As the popularity of social networks grows among businesses and professionals, customers' expectations about how they will be served through these networks continue to evolve. According to Gartner Inc., a top global IT research and advisory firm, by 2014, organizations that fail to engage with customers through social media will face the same consequences as they do today if they ignore a customer's emails and phone calls.1
1. Increase Your Social Media Presence
Rather than remaining uncertain about the use of social media, it may be better to develop a comprehensive social media strategy and establish a professional presence over key social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. As a chiropractor, you can use social media to show that you care for your patients, are willing to go the extra mile to engage with them and are listening to what they have to say.
An eMarketer report says only one in four small businesses in the United States uses social media to engage with existing and potential customers in a strategic manner.2 This presents an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and create an outstanding social media presence as a chiropractor.
2. Humanize Your Patients' Social Experience
Have a dedicated staffer assigned to the task of managing your social media accounts. Alternatively, you may outsource the task to a professional agency with experience in handling health-care social media accounts. When your existing and potential patients in the local area know whom they are engaging with, they will be much more forthcoming and responsive. Wherever the patient's concern is more personal, you may encourage him/her to consult with you privately.
3. Use Social Media to Improve Patient Relationships
Facebook and Twitter present incredible opportunities to improve your relationship with patients. Allow patients to speak freely about their concerns, doubts and any complaints they may have, and address these areas in an empathetic and friendly manner. Never be curt or dismissive in your tone over social media, and you will see your online reputation skyrocket as you show your patients each day how much you care.
According to a recent survey reported by software company Awareness, only 16 percent of companies say they have a social CRM (customer relationship management) system in place.3 You can gain an edge over your competition by taking a lead in this area and setting new standards in chiropractic CRM.
4. Don't Hard Sell Your Services on Social Networks
Do not confuse your chiropractic social network account with an e-commerce website. Social media is more about social engagement; sales will follow as an incidental benefit. You may make periodic announcements about new products, services and special offers, but do not get repetitive or aggressive about self-promotion.
Potential patients have different expectations from a health care social network, and you need to focus on fulfilling those expectations. Provide people with useful information, updates and links about the latest developments in the chiropractic world and how it can help address their health concerns.
5. Take the Conversation Offline
You may not have the resources to engage in prolonged one-on-one conversations over the social networks with dozens of existing and potential patients. Once you have created an effective communication and relationship over social media, encourage the individual to review your chiropractic website, blog or articles for more information, or suggest they visit you personally for a consultation.
Your social media managers should have the art of taking the conversation offline beyond a point, and optimizing the available time and resources to reach out to the largest number of local patients in the most effective way. With more than a billion active users on Facebook alone, you cannot afford to ignore the impact of social media on your practice in the foreseeable future. The only way to win in this technological race is to not wait for tomorrow. Act now.
- "Gartner Predicts That Refusing to Communicate by Social Media Will Be as Harmful to Companies as Ignoring Phone Calls or Emails Is Today." Gartner, Inc., Aug. 1, 2012.
- "SMBs Struggle to Adopt, Integrate Social Media." e-Marketer, Sept. 10, 2012.
- "New Research: Social Media ROI Is Still a Challenge for 57%." Convince & Convert, 2012, reporting on the "State of Social Media Marketing" survey by software company Awareness.
Naren Arulrajah is president and CEO of Ekwa Marketing (www.ekwa.com), a complete Internet marketing company that focuses on SEO, social media, marketing education and the online reputations of chiropractors.