Way back in the Dark Ages (like 2010, when Facebook only had 400 million users), it was still somewhat possible to look at the country's growing obsession with social media and wonder if the trend had real implications for serious organizations or was just the latest craze of the hipster crowd.
According to The 2012 Social Media Report by Nielsen, the global information and measurement company, we spent 21 percent more time online last year than in 2011. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter dominate by claiming well over twice the amount of our online time as the next highest category, games.
Our Lives Go Social and Mobile
We are no longer tied to the personal computer to stay in touch, either, but are more often using smartphones and tablets to access social media whenever and wherever we want. More than 60 percent of the growth in social media use in 2012 was done on mobile devices.
More than half of people ages 23-34 use social media in the office, but nearly a third of people ages 18-24 use it in the bathroom! OK, that might be too much information, but suffice it to say, our mobile devices have truly become an extension of our beings. The Mobile Marketing Association of Asia has determined there are more mobile phone subscriptions on the planet than there are toothbrushes!
The blog Digital Buzz reports that 57 percent of Internet users talk to people more online than they do in real life. One in three social media users prefers to use social media for customer service rather than the phone. And 76 percent of social media users report feeling positively informed / connected / amused after logging on.
More and more consumers are using multiple screens at the same time: checking e-mail while watching TV, tweeting and posting about a show while watching it, and looking up coupons and products while viewing a TV ad. All of this connectivity translates into:
- Far greater opportunities for engagement with consumers (new patients, prospective students)
- Consumers who are hyper-informed and have access to the reviews and opinions of product and service users around the globe
- Word of mouth that is exponential
And for Chiropractic?
The news couldn't be better. Chiropractic has long relied on word of mouth to spread its message of spinal health, peak performance and wellness care. For the past 100 years, we have relied on our patients to tell their friends about the impact of chiropractic in their lives. We've never enjoyed even a fraction of the advertising and promotion budgets of the pharmaceutical companies, medical device-makers and large hospitals.
Finally, it doesn't matter. Through social media, anyone with an Internet connection can tap into the opinions and advice of an infinitely larger universe. It's like giving word of mouth a megaphone, a mountaintop and its own TV channel. From the single-practitioner office to the national associations and chiropractic college marketing departments, this means more opportunities for engagement with potential patients and prospective students than we could have ever dreamed possible.
The key is for chiropractic to really be out there in a positive way, sharing health information broadly where people can find it. For example, one way we're doing that at Life University is through my Facebook page. A few years ago, we may have thought of Facebook as that place teenagers visited to post photos from last week's party. It is still that, but it's now also the most massive and impactful communication tool to come down the pike, perhaps since the printing press.
Facebook is where I share my latest insights, announcements and concerns. It's where I can pursue my vision of helping chiropractors effectively reach out to prospective students. And, it's the place where people from around the world can comment on my thinking. .The posts that generate the largest and most passionate responses are the viral videos that tell the chiropractic story. Like that of Ryan Pruett, who shares his amazing recovery from a brain tumor that was expected to end his life more than a year ago. And recent Life graduate Jin Jiang Li, who is heading back to China to be one of the nation's only 10 chiropractors to care for more than a billion people.
But mine is just one voice. We need every chiropractor out there sharing the story, building their practice(s) and nurturing the next generation. Our vision is to empower thousands of chiropractors to build an audience and connect with thousands and thousands of people through Facebook, so collectively we can reach millions and improve people's lives.
Social media provides chiropractic with a platform for thought leadership unlike any we have had access to before. Jason Deitch, DC (Life University '97), national best-selling author, practicing chiropractor and proud husband of Facebook's first director of marketing under Mark Zuckerberg, is showing us how to make the most of it. Dr. Deitch and I have co-founded Chiro Social Media Academy to bring expertise in how to communicate and influence through Facebook to the entire profession, to help all of us more effectively tell the chiropractic story.
While your first thought may be that this is a promotional pitch, it's not: the academy is offering a free, seven-day online Facebook training course to help you build an audience of hundreds and thousands of people who want to connect to the vital health revolution. You'll learn if your existing Facebook page is set up correctly, how to give your page a compelling purpose, how to automate what, when and who posts to your page, and the top Facebook marketing strategies that will lead to success.
The video-based program keeps things simple enough that you don't have to become a computer geek, but in-depth enough to ensure your Facebook page will be effective. We'll show you how to engage your staff to make the page work, or even how to outsource it effectively if you just aren't comfortable with the medium.
If you have a passionate desire to share your message, there is no more effective tool than Facebook. Add your voice to the growing online chorus that is teaching people how to live better lives through chiropractic.
Dr. Guy F. Riekeman, president of Life University in Marietta, Ga., has held leadership positions in chiropractic education essentially since his graduation from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1972. He was appointed vice president of Sherman College in 1975 and has served as president of all three Palmer campuses and as chancellor of the Palmer Chiropractic University System. In 2006, he was elected to the board of directors of the Council on Chiropractic Education.