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Social Media Marketing for Doctors: How (+ Why) To Do It Right

Social media marketing for doctors is a powerful tool for building your brand, reaching new patients, and growing your practice.

Colleen Christison June 28, 2023
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Are you still relying on word-of-mouth referrals to get new patients? Wake up and smell the antiseptic, Doc. Social media marketing for doctors is the new Yellow Pages.

We get it. You’re from a prescriptive world full of rules and regulations. The wild west of advertising on social media can seem like extra work on your busy plate or simply not for you. But social media in healthcare is not uncharted territory. You can easily create your own social strategy by emulating what others have done.

Fear not, my medical friend, because this blog is here to guide you. We’ll cover why other doctors are using social media marketing, how to build and execute a plan, and end with some great social media tips and ideas you’re welcome to use.

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8 reasons why social media marketing is important for doctors

Social media is no longer just a platform for posting cat videos and status updates (although it’s great for that too).

For doctors, it’s also a powerful tool for building your brand, reaching new patients, and growing your practice. Social media marketing for doctors presents tons of opportunities. Just be sure to stay compliant with industry and legal regulations.

Here are 8 reasons why social media marketing makes sense for doctors.

Reach new audiences

Social media platforms allow doctors to increase their brand awareness and reach a wider audience. Why is this important? You get to shape and direct the public sentiment about your business and brand.

Ask yourself: What kind of story do you want to tell people? Is there a certain practice or health care philosophy you adhere to that would be helpful for patients to know? Do you want people to feel a particular way before coming to you?

You can use social media to establish yourself as a thought leader, build your reputation, and tell your audience what you stand for.

@tiktokbabydoc

Remember-you have a voice, you have rights, you can ask questions, you can have a support person, you can be involved in your care! #obgyn #mfm #birth #childbirth #laboranddelivery #pregnant #pregnanttiktok #pregnancytiktok #pregnancy #dontforget #empowerment

♬ original sound – lalilala

Educate your followers

Social media is a great education platform. It allows doctors to share health-related information and education on various medical conditions. This can help improve patient outcomes and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Social media marketing for medical practices can help spread the word about anything under the sun.

@tisharowemd

Reply to @mmtaylor23 Great question! #doctorsoftiktok #blackgirlmagic #tisharowemd

♬ original sound – Tisha Rowe

Is there a health tip you find yourself repeating often? Maybe there are some health-related myths you would love to see debunked. Or perhaps you notice a common misconception that hinders people’s health.

Just remember: It’s a good idea to keep these tips fairly general instead of offering specific medical advice over social media. Some questions are better answered in an appointment instead of over DMs.

Boost traffic and search visibility

Sharing high-quality content on social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Plus, creating and maintaining an active social media presence will improve your search engine rankings and increase your online visibility.

Increasing your search visibility can, in turn, net your practice more potential patients. But it also has the added benefit of putting you in front of other medical-industry adjacent opportunities, like speaking roles at conferences.

Make better use of your budget

Social media marketing can be much more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods. Doctors can use social media to reach a wider audience without breaking the bank.

Digital marketing allows for better targeting and audience segmentation. In plain English, that means it’s easier to make sure your marketing campaigns reach the right people. This targeting means you can spend money more efficiently and see a higher return on your investment.

Plus, social media and email marketing have significantly lower costs than traditional advertising methods such as TV or print advertising.

For example, the average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook ads is between $0.18 to $1.85. In comparison, the average cost for a 30-second TV ad during prime time is around $100,000.

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Create networking opportunities

Social media allows you to network with other healthcare professionals and build relationships with colleagues in your field.

You never know who you’ll link up with on LinkedIn; it could be a long-time hero, someone with a new opportunity for you, or a potential new business partner. But if you want to show up on their feeds, you have to create content consistently.

@annaguanchemd

When a male dermatology resident shows up at our all female office #funny #dermatologist #humor #davidattenborough #nature @skinmdryan

♬ original sound – Ashley Noble

Build brand consistency

Social media allows doctors to shape their online presence and maintain a consistent brand across all platforms. This can help build trust and credibility with your patients and increase brand recognition.

