There’s something addictive about Facebook. At least some people I know will dip into the social stream several times a day. Not everyone, of course, but with over 150-million monthly active users in the US alone, that’s better than half the adult population. And, as you’re probably aware, Facebook has more than 1.6 billion monthly active users worldwide. Chances are, you read that statistic via your Facebook feed. And that makes it the most popular social network on the planet. (We don’t have data for other planets.) The top-line numbers are impressive, but the even-better story for doctors and healthcare providers is a little deeper. More than 90 percent of respondents to a National Research Corporation poll indicated indicated they’ve used the popular social network to gather information on their health care. It’s no wonder that Internet-savvy marketing professionals have adopted social media—and Facebook in particular—for hospital and healthcare marketing. Quite simply, that’s where prospective patients and caregivers are hanging their digital hat. Launching a Facebook page is deceptively easy. Having an effective Facebook presence as a healthcare marketing tool, however, requires some time, attention and serious thought about what works. Here are a few of the important considerations about having, or improving, a Facebook page for doctors. Set guidelines for privacy and legal considerations. Almost anything goes with a personal Facebook presence; from puppy selfies to Granny recopies. But business pages have a higher standard, and doctors and medical practices have HIPAA and professional requirements that are even higher. Start with a clear understanding about patient privacy, confidentiality and other regulations, and share the policy with everyone in the office. It’s easy, and (mostly) free. Creating a Facebook page is free and simple to use. Be aware, however, that you’ll need to commit to an ongoing effort to maintain your Facebook presence. A neglected or out-of-date page can be harmful. It’s about your audience, not you. Successful social media depends on engaging individuals who share a common interest. To begin, “listen first,” and identify what people—your prospective audience—is interested in or wants to know. Your agenda is built on meeting their interests. Get acquainted with Facebook Audience Insights. Facebook pages for business have an insightful marketing resource for aggregate information about target audience geography, demographics, Facebook usage and more. Deliver share-able content. Social audiences appreciate accurate and authoritative information. But good content that also inspires readers to share the information helps the reader and expands your online presence. Keep tabs on the competition. Facebook provides a small, but useful, window into the online promotional and marketing efforts by the competition.
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