Do you have a Twitter handle for your practice? If you don’t, you are missing out on a powerful marketing tool that you can use to grow your practice. Even if you never spend a dime on Twitter, you can use it to reach new patients and strengthen your relationships with existing ones.
As of 2015, approximately 41% of internet users said that information they found on social media sites such as Twitter influenced their decisions about healthcare – but only 31% of healthcare providers were using Twitter. That gap is in many ways an encouraging one if you want to grow your practice because the chances are good that your competitors haven’t jumped aboard the Twitter train yet.
With that in mind, here are some twitter marketing tips strategies you can use to market your practice.
- Pick a handle that describes who you are. The name of your practice is a good start, but you may want to consider adding a location word, too, such as the name of your city.
- Personalize your profile using relevant keywords. If someone in your area is searching Twitter for pain management services, you want to make sure that they can find you. If you don’t make a point of using relevant terms in your profile, you’ll be invisible to the people who need you the most.
- Follow authoritative people and comment on their Tweets whenever possible. Any time you can add value to a conversation that’s relevant to your practice, you increase your visibility and prove your worth to the people who see your comment. You can also build authority by re-Tweeting content from relevant publications and authorities.
- Put Twitter follow buttons on your website, blog, and emails. The point of using Twitter is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Of course you want to attract new patients and leads, but existing patients can be referral sources too. Let everyone know that you’re using Twitter and encourage them to follow you.
- Write intriguing headlines and link them to high-value content. Twitter’s 140-character limit means that you can’t post long content there. However, what you can do is write a compelling headline and use a service like bit.ly to truncate URLs as needed.
- Make good use of hashtags to ensure that your content can be found. Hashtag use is an art form, and it’s easy to go overboard. A good Tweet uses a maximum of three relevant hashtags, and sticks to those that will do the most to increase the visibility of the Tweet. People who have personal Twitter accounts sometimes get cute with hashtags, but resist the urge to do that. Keep it professional and relevant. Many businesses stick to using the same 10 or 15 hashtags over time to keep things consistent and make it easy for people to find them.
- Speaking of hashtags, don’t be afraid to start a new hashtag with the name of your practice. Doing that can help you monitor mentions of your practice, and it’s also a way of encouraging people to Tweet about you and your services.
- Don’t forget about images and videos when you Tweet. One of the great strengths of Twitter as a marketing tool is that it delivers content in easily-digestible chunks, but you can link to rich content such as blog posts, articles, infographics, and videos as well. To get the most of your Twitter account, use it to distribute content that might not otherwise see the light of day.
- Speaking of video, one recent development in the Twitter-verse is the advent of video streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat. Very few healthcare providers are availing themselves of these apps yet, but they can be a powerful way to spread the word about your services. Doing a live Q & A or podcast is an excellent way to connect with new and existing patients alike. It’s important to note that this type of video does not have to be professionally produced – in fact, it’s designed to be shot using a cell phone. That means you don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t need any special equipment.
- Monitor the Tweets that people direct at you using your Twitter handle, and respond as needed. It might seem obvious that you need to respond to direct questions, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t bother to do that. Positive comments and criticisms also deserve a response. The more closely you monitor your account, the more engaged and compassionate you will be perceived to be.
- Seek out Twitter chats that are relevant to your practice, and then participate in them. A Twitter chat is a live chat, usually centered on a particular topic or hashtag. The benefit of participating in a Twitter chat is that you can be sure that everybody attending is interested in the topic at hand. When you contribute to the conversation, you may very well end up attracting new followers – and those followers can end up becoming patients, or even referral sources.
- Stick to relevant content, and save the personal Tweets for your private account. Everything you Tweet under the handle for your practice reflects on your practice.
- Be careful to maintain patient confidentiality and follow HIPAA rules. Your patients may follow you on Twitter, and if they want to refer to themselves as patients that’s fine. However, you should never reveal that a follower is a patient, and you must be careful to avoid revealing any confidential information even when responding to direct questions. When in doubt, encourage the patient to call you directly rather than risking a breach.
- Consider using a scheduling tool to spread Tweets out over time. An app like TweetLater can help you schedule Tweets throughout the day – something that’s particularly helpful if you don’t have a dedicated marketing person whose job it is to post new content.
The bottom line is that using Twitter to market your practice can be a very good way to increase your reach, establish yourself as an authority, and attract new patients.