Starting a Twitter profile is very easy. In many cases, you should select a username that describes your practice rather than using an abbreviated version of your name. Including your location is also a good idea; examples of good Twitter usernames for physicians include “GainesvilleOncologist” or “DermatologyNYC.”
Once your profile is set up, you can use an automated service to gain Twitter followers or pick up followers from those interested in your “Tweets.” You can also use Twitter’s “Find People” feature to search for profiles you’d like to follow (typically those related to or complementary of your practice). Try to keep your ratio of followers to about 1.2 profiles you’re following for every one follower you have. Of course, since you want your patients as followers, put your Twitter username on all communications you have with them.
Now for the fun part – Tweets! It’s helpful to keep a master list of Tweets in Excel or another spreadsheet program. You can also use the software you use to get followers or another program, such as TweetDeck, to write Tweets that will run on a regular basis. This will minimize the time and effort you need to spend on Twitter once you get established. Since Twitter appeals to social media users with short attention spans who just want the bottom line, it’s best to Tweet every day. This is cumbersome and time-intensive without some sort of automated program.
The list of items you can Tweet about is endless. Here are some ideas:
Helpful hints, such as tips for a heart-healthy diet for a cardiology practice or easing the pain of ear infections from a pediatric office
Special events, such as October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month for practices that focus on women’s health
News stories and articles that relate to your practice’s specialty (be sure to link only to credible sites)
Schedules for flu shots or special health screenings
Office hours, as well as any changes in office hours
Holiday closings, as well as closings due to weather
Conferences the physician(s) and staff attend that relate to the practice’s specialty
Even if you use an automated list, you’ll want to tweak your Tweets regularly. For example, a dermatologist’s practice might step up Tweets about summer skin care from April through September. Twitter followers grow weary of seeing the same Tweets over and over; your Tweets will attract more attention if you change them up.
Keep your Tweets professional and general; obviously, Tweets related to particular clients or patients are off-limits. Make it obvious that Tweets come from the practice, not the physician herself or himself, so patients don’t think they’re sitting in the waiting room while their doctor composes Tweets.
For more information go to http://www.practicemanagernetwork.com/