Be sure to put some thought into who your brand is and the parameters you need to operate in to achieve a recognizable brand.

Improve patient loyalty

Doctors can improve patient loyalty and encourage repeat visits by engaging with patients through social media. Social media gives you another point of contact with your community.

With the right content, you can give your existing patients a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. Social media for doctor’s offices can let them know what goes on behind the scenes, who your staff is, and any fun anecdotes from your practice.

Increase your competitive advantage

Social media can give doctors like yourself a competitive advantage in your local market. Social media marketing can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract new patients. Being the most-sought-out doctor in your area may come with other opportunities, too.

How to build a social media marketing strategy for doctors

Creating a social media marketing plan for your medical practice or simply for yourself as a doctor doesn’t have to be difficult.

You can think of it like a treatment plan: By following a few simple steps, you can gain a healthy social strategy. Once you’ve perfected the basics, you can refine your marketing plan to meet bigger, more audacious goals.

Step 1: Set your goals

A successful social media marketing plan for doctors starts with SMART goals. That stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Ask yourself, what do I want to get out of social media? Write those goals down, checking them against the SMART format.

Goals give you something to work toward, and you can measure your progress against them later.

If you’re coming up short, try some of these smart social media goals.

Step 2. Define your ideal audience

Audience or buyer personas are fictional representations of your desired audience. They help you get clear on your ideal target audience. Understanding who your audience is allows you to create content with them in mind.

When building out your personas, think through details like:

  • Age,
  • Location,
  • Language,
  • Interests,
  • Challenges,
  • Stage of life, and
  • Preferred social networks.

Once your accounts are established, you can use data and analytics to see who follows and engages with your posts.

If your actual audience does not align with your ideal target audience, you have two options. You can either shift your social media strategy or change who you think you should target.

Step 3. Research your competition

Other doctors are already using social media to their advantage. They’re out there, using social platforms successfully, and you can learn from them.

Social media listening and competitive analysis are two popular ways to research what your competitors are up to and figure out how it works for them. These tools can help you uncover untapped markets and opportunities, too.

For example, perhaps many doctors in your field are on Facebook and Instagram, but the healthcare specialty you have has yet to get to TikTok. Or there could be an opportunity for better communication with patients via an app like WhatsApp.

Step 4. Conduct a social media audit

This step only applies if you already have active social media accounts. If not, skip to step 5.

Take stock of your current social marketing efforts and ask yourself:

  • What’s working and what’s not?
  • Who is engaging with you?
  • What are your most valuable partnerships? What are your ideal partnerships?
  • Which platform is your ideal audience on?
  • How do you stack up against other doctors in your field online?

The answers to these questions should give you an idea of where you can improve. Follow Hootsuite’s social media audit guide and template for an easy walk-through audit.

Step 5. Set up your accounts

If your accounts are already set up, use this time to make sure they’re set up properly.

In Step 2, you figured out where your ideal audience is likely to spend the most time. Use that info to decide where you want to show up and choose the platforms you think will benefit most from your efforts.

These can be platforms other doctors in your field or with your particular brand aren’t occupying. They may also be the places where you’re most excited to produce content.

Once you’ve decided where you want to be active, fill out your accounts according to the following best practices:

  • Fill out all profile fields, including contact information
  • Include keywords in your profile bios that people would use to search for your practice or skills
  • Use consistent branding (logos, images, etc.) across networks

Step 6. Create your content

You’ll want to start with some inspiration. Skip down to the great social media marketing ideas for doctors below, or do your research by perusing accounts you enjoy.

Hootsuite users can also talk to a robot — ahem, we mean use OwlyWriter AI — to get those creative juices flowing.

Try OwlyWriter for free

Next, brainstorm some content pieces. Start with a few marketing pillars, like education, medical history, myth-busting, behind-the-scenes of your practice, or industry news. Jot down some ideas underneath each.

When figuring out your content mix, remember the 80-20 rule:

  • 80% of your posts should aim to inform, educate, or entertain and
  • 20% should directly promote your brand.

