Should surgeons use social media, and is it appropriate? This is, I’m sure, a question on your mind. It’s certainly something that I get asked every week, and it’s something that gets discussed on forums and, certainly, in the GMC. There’s a lot of questions around this. Is it ethical?
If you go to most medical guidelines in countries around the world, they’re very grey. That’s why people come to us and ask those questions.
People are often afraid to dip their toes into social media because they’re worried they will get a negative response. They’re very cautious and tend to put out a very veneered surface on social media because they’re desperately afraid to get negative reviews.
So is it right for doctors to use social media?
It’s not for everyone. However, if you have the inclination, I think you should seriously consider it. We can provide some guidelines to help you.
Social media is an opportunity for people to see the real YOU
Social media is an opportunity for you to show people the “real you”, the real you as a doctor, the real team, the real clinic. It provides a nice, solid foundation of third-party credibility and trust.
When people consider you as a potential clinic in the buying cycle, they go to your social media, look at what you’re communicating, and decide, is it real? Are these people the real deal? Are these people who I would like to deal with? Would I have fun dealing with them?
Now I know that this is the medical field, but at the end of the day, what you’re selling is an elective procedure, so it’s a choice. When somebody is doing something out of choice, they’re looking for a transformation in their lives. They’re looking to go from a before state where they’re not feeling so great about an aspect of their life to an after state where they’re having a wonderful life. So that is, in essence, the buying decision they’re making.
A big part of that improvement is fun. You cannot throw away the fun word. Social media is an excellent platform to demonstrate fun. So what you want to do is leverage the platform to demonstrate valuable content and really embrace the social aspects of communicating with people and having a good time. Invite other people to communicate back about their experience to show that third-party credibility.
Surgeons worry about having their mistakes seen in public
One of the biggest challenges people have when it comes to social media is putting themselves out there. They fear making a mistake and then that mistake becoming something that people comment on or complain about in a public forum where everyone can see. Well, here’s the thing. We all make mistakes.
You make mistakes. Yes, you’re surgeons, but you’re not infallible. Yes, you’re a clinic that aims to deliver a perfect service, but people will make mistakes. So you have to be ready for the idea that everyone’s making mistakes and everyone will talk about those mistakes.
Would you rather be part of that conversation, or would you rather have that conversation take place outside of your awareness?
My argument is, you want to be part of that conversation.
How social media is a lot like a waiting room
Think about it this way. Imagine you have a busy waiting room and there’s a whole bunch of people there waiting to see you. They’ve been waiting a long time. Then somebody gets up and says, “I’m really, really upset about this. I need to see the manager. I have a complaint.”Are you going to engage in that conversation in the busy waiting room and have a big row? No, obviously not. So what you want to do is take that person out of the waiting room and put them into a room where you can have a conversation with them one-on-one. That’s exactly what you want to do on social media.
I want you to get away from this fear that you’re going to have this massive row on social media and fight with all these patients who will complain about you. The key thing is to keep it positive, keep it polite, and always channel anyone who has a complaint on social media into a private forum. Whether it’s a phone call, or a Zoom call, or a one-on-one messenger. That is the approach that I’ve found works well on social media.
People like the fact that you’re honest and real enough to acknowledge an error and attempt to fix it. You shouldn’t really have any other concerns about being on social media, as long as you’re engaged and remain authentic.
People aren’t expecting you to be perfect. They’re expecting you to respond. They’re judging you on how you respond to that negative review or negative comment on your social media. So if you have somebody who’s really active and engaged at the top of your social media, you need to comment back within a day to both the good things and the bad. That shows people that your clinic is really alive and breathing. That can really make a positive impression upon somebody when they consider you in the buying cycle. If you have somebody who can act in that way and be on top of your social media, you should really strongly consider it.