You already know the importance of an online presence for doctors, so the next obvious thing for us is to tell you how you can leverage the internet to market your medical practice, without opening your wallet.
Update: Download this guide! Free E-book: How to market your medical practice online
We can segregate online activities and media under the following heads when it comes to marketing your medical practice for free on the internet:
Social media (large virtual communities) will outpace every other form of media in the coming years, given its spectacular growth in the last decade. Its ability to engage and influence large masses in no time is the reason why every advertiser and business needs to be on social media. As a doctor, here are some popular social networks you should definitely be present on:
The largest social network, Facebook has unmatched reach and penetration for small and large businesses to engage and interact with its customers. As a clinic, you should get started by creating a Facebook Page for your business. You can then add photos and clinic information, and even invite your friends and patients to join the page.
Once you have setup the page, it is time to start accepting online appointments through your Facebook Page. That’s right! You can turn your Facebook Page into your clinic’s storefront without spending a single penny.
Linkedin is the world’s largest social network for professionals across all fields, which you can make use to:
- Connect and collaborate with your peers
- Reach out to specific target audiences by joining specific groups and following specific company pages.
You can get started by creating your own profile followed by a Linkedin Page for your clinic. After filling out the requested information, you can start following a few pages and groups.
Pro Tip: If you have a clinic located near a specific office, you can follow that company’s page and focus your marketing initiatives to tap its employees.
The world’s second largest social network forms the social layer of a plethora of services powered by Google that can help you market your medical practice for free in multiple ways. Setting up a profile on Google Plus or Google + is similar to any other social network, except that you compulsory require a Google or Gmail ID. Having set up your profile, jump to creating your clinic page on Google Plus right away. Chances are that your clinic might already be present on Google Maps, which means that all you have to do is connect that listing with your Plus Page. If not, start by creating a listing on Google Maps which will be very beneficial when anyone searches for a specific doctor in your vicinity.
Often referred to as the world’s largest micro-blogging site, Twitter is the place to be when it comes to engaging one-on-one with brands, companies and key-people. As a doctor with a private clinic, all you have to decide is who would you like to promote more – your clinic or yourself. Once you have made that decision, create a twitter profile for your clinic or yourself. You can then start searching for your peers, industry leaders and patients to follow them and engage in conversations. Use #hashtags to communicate effectively and also to search for specific trends.
Blogs are your personal entries that can be viewed by your followers, target audience and the general internet public. WordPress and Blogger are two popular blogging platforms. A blog that add value to your patients or fellow doctors can get you many visitors to your blog. As a clinic, you can blog about general medical advice which will be helpful to your patients and prospective patients, symptoms of common infections, first aid and safety measures, recent studies or advances in medical science and even any update about your clinic. The more quality blogs you write, the more the number of people will follow it and even quote it, thereby increasing your online popularity. You can gradually start leveraging your blog for marketing your practice by showing a small advertisement of your clinic, offering a coupon, requesting the visitor’s contact information (so as to reach out to him) and even adding a widget that lets patients book appointments directly online.
An online forum is similar to a message board where users can leave messages or ‘posts’ which can be replied to and commented on by other users. Online forums usually revolve around a select audience that has something very specific in common. For example, there could be a forum dedicated to dentists in a specific geography or a forum dedicated to a patients of a particular ailment or disorder. These forums are abuzz with questions, debates, opinions and general information which helps you in networking with your peers and customers along with generating your fan following by contributing effectively in the forum’s discussions. Most online forums keep score of how many discussions does a member take part in and how many of those posts were considered useful by other members. Based on how the members rate you, your privileges and authority in the forum increases, adding credence to your online presence. Quora is an example of an online forum with a social media twist. It lets members ask any questions to experts in a particular field which are then answered by those experts and even other members. To market your clinic, you can sign up on Quora and follow questions related to your field and try to answer as many of them.
There are dozens of generic online classifieds that let you create a listing for free. Make the best use of these generic classifieds by creating a profile and updating all required information. The more number of websites you are present on, more the chances of prospective clients meeting you through online means. Apart from the run-of-the-mill classifieds, make sure you also register your clinic on India’s largest doctor search website – Practo.com. It costs absolutely nothing to register on Practo.com and you can get direct get appointments online.
We hope that this post was helpful for you to get started with marketing your medical practice online. As a bonus, here are three tips that will come in handy, when you get started:
- Keep a .csv file of the email addresses of all your patients. You can upload this file to a lot of social networks to invite your patients to directly connect with you. If you do not have a record of email addresses, then it is high time you get started.
- Click some good pictures of your clinic and never miss an opportunity to upload them online and fill out complete details. Profiles with pictures and complete information always score over incomplete profiles.
- Make sure you share all your blog posts on social networks and even with your potential clients. This will build trust and in due course promote your practice online.
- Download this guide to use as reference: Free E-book: How to market your medical practice online