The medical care industry is wrapped in privacy laws and restrictions, for good reason. On one hand, patient privacy makes social media marketing a challenge. How do you balance open communication and patient rights? On the other hand, research shows most people get their information from online sources, even recommendations about medical care. How important is social media marketing for doctors’ offices and how can it be successfully accomplished?

The Research

Virtual Business Marketing recently conducted a study that analyzed 4,000 companies and their social media practices. Consider their findings.

  • Companies that blogged 16 to 20 times per month got twice as much Web traffic as those that blogged just four times per month.
  • Businesses with 300 to 1,000 twitter followers reaped four times as many leads as those with only 25 followers.
  • Firms with 500 to 1,000 “friends” on Facebook received four times as many leads than those with only 1 to 25 “friends.”

The Methods

What does this research mean for medical practices? If you are not utilizing online marketing, you’re missing three major benefits: valuable patient leads, engagement with existing customers and the opportunity to provide information, establishing your practice as a trusted resource. Consider three main methods of accomplishing these three goals.

  • Get creative with social networks. Having a social network presence is about more than just getting “friends” or establishing “contacts.” Engage your audience. Here’s a great example from a plastic surgery office in Knoxville, Tenn. Each week the doctor posts an interesting medical question. A winner is drawn from the pool of respondents and a YouTube video is posted giving a detailed answer to the question. The contest, cleverly labeled the “Truth-O-Meter,” awards gift cards, skincare products or contributions to charity during breast cancer awareness month. The contest gets 30 to 60 participants each week. Facebook is now their fourth leading contributor of Web traffic. Additionally, the collection of YouTube videos has created its own following, establishing the practice as a trusted source of medical information.
  • Integrate your blog. Use your blog to do more than just promote your practice. Talk about popular topics, cover commonly asked questions and don’t forget to link back to your other social networking vehicles, including Facebook and YouTube.
  • Try out an eBook. This idea also comes from the same plastic surgery practice. They wrote an eBook full of helpful medical information that is not easily found online, careful to not be too self-promotional. After just one month, the practice could attribute six new patients to the publication alone.

Social media gives physicians the opportunity to stay connected with patients and provides a convenient vehicle for those patients to refer them to other potential clients. Additionally, social media helps establish a practice as a trusted resource for information. Reap the rewards of a well-balanced social media strategy for your office.

For more information about how physician offices can utilize social media, attend THE Medical Practice Marketing Event taking place November 8-10 in Orlando. For more information, please email

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