Ask an MD: How Do We Get More Doctors Involved in Marketing and Social Media Strategy?

September 15, 2013
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Originally published on MedCityNews.com.

It’s a hard truth for healthcare marketers: Consumers don’t want a relationship with your hospital, or your provider network. What they do want is a relationship with a doctor, the person who is actually providing them with healthcare.

Originally published on MedCityNews.com.

It’s a hard truth for healthcare marketers: Consumers don’t want a relationship with your hospital, or your provider network. What they do want is a relationship with a doctor, the person who is actually providing them with healthcare.

That’s why doctors are a crucial part of any institution’s marketing and social media strategy. But if that’s the case, then why is it such a struggle to get doctors to buy into that?

A lot of it has to do with their busy schedules, of course. But Dr. Russell Faust, who runs a social strategy consultancy for healthcare called Annica Media, surveyed physicians at his client hospitals last year and found that another big reason was fear — fear of the unknown, of HIPAA violations or of developing a negative reputation.

There are a few things marketers can do to help knock down those barriers. Since most institutions won’t provide financial incentives for physicians to blog or use social media, they need to feel rewarded in some other way, Faust said.

Physicians are teachers by nature, and a big part of their job is educating patients, so creating educational content can be an extension of that. It also has the potential to save physicians time, Faust suggested. To find ideas for useful web content, start by asking doctors what instructions they repeat multiple times a day to different patients, and follow up by asking them to contribute to an instructional video or article on that topic.

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Then make that process frictionless for them. The same is true for establishing a social media presence for a key physician. Faust recommended that the marketing department create accounts and upload photos and bios for the physician, so that he doesn’t have to spend his time doing the legwork. The process will be smoother for him, and the marketing department will be able to keep a consistent feel across all of its organization’s accounts and ensure that they’re all in line with the organization’s social media policy.

Lastly, follow up with doctors who lend their time and expertise. To build long-standing relationships with physicians, show them the bump in traffic the hospital’s website got from a photo or video. Or show them the bump in registrations to the clinic as a result of uploading physician photos and videos. “Physicians aren’t afraid of data,” Faust said. “Show them your analytics.”