Most physician groups and large firms do. Independent and small operators? Not so much.
In 2008, we advised three of the largest hospital groups in Dallas-Fort Worth, Baylor Health Care System, Texas Health Resources and Children’s Medical Center to embrace Facebook and exponentially leverage their expertise. Fearing negative engagement in an open forum environment, while tending to daily challenges, all passed on our recommendation, stating, “It’s too risky.” Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find any such entity without Facebook and Twitter presence. For the record, all three of the aforementioned organizations launched Facebook Pages and began engaging by March 0f 2009.
Non-profit hospital entities have undertaken massive budget cuts necessitated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare. An array of social media platforms, robust blogs and events have replaced big media buys as the most cost effective method of not only reaching, but also engaging, consumers.
Easy to Say, Hard to Do
Most organizations have a treasure -trove of content, most of which is buried in their websites. In 2013, a 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl, purchased at a garage sale for $3, sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $2.2 million. Your content probably doesn’t have much value, but unearthing interesting and useful content, then sharing that information via social media, can exponentially reveal your expertise to thousands of potential clients. FTG found and utilized existing content on one of the three mentioned hospitals above – and their marketing department didn’t even know the content existed.
Professional service providers, especially lawyers and accountants, must be more mindful than most of the content they share. But, that’s absolutely no excuse to not use social media and the exact reason why these professionals should go all in on social media. Your competitors likely already are.
Who’s Talking About You
Any firm with a solid website and social presence will attract more leads than a reputable firm that has little or no online presence (and just having a website does not an online presence make).
People do business with people, so expressing your company’s personality and introducing your team to potential clients is critical. While others do the same things they’ve always done to find new business, you can leave competitors scratching their collective heads wondering what happened by using social media to establish your firm’s expertise.
New clients aren’t looking for you in the yellow pages. Most every search starts online, and if you can’t be found quickly with little effort, they’ll find someone else. To be found, you have to be part of the conversation, and the most effective way to achieve this is by consistent distribution of useful and relevant content. Blogs, white papers, Q & A’s, case studies and the like are all good examples of useful and relevant content.
Another example is to replace costly hotel seminars and luncheons with Google Hangouts. Comparatively, there are virtually no costs, and the content is conveniently accessible online (and searchable) forever.
Do or Do Not, There is No Try
Don’t “try” social media. Having an outdated website built on technology that is no longer supported by Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE signals that you are outdated, not just your website. The same goes for Facebook pages, whose last post was weeks or months ago. That’s actually worse than having no Facebook page at all.
The tools are available, and you likely already have the content. All you need now is a strategy that can help you and your organization achieve goals. And just like choosing the right attorney and accountant to help your small business, choose wisely when seeking social media expertise.