Note to our readers: If you’re a physician using Twitter a lot, you already know what we’re about to tell you – and we encourage you to share it with a colleague who doesn’t tweet, but should. However, if you’re new to Twitter, read on…
We’ve been getting a lot of questions from our healthcare provider clients about what works, what doesn’t work, and what to expect with social media – particularly with regard to getting physicians to actively embrace it. Because social sites are not one size fits all, each platform should be addressed and approached a little differently to optimize the content physicians share and the benefits they derive from having that social presence. That’s why I’ve decided to take each social media property one at a time to discuss how physicians can benefit from “going social.” Today, let’s explore…
Top 5 Ways Physicians Can Benefit from Using Twitter:
1. Boost search engine rankings
According to research from the Pew Research Center, 77% of online healthcare searches begin at a search engine. Because sites like Google, Yahoo! or Bing are the first place internet users go for information, increasing SERPs (search engine results pages) will help patients find you. How does Twitter help achieve better results? Search engine “spiders” comb the internet for keywords, so if you frequently tweet about heart disease prevention and you’re a cardiologist, you will gain higher relevance – and ideally, more web traffic, from searches related to the topics of your tweets. Those tweets will push your name higher in search rankings.
2. “Attend” conferences on your own time
Twitter users are great at “live-tweeting,” which benefits busy people who don’t have time to attend conferences. The beauty of Twitter is that other people do, and they will live-tweet events. To attend virtually, learn the hashtags that conference attendees will use in their tweets. Usually you can find this by going to the conference’s Twitter handle or searching the conference name for the associated hashtags. Then, follow the hashtags to keep up with new developments and information imparted at the event in relative real-time. You might even be able to watch presentation videos or download slides, all without attending the conference.
3. Stay on top of innovative technology
Many medical journals or healthcare publications will publish links to research or news stories, and Twitter is a great place to stay on top of breaking news without visiting multiple news sites. Staying informed without spending lots of time is much easier with Twitter. If you find interesting content on Twitter, share it. Chances are your colleagues will enjoy it also.
Another Twitter advantage is the ability to “favorite” stories of interest. If you see an article you’d like to read but are short on time, click the star below a tweet. It will be saved under “favorites” for when you have more time to read.
Twitter is a great tool for networking with fellow physicians who share research, advice, reviews and opinions you may find useful. You can also use Twitter as an observation tool to see conversations between colleagues and notice what competitors or other physicians are doing online. This is particularly beneficial as you’re getting used to Twitter and learning the lingo.
5. Gain visibility not tied to ad dollars
To gain visibility on Twitter, you’ll have to consistently use Twitter, share content others find valuable and spend a couple of minutes here and there engaging with other users. With greater visibility, you will gain followers and boost your SERPS without spending ad dollars. Think about it this way: sometimes, a retweet from a follower to a large audience can have a much broader reach than paid advertising.
Getting the hang of Twitter might take some time. At first, it can look like a digital land of gibberish filled with RT (that’s retweet, by the way) and symbols like @ and #. Gaining followers will also take some time. The most important thing to remember is to use Twitter at your comfort level. If you don’t have much to say, that’s fine. You can still follow hashtags that interest you and see what your colleagues are saying. Have fun and feel free to follow us @DobiesGroup.