This post was published on Kevin MD on February 17, 2013

When it comes to attracting new patients using the Internet is crucial. Many people begin their searches for new products and services online. You may have heard before that word of mouth is the best type of advertising. While that is true, it is important to realize that a lot of that communication between people is happening online, rather than in person.

It is important for physicians to use social media to gain new patients. Such sites as Facebook, where millions of people are communicating on a daily basis, are an oasis of word of mouth referrals. Physicians can tap into that if they are actively using Facebook, or other social media tools. Social media provides an effective tool for getting noticed, interacting with, and gaining new patients.

Here are some tips for using social media to attract new patients:

  • Pick a voice. If you don’t yet have a dedicated Internet or social media person, now is the time to choose one. You want to have someone who will be taking care of all social media, so that he or she can keep on top of things, by interacting with others, creating promotions, and handling all aspects of your efforts.
  • Be consistent. Think about what you want to include in your social media efforts and then create a plan. Try to be consistent with what you will be doing, such as posting pictures, questions, interesting facts, and more. That way people know what to expect from your office and can learn a little about your philosophy, mission, and services.
  • Motivate people. Just having a Facebook page is not enough to get people to give your office a call to set up an appointment. You need to let your online followers know that you are accepting new patients and you would appreciate their referrals. Ask them to share your page with other friends who live in your area.
  • Post helpful info. People are always interested in learning more about health issues. Use your Facebook page to offer interesting health news, videos, suggestions, and tips. You can also take a weekly question from followers and post that and the answer each week for people. When people find the information you are posting to be helpful, they are more likely to head to your page when they have a health question.

Using social media you can help you keep in contact with your current patients, and if you follow the tips above there is a good chance that they will be happy to refer you to their friends. By having a Facebook page, or leveraging the power of other online social media sites, you can help build your reputation, earn the trust of people who follow you, and gain new patients. Depending on how you use your social media marketing you can also help to establish yourself as an expert in a particular area. Being active online is an effective way to reach those people who you want to get on your patient roster. Reach out to them online, interact with them, and before you know it, they will be calling your office for an appointment!

Michael Woo-Ming is the founder of RepMD.com.