No need to be anti-Social Media: it can make you friends in high places

The BMA has recently issued guidelines for doctors on the use of social media entitled Using Social Media: Practical and Ethical Guidance for Doctors and Medical Students, leaving me to believe that the uptake amongst healthcare professionals for the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media channels is on the increase. If so, the time is right for companies wanting to engage with the medical profession to seriously think about their social media strategy. Marketing is no longer a one way street, it’s a two way channel and it’s all about interacting with your audience. Social media is a great way to build relationships with your customers, understand what they really need, and respond in real time to their enquiries.

Here are a few rules to help you engage with your audience in the most appropriate and impactful way:

1) Avoid the hard sell

Selling too hard is one of the biggest issues that can cause your social networking campaign to fail. People don’t frequent the social media scene to be hit with hard sales tactics or spam. If tweeting, don’t try to make a sale with every post. The same holds true for Facebook. It’s fine in certain circumstances to mention products and services, but punctuate those posts with other items of interest.

2) Interact and respond

Businesses which succeed in social media are those that maintain high levels of customer service through listening and responding to what people are saying about their brand. Engage with your target audience by asking them for their input. If someone asks you a question, make sure you respond. If you ignore people it will only frustrate them and cause them to have a negative experience of your brand.

3) Be engaging

Tone, content and language should all be tailored according to whether the recipient is a customer, a prospect, a fan or a detractor – using a universal approach will only alienate people further. Failure to humanise contact through personalisation and targeting can result in very low or no engagement around a campaign – or worse, a significant negative impact.

4) Give credit to others

Another great way to get noticed and build your reputation is to share the work of others. It’s a good way to make connections with people in your industry and hopefully they will return the favour one day. The rise of re-tweeting shows how far giving credit to others can go in social spaces.

5) Add value

Enter any online conversation with the aim of adding value. Before posting a message as a new participant in a forum, ask yourself: Am I adding anything new and valuable to the debate?

6) Be real

Authenticity is the secret ingredient behind any good and valuable social media marketing campaign. If you know your audience, locate them online, listen, add value, respond, refrain from spamming and just be yourself, you’ll have far better and more long-lasting positive results than if you try to be someone — or something — you’re not.
By adhering to these six simple rules, you’ll find that actively engaging with social media can have a positive impact on your company’s brand as well as enhancing your own reputation in the process.

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