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Cover Focus | Jan 2015

Shaken, Not Stirred

Learn to blend the perfect content mix for social media communication.

Did you ever get a mix of tequila, triple sec, and fresh lime juice—a margarita—when ordering a pizza? I did, last summer at a Spanish beach bar, when I asked for a margherita pizza. Great cocktail, great pizza (that I got for free), and great company; that was the perfect mix for an unforgettable afternoon.

In a previous column, I told you about the Twitter teleporter that we created for Erik L. Mertens, MD, FEBOphth. After using it on several occasions, he has expanded his online reach exponentially. During the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) conference in London, for instance, Dr. Mertens reached about 60,000 people through Twitter. This provided great personal branding for the doctor himself, but how can his practice equally profit from the online exposure? The answer is hidden in a great content mix that I call the perfect social media cocktail.

My colleagues at FingerTalks and I have been building an online reputation for Dr. Mertens through Twitter conversations surrounding medical conferences. This conversation is followed and many times retweeted, mainly by his peers. There are clear advantages to ophthalmic specialty posts; however, as a CEO of a private practice, Dr. Mertens wants to reach a broader audience that includes existing and potential patients. In order to accomplish this goal, he must start using more than one social media platform.

MIXOLOGY CONSIDERATIONS

Think about the average patient: Does he or she have either a Twitter or Facebook account, or both? Can he or she be reached best through a blog? Successful social media strategists select the number of platforms to use depending on the preferences of their target groups and on their own resources. Although it is preferable to engage in multiple social media outlets, it is no use having numerous accounts when one does not have the time or budget to maintain them. In such a case, the better strategy is to select and focus on one platform.

The next consideration is choosing what to write about (ie, content). To keep people engaged, content should be diverse and strategically blended. When we create content for our clients, I always keep James Bond's martini preference in mind: “Shaken, not stirred.” In other words, all of the separate ingredients should blend into one homogeneous substance: Smooth but strong—like Agent 007 himself.

Deploying the right content is crucial. Ingredients for successful posts include informational, entertaining, and trust-building content. Put yourself in your patient's shoes. What is the patient afraid of? What could be holding him or her back? And, most important, what would the patient need to overcome his or her doubts and step into your clinic?

Informational content can be practical. These posts can mention one's practice, the people who work there, or specific procedures, or they could include general knowledge about eyesight or health.

Entertaining content consists of elements such as relevant cartoons, quotes, and small quizzes. These posts, however, can also be implicitly informational while entertaining. Testimonials from patients are good for trust-building, as are referrals from other outstanding doctors. For this reason, it is a good idea to share relevant updates from staff members' personal accounts and to retweet when one's peers mention them in a positive way.

RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT SOCIAL MEDIA COCKTAIL

• Select the number of social media platforms depending on the preferences of your target group and on your own resources.
• Keep social media posts diverse and strategically blended; include informational, entertaining, and trustbuilding content.
• Informational content can mention your practice, the people who work there, or specific procedures, or it could be general knowledge about eyesight or health.
• Entertaining content may consist of relevant cartoons, quotes, and small quizzes.
• Good trust-building content includes testimonials from patients and referrals from other doctors.

CONCLUSION

The perfect social media cocktail is an ever-evolving recipe. If you have not yet found the perfect blend, do not worry. There are plenty of excellent cocktails out there that will help you to keep on trying.

Cheers. n

Philippe Bogaert
- Cofounter and Director of Sales and Marketing, FingerTalks
- philippe@fingertalks.be
- Financial disclosure: None

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