So you have your social media channels, but how do you get followers and begin developing brand loyalty to your practice? Studies show curating a personal connection is key to social media success. 69% of social media users polled said they buy from brands they know, like, and trust. But it’s a fine balance to establish emotional connections online that build value, brand identity and loyalty for your social media accounts without crossing over into the possible pitfalls of oversharing. For a medical practice, it’s potentially even illegal for you to share too much. Here’s our Top 10 Tips of what NOT to do when you are building personal connections on your office’s social media.
1. Don’t Share Any Information that Violates HIPPA
- Don’t share the names of people at your office or any patient identifiers on your social media posts.
- Make sure you have a policy in place to have patients sign a waiver form if you share any photos of patients. Whether you post their names or not, you must have their permission to post their picture.
- A great way to get around this hurdle but still have your patients sharing photos of those great new glasses they bought in your optical is to ask them to post a picture and tag your office! This avoids any potential HIPPA violation since the post was done by the patient themselves.
2. Don’t Share Any Personal Opinions About Your Workplace
- 5:30 patient annoying you by showing up 10 minutes late with a bag full of glasses they want you to read? Don’t post about it. Save the griping for groups like ODs on Facebook; your social media accounts need to be off limits for any negative comments about the office.
- Don’t post any comments about staff, interviewees for new jobs, previous doctors that you don’t like and no longer work with – it’s not only unprofessional, but it could potentially be an issue for a libel lawsuit.
3. Avoid the ISMs (racism, sexism, classism, ageism and etc…)
- Avoid any comment or post that judges others, even if you think it might be humorous
- A great example I saw recently: A doctor that calls his staff’ his girls’ complains on social media that the staff takes offense to this with a humorous photo about raging feminists. Not a good look.
4. Don’t Share Personal Gripes, Complaints, or Rants about Our Profession
- Customer service is a hard field, and we often connect with others in our industry through our office social media accounts. Keep in mind that patients won’t understand those industry gripes you have, and will likely get a bad taste in their mouth about the profession, your office, and your willingness to help your patients. We all hate managed care vision plans; your office social media account isn’t the place for a diatribe.
5. Don’t Share Relationship or Personal Issues
- Your patients do want to personally connect with you, so there is a fine line here about what’s appropriate and what’s not. Relationship status is safest off the table. If there is someone in your family with a major illness or a death in the family, it may be appropriate to share. Ask yourself: does what I’m going to post affect patient care? If the answer is no, best left unsaid.
- With that being said, family photos or pictures with your children or pets are a great way to connect with patients onloine, and if you feel comfortable sharing I would encourage you to let patients in (just like family photos you would put in your exam room!).
6. Don’t Share Anything you do not want online FOREVER
- There are no takebacks in the world of social media. It’s probably never a good idea to take photos a few drinks in to your CE weekend with optometry school friends and share them online.
7. Don’t Share Political or Religious Beliefs
- No, no and no. Keep politics and religion out of the exam room and out of your office social media. We know sometimes patients bring it up with you in the room with, and you have to do your best tightrope walk to avoid these conversations. Online you get to be the one to start the conversations with your posts, so no need to stir up a bunch of headaches!
8. Don’t Share Expensive New Purchases
- New equipment for the office? That’s great news but focus on what the new technology does for patient care and don’t mention anything about cost. Patients will immediately think about that brand new camera you bought when they swipe their card for their copay if you frame the conversation about expense.
- New luxury purchases for your personal life? Keep those off the social media page. It doesn’t matter how great that optometry-themed vanity plate reads, if it’s on the back of a new Porsche your patients will only be thinking about how much of their money went towards your purchase. A close up of the plate is a yes; a full luxury vehicle shot – maybe not so much.
9. Don’t Share Vacation Plans
- We all deserve vacations, but best not to broadcast it on social media in real time. It is an invitation to break into your home or business. Only post images when you are back (featuring your great new sunglasses for the trip of course!).
10. Don’t Share Anything That Wouldn’t Make Your Parents PROUD
- This is really just a rule of thumb for all social media. If you feel that your parents will disown you, I guarantee your practice and profession will as well.
- Think about this when you reply to other social media accounts or post on public message boards. We all get fired up about online articles improperly defining our profession or misrepresenting what we do, but make sure your responses online are measured and respectable. These posts will always be tied to you, and your patients will likely see them at some point, so speaking in language or a tone that is respectable and nonconfrontational is important.