In the digital age, everyone is online, whether they know it or not. Controlling your online profile and ensuring accuracy is crucial as you develop your own unique brand – yourself.
In this brave new world, the focus is on digital. Everything has moved online – gone are the days of the Yellow Pages and VHS – instead, we have Yelp and Netflix. Your medical records are digitized, and doctors can send patient data back and forth at the speed of Ethernet.
Your personal and professional data is also online – whether you are aware of it or not. Haven’t Googled yourself? It’s time to take five minutes and delve into your online profile – which if you haven’t been controlling it, has taken off without you.
Websites abound where anyone can upload anything – including information and opinions about you that may are may not be accurate, flattering, or plausible. Online reviews have replaced traditional word of mouth as people turn to online sites and social platforms for advice on everything from what medications to take to which doctor to visit, and the only way to stay in control of your online image is to dive in and wrest control back in to your own hands!
Think this is an overstatement? According to BrightLocal, 79% of consumers trusted online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends in 2014 – a 7% jump form 2012 – and the numbers only continue to climb. Over 30% of Americans now look at online review websites when seeking out a doctor or specialist. You should consider your profession to be a company, your name to be a brand, and yourself to be its CEO. You are responsible for reputation management, marketing, and promotion of yourself!
Scared of using social media on a professional level? Thousands of doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other health care professionals initially shied away from online forums and platforms fearing repercussions for some amorphous regulation faux pas – but today’s web-based world has finally started to catch up with the security protocols and guidelines needed to navigate the web without fear of a misstep.
Still not convinced? Look at these stats:
• 40% of consumers say that information found through social media affects how they deal with their health. (Mediabistro)
• 90% of 18-24 year olds would trust medical information shared on social media networks. (Search Engine Watch)
• 42% of health care professionals use social media for job searches. (Becker’s Hospital Review)
• 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. (Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)
• 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients. (Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)
• 66% of doctors are using social media for professional purposes (EMR Thoughts)
Social media and online marketing tips can help you establish your brand and secure your reputation. These ten steps deliver massive return on investment when you compare the time you put in to the results that you get out!
Twitter can be an extremely valuable marketing tool, but far too many health care professionals – while they are eager to use Twitter for personal use – shy away from implementing the platform in their professional life. Your profile should deliver a relaxed yet professional vibe, and offer high value information in the tweets you choose to publish. Follow “thought leaders” in your field, create lists of followers in different interest areas, and interact with a relaxed professionalism comparable to the feel and tone you would use if you were hanging out at a casual work function.
Facebook also gives you a chance to engage with people who are seeking health care professionals they can relate to and whom they can trust. If you don’t want to create a separate Facebook Page for your brand, modify who can see your Facebook posts and create custom audiences. You can also join Facebook Groups and Like Facebook Pages in order to interact more specifically in settings that are created for professional idea sharing and networking. You can always set up a Facebook Page yourself and use it in a more pro-active manner down the line to position yourself as an expert in a specific area.
LinkedIn is often referred to as the resume of the internet – so make your profile as impressive and approachable as possible and keep things you post on that platform extra professional. A future contact or job offer could easily end up coming from LinkedIn networking, so expand your reach as much as possible by making connections.
Google+ allows you to create profile and then add people you want to interact with to “Circles.” Circles allow you to maintain both a social and professional presence on Google+, dividing your audience into personal and professional vectors. Google Hangouts is Google’s free chat messaging platform, that lets you carry one chats, calls,a nd even video calls with other people in your contacts, and Google email as well as YouTube are designed to work seamlessly with the platform, letting you sync and share effortlessly.
Doximity is a social networking site created primarily for physicians and nurse practitioners, and (in addition to acting as a more elite social site) it provides a way for its members to earn CME credits, use HIPPA compliant email/fax services, and much more. It’s become the premier peer to peer network for health care professionals.
You can also join one or more health care professional associations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) or the American Nursing Association (ANA). These associations connect you with other members, help you stay on top of breaking news and advances in technology, and can also lead to career opportunities and online medical certifications. You can use online search to look for “professional health association” along with your specific field of interest to link up with others in your area of expertise.
Blogging is a great way for you to share your ideas, experiences, and thoughts with the public. You can choose the most popular blogging platform in the world WordPress) or go for a simpler platform like Blogger or a fun, hip presentation like Tumblr. Running your own blog lets you be in complete control of what is published and promoted under your name, and you can build your presence over time by promoting your blog on your social networks and sharing posts on LinkedIn and other sites.
You can also look for opportunities to publish guest blog posts on blogs belonging to hospitals, medical centers, or any health care related institutions in your area or connected to your place of study or work. You can also find opportunities to guest blog through your contacts on LinkedIn. Make sure your blog post presents you as the expert you are positioning yourself to be.
Create a Website
Websites have become easy for even non-technical web users to build, thanks to domain registration and hosting services like GoDaddy and simple website builders. You can get a domain name (such as yourname.com) for as little as $13 a year and use WordPress to build your website – WordPress.org will even let you combine your blog and website and walk you through the process of choosing theme, and installing plugins that make running your site easy. Make sure you pay special attention to your ‘About Me’ page (this is your main brand representation!) and link your social profiles in so people can easily find out more about you.
You can use your social profiles, blog, and website to build an email list, by encouraging people to sign up for a newsletter. Sign up for a email management service like Aweber or MailChimp, and input your email list – then it’s just a matter of drafting your newsletter once a week or twice a month, and sending your subscribers your blog posts, weekly updates, and links with descriptions of interesting articles you feel they’d be interested in. It’s all about providing value.
Take ownership of your online persona, and build a profile and a brand that represents all of the best you have to offer! You don’t have to do all of this at once, but if you devote just ten minutes a day, or an hour a week, you can start creating the image you want to project and ensure that anything about you online is managed as much as possible by your guiding hand.
Remember, it behooves you to talk about yourself online – because if you aren’t speaking up for yourself, then someone else is speaking up about you!