The genie is out of the bottle. The world is changing—fueled by an endless stream of tweets and selfies. Today, social media’s emerging power players are Twitter and Instagram. Every day their influence seems to grow exponentially, especially when it comes to marketing. If your practice is still on the sidelines, you are missing valuable opportunities to connect with patients and grow your business.
“To say that Twitter and Instagram are popular is an understatement,” Cyndi Miller said. She is the founder and chief executive officer of Miller Public Relations. “They’ve become addictive. Both platforms allow consumers to interact with favorite brands in a personal way. More importantly, they allow you to create an engaging voice, face and personality for your practice—key components that are absolutely essential when it comes to building relationships with existing and new patients.”
Tweet it, post it, and they will come. Engaging with social media is now the number one daily activity for Americans. We now spend more time on social media than we do reading email and searching on Google. Now you can leverage that affinity and make Twitter and Instagram important parts of your marketing strategy.
Tweet Your Way to More Patients, More Revenue It’s hard to believe that when Twitter first debuted in 2006, no one—not even its founders—really understood how it would be used. Originally, they thought of it as a “status” update tool that would most likely be used by friends in social circles or business professionals for industry networking.
At first, there were about 20,000 tweets per day, but Twitter began to pick up dramatic momentum in 2009 and 2010. Today, there are 58 million tweets a day—more than 9,000 every second. Everyday, 135,000 new users sign up. The “Twittersphere” is morphing into the world’s most influential global information network with 284 million active monthly users and 600 million searches every day.
All of the Fortune 100 companies have robust Twitter accounts, and business experts agree there is no reason every company should not be tweeting at least once a day. Building a coveted base of “followers”—people you have managed to successfully engage—will pave the path to brand loyalty and valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
“Foster this loyalty with a personalized approach—whether it’s having physicians in your practice posting tweets or patients tweeting about life following their LASIK or cataract procedures,” Miller suggested. “One of the best things about Twitter is that it fosters online dialogue. Personalized posts are a catalyst for conversations that will cement your brand in the hearts and minds of patients looking for your expertise and services.”
In his book, “Social Media Playbook for Business: Reaching Your Online Community with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and More,” Tom Funk reveals that 67 percent of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy its products and services.
It’s All About Immediacy Twitter also offers flexibility and quick-turn appeal that can’t be matched by print or broadcast. You can promote your products and services without the long lead times required by traditional, deadline-driven media. Best of all, Twitter allows you to reach people wherever they are rather than waiting for them to see a print ad or catch a television or radio spot.
Today, about 58 percent of American adults currently own a smartphone allowing your tweets to reach followers at work, home, on the golf course, literally anywhere 24/7. According to Nielson, the average American spends 11 hours a day with electronic media. So, there is a wide window of opportunity for your target audience to see tweets about your products, services and procedures. Followers are automatically notified when you’ve posted something new.
Coveted Demographics While we hear a lot about the antics of Twitter users like Kim Kardashian, the composition of Twitter’s largest audience segments might surprise you. Unlike other forms of social media, Twitter users are highly educated. Roughly 16 percent have advanced degrees and 30 percent hold a bachelor’s degree. They also tend to have higher household incomes and more spending power. While Twitter delivers Millennials in droves, its fastest growing demographic is actually 55-to 64-year-olds. In fact, the senior segment has grown 79 percent since 2012.
With the ability to embed photos and video, the opportunity to dramatically engage followers is no longer restricted to 140 characters. A Toronto hospital recently demonstrated this when it tweeted a robot-assisted radical prostatectomy—live!
And unlike traditional marketing vehicles, Twitter can build powerful word-of-mouth through retweets of your content that extend your reach. Of course, tweets should always link to expanded content—either a blog, video or page on your website. If your tweet goes viral, your practice can receive countless links and unique page views that, in turn, boost your social indexing with search engines.
A word of advice, though: Avoid using tweets to direct people to sites or content other than your own. “Be strategic and remember you are tweeting to motivate patients and prospective patients to learn more about your practice, physicians, procedures, services and positive outcomes,” Miller advised. “As part of your marketing plan, Twitter posts should be focused and complement messaging you are pushing out via traditional print and broadcast advertisements.”
The Instagram Invasion If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Instagram is redefining the conversation with visual panache.
Photographs have an irresistible appeal—people love to take them, be featured in them, share what they are doing, and see what others are doing. Instagram makes it easy to do all of this in a matter of seconds simply by using a smartphone. The result is powerful visual storytelling that has captured the public’s imagination. In June 2013—just two-and-a-half years after its debut—Instagram had 100 million active users each month. In early December 2014, the company announced it had reached 300 million active users! Nearly 70 million photos and videos are uploaded each day—everything from images of The Great Wall of China to the newest athletic gear by Nike to images of our armed forces such as the United States Marines.
The research firm Digital Marketing Ramblings reports that 70 percent of Instagram users (51 percent men; 49 percent women) log in to the site at least once a day; 35 percent log in more than once a day. Twenty-percent of Instagram users (now roughly 60 million people!) are 16 to 64 years old. Most importantly, all users spend an average of $257 per month with companies that post on Instagram.
What can this mean for your practice? Like Twitter, the popularity, flexibility and immediacy of Instagram make it easy to connect with your brand any time, anywhere. Frequency and reach are the heavy lifters in any marketing strategy. Strategic postings on Instagram effectively deliver both to your target audience.
“If you are a LASIK or cataract surgeon, imagine a dramatic collection of patient faces highlighting the wisdom and beauty reflected in their eyes. Or photos posted by patients showing something beautiful they saw after receiving their new intraocular lenses. Post artful behind-the-scenes or a day-in-our-practice photo essays. Instagram is all about seeing the world in new ways—which dovetails beautifully into the mission of vision specialists. Be creative!” Miller suggested.
Photos framed and composed in a visually interesting way garner the most attention and online comments, so give your photos some thought before posting. Instagram offers a variety of filters to help you enhance your images. Just make sure your images are attention-getting and aligned with the voice of your other online vehicles. Keep them humanistic—don’t just post photos of surgical equipment or empty office spaces. Remember photos that feature people or reflect creativity will resonate more with your audience. Look at your favorite brands for inspiration—Starbucks and Nike are good ones to check out.
Finally, use hashtags to enhance your posts. These key words or phrases preceded by the # symbol make it easy to track who’s talking about your practice. Give them some thought and make sure your hashtags are relevant to your business.
Most importantly, get started! Need help integrating Twitter and Instagram into your marketing plan? The advertising and marketing experts at Miller Public Relations can help drive patients to your practice. Call us at 817- 281-3440 or drop a note to Cyndi Miller – firstname.lastname@example.org.