Inbound Marketing is very effective for many industries, including medicine. Some may argue that specific social media platforms are better for one industry or another. I’ll take a leap and go head-to-head with that idea and say that all social media is relevant for all professions, if for no other reason, for inbound links.
Although the Doctors must take the utmost precaution in what they write about to protect their patients’ privacy, social media is just as effective as any other type of marketing tool a medical professional may implement. The New Zealand Medical Students Association recently published a guide for Doctors who want to use social media- however I think that these precautions apply to the use of social media in many other professions as well. Here are some things to consider if you are using social media as an inbound marketing tool for your medical practice:
1) Google caches everything. Possibly forever. Maybe not forever, but for a really long time. You could post something and then delete it- if Google crawlers have been to your social media platform before you got the chance to delete it- too late, it’s already cached by the search engine. That being said, it’s necessary to take anything you might post under careful consideration previous to doing so.
2) If blogging is what you like to use for your professional social media, caution is needed. What’s really important is that if you’re going to write about an interesting condition and a patient you treated, you need to make sure there are no specific details in your article. Take that one step further and make sure that there are no specific details in your entire blog that could point to you (the professional) or the patient, even if it’s searched for on Google or any other search engine. Think of the search terms that one would search for if they needed to locate you, your practice, your hospital, or information about the condition. Chances are if you are writing about it, it’s something fairly unique- and that means your blog about this unique subject matter is more likely to come up in search results.
3)Do not speak about your colleagues in a negative way. If you need to vent about something that happened at work, speak to your supervisor. If you need to get something off your chest, vent to your friends. Venting about these things on your social media platforms that are used for professional purposes only serve to diminish your professional credibility. Not only that- but defamation is a serious issue that could land one in the midst of a defamation lawsuit.
4) Keep firm boundaries. Doctor-patient boundaries should not be crossed. These are set up to protect the patient- and violation of these could land the medical professional in some serious hot water. I do not recommend allowing current or former patients access to a personal social media account. However if the account is strictly professional and used for work only (a Facebook business page or professional Twitter account, for example)- I think it’s perfectly acceptable to allow current or former patients access. Again- be sure to maintain confidentiality at all costs. The same goes for colleagues and supervisors- keep your personal information personal- you don’t want to be seen venting about your boss on your Facebook account when he/she is one of your friends. This is also applicable in any other profession depending on what your specific directives are when dealing with clients, customers, colleagues, supervisors, etc.
5) Be mindful of the accessibility of your information. Regardless of the strictest security precautions available- there are still ways to access your information through the internet. If there is something you really don’t want people to know about you- keep it off the internet entirely. Not only can patients find ways to get access to this information, but so can colleagues, prospective employers, educational institutions, and law enforcement- keep everything you put online as professional as possible.
Hopefully those of you professionals reading this have already implemented these guidelines, but if you haven’t – definitely start doing so. Social media is forever-changing- and the more information shared on this topic, the better we can all be at moderating our social media accounts. What have you found to be helpful in protecting your privacy online? What strategies do you carry out to successfully use social media as a marketing tool if you are a medical professional (or a professional in any other industry)?