There has been a bit of hubbub in the social media world after a study on professional usage of social media was published by small business community, Mantra last week. Looking at 1,200 of their users, Mantra has concluded that while small businesses are beginning to spend more time using social media, they still don’t see enough value to dedicate exclusive resources to it, with 61% of those surveyed saying they see no return on investment from their social media efforts.
Clearly, if your passion (and career) center around social media marketing and use, studies like this are not things you want circulating the Internet. Social media marketer and blogger, Mark Schaffer, issued a response to Mantra’s report, citing a narrow sample group among its issues. Looking beyond this particular study, the value of social media is called into question quite often. Yes, the effect of social media outreach can be difficult to see, but it is certainly there. Which begs the question, how do you define and measure the value of social media?
Have you ever felt like the order of posts on your Facebook News Feed follow no rhyme nor reason? Perhaps you’ve been perplexed that older posts were surfacing at the top of your feed. Have you questioned how that close friend could possibly be able to post that often? As explained in a very helpful infographic from beta social media publishing tool, PostRocket, the Facebook News Feed actually follows some complex rules.
The Internet has been buzzing this week about Google’s announcement that it will retire Google Reader in July along with a number of other products. Many of the products getting the axe make sense (Google Building Maker, Google Cloud Connect) as under utilized offerings that the company would want to pull investment away from. However, as anyone who spends a lot of time digging through online content knows, and outcry online proves, Google Reader is a valuable tool for a lot of people. Why pull the plug then? In a social media saturated world, Google has declared the RSS dead.
At the conclusion of each calendar year, people make ‘New Years Resolutions’ in anticipation of the new year. While typically these resolutions are based on self-improvement goals, the new year is a good time to reflect upon your practice’s progress over the past year and plan how you want your business to develop in 2013.
1. Engage in social media
Social media is the easiest way to make your mark online. This year, make it a goal to utilize the big three social media tools; LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter on a consistent basis.
2. Facebook. Make a Facebook page for your clinic, continually update it, and encourage your patients to like it.
3. Get on Twitter. Create an account and follow other physical therapy related accounts. Stay up to date on the latest industry news, enter into conversations with other therapists, practices, etc. and create, discover and share your ideas with others.
4. Update your LinkedIn. Create an account for your clinic and join physical therapy related groups, connect with other practitioners, participate in discussions and establish your credibility as a practitioner.
5. Blog. This year, make it a goal to enter the blogosphere and share what you know through a blog. There is no point in being skilled in your profession if you people don’t know about your skills. For physical therapists, blogging is a great way to promote your clinical expertise and increase the overall awareness of your practice. For your patients, your blog can answer any questions they may have about their diagnosis, help explain the treatment plans, and explain the rehabilitation process in greater detail through introducing video posts or detailed content. Blogging will allow you to reach a wider audience and improve your online visibility, thus improving your reputation as a physical therapist.
The social media world was abuzz last week when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Randi (former head of marketing for the company) mistakenly posted a family photo to her entire Facebook following rather then just select friends. She was not aware this had happened until the photo was Tweeted publicly by one of her followers. Ms. Zuckerberg was none too happy and a Twitter scuffle about social media etiquette ensued.
Since the photo was not intended for public viewing, I won’t post it to avoid further propagation. You can view both the photo and Tweets here, however (kudos to Mark for keeping the signature hoodie on even at Christmas dinner). Both parties deleted the photo and Tweets, however many news outlets and websites captured them prior. While Randi is a person of interest in the tech world, this just goes to show that things posted online never really go away, even if you delete them.
Think of the last new patient you treated- how did they find you? Chances are they probably searched for your services online. As practice management guru Dennis Bush points out in our PT TV episode on referrals, the majority of younger patients, who often do not have a primary care physician, are turning online to find healthcare providers. Even those patients who are referred by a doctor will do a quick Google search to size up their suggestion. And informed patients in direct access states are skipping the prescription all together and searching directly for you.
Needles to say social media has become a very important aspect of a successful PT career and practice. Social media platforms are increasingly powerful networking tools, giving you a tremendous opportunity to build your practice, source new patients, score your dream job and manage your online reputation. Here are some tips to help you boost your visibility and build brand and credibility
Be Alert. Be Proactive.
Ignorance isn’t bliss for PTs online. It is critical to pay attention to and improve how you are being represented online. Even if you are not very active on social media sites, content about you and your practice is likely on the internet. You can protect your reputation by ensuring that patients and doctors who search for you find good information rather than negative reviews and comments. Here’s how to get started:
Unless you are a living version of TV’s MacGyver who can get just about anything done with a paper clip and a stick of gum, you utilize a variety of tools to gain a specific outcome. Hammers are best used for driving nails, Thera-Bands for resistive exercises, your EMR for scheduling, billing and documentation. This is exactly how I suggest you look at using Twitter. There are a number of things that Twitter is really good at facilitating, particularly for PTs.
UNClutter your Content
We had the pleasure of sitting down with some practice management experts at the APTA’s annual Private Practice Section conference in Las Vegas this weekend to discuss some of their tips and tricks for an episode of PT TV. One of their main reasons for using Twitter? Finding content. All agreed that Twitter has replaced an inbox of newsletter subscriptions and bulky RSS readers as their go-to way to find and sort through content.
Move over GRE and NPTE, there’s a new career impacting score that demands your attention. Your online influence. Websites, like Klout and Kred, are now in the business of assigning a number to your social media usage. In turn, marketers are using these ratings to gain attention from social media’s elite, often rewarding them quite well, from free plane tickets to VIP passes into Las Vegas nightclubs.
If you’re suddenly having flashbacks to the popularity contest that was high school, you aren’t alone. Many consumers and even industry insiders have spoken out against these scoring systems, claiming they only benefit advertisers. While no one in our office would say no to an all expenses paid trip to Sin City, this is not why we think you should be paying attention to online scoring systems. What measuring online influence really boils down to is how findable and approachable you are online. This is how you acquire loyal advocates, whether they be colleagues or patients singing your praises. And the good news is, now is just the time to make your mark.
Social Media, The Great Equalizer
Mark Shaffer, author of Return on Influence and self-proclaimed influence obsessive, has been quoted in the New York Times and featured on MSNBC as a marketing expert. This wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, he says, you would have never heard of Mark Shaffer. What changed? Just one thing: “I am able to create, and move, my content.”