If you’re looking for pointers on how best to use social media for marketing your radiology practice, just go to your favorite search engine and key in the first three words of the headline above. You’ll be deluged with more than a million worthwhile tips in less than a second. It was with this milieu in mind that Health Imaging asked several experts for radiology-specific insights that go beyond the usual for healthcare providers (“Ask your patients to Like you on Facebook”) and the obvious for all businesses (“Post fresh content frequently”). Here are select suggestions from those conversations.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Garry Choy, MD, MBA, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who has nearly 8,000 Twitter followers, points out that the specialty’s association with large, futuristic medical equipment makes for a can’t-miss eyeball magnet. “People do enjoy seeing that stuff, and this can offer an opening to introduce the techs, radiologists and the whole staff,” he says, adding that Facebook friends sometimes come for the sights and stay for the human connections. This principle works as well for other photo-intensive services, such as Instagram, Tumblr and Flickr—and to showcase not only the scanners but also the pictures they produce. “People are fascinated by 3D images from inside the body,” says Choy, “and we also could be doing more with animated GIFs of, for example, functional MRI of the brain, cardiac imaging of a beating heart or dynamic contrast-enhanced studies.”
Try it before you (fully) buy it.
With an entry point of just $5 a day, Facebook advertising facilitates low-risk experimentation with messaging, targeting and audience segmentation. “You can test a hunch for just one day and see what happens, and if your idea takes off you can put together an annual campaign and spend up to $100 a day,” explains Sarah McFarland, communications director and social media specialist with Atlantic Health Solutions, a Florida-based radiology marketing firm. If you’re in a big market and you want your ad to constantly be up, you probably want to be on various outlets rather than all in on just Facebook, she adds. “Everyone is working under lower reimbursement rates, and everyone is trying to do more with less,” notes McFarland, who is also a member of the marketing subcommittee of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA). “Social media gives you so many unique ways to spend just a few dollars and try different ways to get in front of the exact people who are looking for what you have to offer.”
Welcome complaints from patients as opportunities to shine.
Physician practices have proven quite thin-skinned when it comes to receiving negative feedback from patients. That’s unfortunate, because inside the cloud of every gripe on Yelp is the silver lining of a chance to showcase winning customer-service skills. So says Abraham Seidmann, professor of business administration at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. “When a patient posts a negative comment on social media, you have the opportunity to express empathy and tell how you plan to resolve the problem,” he says. “Then, when you have resolved the problem, post a description of that as well. Your silent patients are watching how you treat other patients.” He adds that, no matter how trivial the concern might seem to the clinically minded—difficult parking, uncomfortable temperature in exam rooms, old magazines in the waiting area—every concern posted is an opening to relate, communicate and, yes, win or maintain market share.
Referring docs + patients: Two birds, one stone.
Radiology marketing has traditionally focused on reaching out to referring doctors to the exclusion of patients. Today it’s smart to market on social media to both groups—at once. “In today’s healthcare environment, the patients know they have choice as to where they can go for their imaging,” says Choy. “We have to get in front of patients directly, but of course we cannot forget the referring physicians. They still have to write that order.” Indeed, and a recent report from Ragan’s Health Care Communication News showed that some 60 percent of physicians’ most popular activities on social media involve following what colleagues are sharing and discussing. Choy says Mass General Imaging’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/MGHImaging) draws a steady stream of Likes and comments from referring physicians and their staffs. “We use our presence to market