Once you have your Twitter account set up the question that follows is, “What do I do with it?” The worst thing is to just begin sending out random tweets with no real goal in mind for them. As with Facebook, blogs and other social media you need to have a plan. Set up a regular schedule to send tweets that will get noticed and shared. Here are of some of the ways to use Twitter effectively.
Engage Patients in a Continuing Conversation
Dr. Pauline Chen started the practice of doing follow-up with patients through Twitter almost from the day the service launched. A plastic surgeon, for example, can set up a list of patients on Twitter who have all had the same procedure. The surgeon can then tweet occasional words of encouragement or reminders about post-operative care. Perhaps there is a patient you want to encourage to return for a follow-up exam, twee them a gentle reminder. Many medical practices are now using tweets as an additional appointment reminder.
Monitor Negative Tweets and Respond to them Quickly
Just as with blogs, there should be someone tasked with monitoring what is being said about you and your practice on Twitter. That person can then respond in minutes rather than potentially hours or days to concerns presented in a tweet. Speedy response not only impresses patients but often produces a resolution to something that is minor but would have become major if left unattended.
Let Patients Know about Last Minute Changes
In on tweet you can let an entire list of followers know about various issues: power outages, schedule changes, etc … With a tweet you can offer a link to visit to explain the problem or an alternative phone number to call if your phone service should go down.
Maintain Contact with Former Patients
Tweets keep you in the mind of patients who have visited you in a while. This not only cultivates good relations but serves to encourage them to retweet your messages to their followers. Once again, this created organic visitors to your blog and web site.
Return the Favor on Follows
It isn’t mandatory to follow those that are following you but it certainly is a good practice. There are some good third-party tools that can automate following your followers. SocialOomph is one such service that will automatically make you a follower of anyone who is following you. The service costs a minimal fee, will save you a lot of time and make you look like a hero in the Twitter universe.
You may have a patient who is a real estate agent. If they are following you, return the favor and follow them. It’s good manners and brands you as a physician who cares about the daily lives of your patients. Who knows? It may also give you a lead on that house you’ve been looking for as well.