Now, it’s time to pull together some posts. You can start creating and scheduling your posts in Hootsuite with Composer.

Business and Enterprise plan members can create posts from templates in Composer’s content library.

Be sure to take advantage of Hootsuite’s other in-app creation tools. The Best Time to Publish feature shows you exactly when you should schedule your content. Plus, our fancy AI-powered suggested hashtags mean you’ll never have to figure out your own again.

Step 7. Put together your social media content calendar

You’re almost done building your social media plan! The next step is to create a social media content calendar to stay on point and on track.

Your content calendar is an overview of your tactics for the coming weeks and months. It should answer your content’s how, what, and where.

You can plan your entire social media calendar within Hootsuite. Hootsuite will also schedule your posts to publish automatically, taking a big time-suck off your plate.

If you’re unsure how much you should post, see what our experts say.

Step 8. Take a look at the data and make adjustments

Once you’ve published some content, you’ll want to see how your plan is performing. Keep an eye on your performance metrics. You can use the social platform’s native data analytics or Hootsuite to generate custom analytics reports.

Your data will tell you whether or not your content is working to reach the SMART goals you set in Step 1. If it’s not, you’ll want to make some adjustments.

3 great social media marketing ideas for doctors

Ready for some inspo? Here are three ideas executed by doctors killing it (not literally) on social media!

Use social trends to spread your message

Don’t be afraid to hop on social media trends, especially if you’re on TikTok. Dr. Phabinly Gabriel, for example, used a trending audio to tell his story while using the #blackdoctors hashtag to show his advocacy for awareness of Black folks in the medical industry.

@doctorphabs

The experience of being Black in medicine is that of being constantly underestimated. If you’re a med student from an underrepresented background, know that you have everything you need to not only succeed but also to excel and thrive. Eternally grateful for the giants of medicine, all black doctors who have paved the way for us, so that we can have more opportunity than anyone who has come before us. We are Black History. #md #medschool #doctorsoftiktok #medicine #blackdoctor #blackdoctors #surgeon #ilooklikeasurgeon #blackinmedicine #melanintok #medtok #blackneurosurgeon #neurosurgery #neurosurgeon #neurosurgeons #medicine #healthcare #medschool #medicalschool #motivation #premedmotivation #inspiration #blackboyjoy #blackboymagic🖤 #blackboymagic #blacktiktok #blackboy #blackmen #blackmenoftiktok #blackhistory

♬ IVOXYGEN YOUNG KID Tiktok version ex – Floyd045_

Dr. Gabriel’s feed is full of fun TikTok trends, inspirational messages, and tons of day-in-the-life content that brings his audience along with him.

Create content that gives your audience value

Doctor Muneeb Shah is a dermatologist who goes by the moniker Doctorly on Instagram.

On social media, he debunks skin care myths, gives his audience interesting facts and insights about products, and shares some grossly fascinating pimple-popping videos.

You can emulate Doctorly’s successful strategy by keeping one thing in mind: Give your audience value.

And if you really want to knock their socks off, pair your value-driven posts with some kind of shocking visual (like the swollen lips above or the pimple extraction videos we mentioned but won’t show for obvious reasons).

Share stories

People love stories. A narrative with a human face and emotion, driven by plot or character, will always grab your audience.

Kevin Pho’s The Podcast by KevinMD gives physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, medical students, and patients a platform to share their insights and tell their stories.

He can reach a massive audience online, uncover aspects of the healthcare industry, and spread a message far and wide.

You can steal this strategy by sharing stories from your colleagues, patients (with permission), or even your own experience. Try to find and highlight the humanity at the center of your posts.

If you’re discussing a diagnosis, for example, give some background on how it may affect someone’s life. Get your audience to put their grandmother, child, or themselves at the center of your story, and you’ll have a prescription for success.

Doctors, healthcare providers, and insurers worldwide use Hootsuite to improve their customer experience, unify their social message, and ensure compliance with industry regulations. See for yourself why we’re the healthcare industry’s leading social media management platform.

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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