief around the office. The posts were shared over about 3 weeks in December. The response was fantastic. Posts had high engagement in the form of likes and comments and were shared many times.
Best of all, the patients had the chance to see their physicians in a different light, a light-hearted one that in many ways made them more approachable.
Besides holidays, use social media as an opportunity to highlight birthdays. Recently, our president celebrated his birthday. A few members of the staff captured the restaurant wait staff singing to him at his birthday lunch. The moment was light-hearted and again showcased the doctor’s fun personality, as well as the comradery felt by doctors and staff alike in the practice.
However, remember to keep it professional at all times. Inappropriate language, or innuendos would not be acceptable. After all, you are still presenting them as a physician in a medical capacity and want to protect their reputation.
Whether commenting on a post or casting votes for your doctor in the running for an award, encourage employees to spread the word.
A few likes goes a long way for creating in others a desire to also like the post, thus creating another positive reputation building moment for the physicians and the practice.