As part of our series of profiling organizations in the region that have successfully leveraged social media to assist in their awareness campaigns, this month we are featuring Dr. Brent Shealer, a solo-practitioner chiropractor whose office is located in the Penn Center East office complex in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh; specifically the Monroeville, Penn Hills, Wilkins Township area.
Dr. Shealer is currently in his tenth year at this location and has helped thousands of people from the age of 1 to 91 regain their health through Chiropractic care. For Dr. Shealer, social media is an integral part of his overall marketing and communications approach to communicate with patients. He took some time to respond to our questions about how he uses social media in his practice as well as offer some social media tips to our readers.
WPHN: What role does social media play in a healthcare organization’s overall marketing and communications strategy?
Dr. Shealer: I think that, from a healthcare facility standpoint, that social media can be used in multiple ways. First, it’s another way that patients, or potential patients, can reach out to you for advice or information. Second, it’s a great tool for both educating the public in general and any patients who you’re connected with on a social media platform. Third, it’s important to also let people see that you are easy to engage and have a social personality that they should feel comfortable in your care such as talk about things that aren’t solely medical or health. Get out of that “professional bubble”—crack jokes and have fun! Finally, it’s an easy way to get word out that can be quickly accessed regarding office updates and happenings. In a nutshell, it should be an extension of your office or facility.
WPHN: Tell us about some of the most common misperceptions medical organizations have about social media marketing?
Dr. Shealer: Generically speaking, too many medical facilities just “don’t get it” when it comes to social media. If they have social media accounts, too often they feel that they can just post information, but not follow up and engage in conversation. That’s not how relationships are built. Doling out information is great, but I think that only scratches the surface on what true social media interaction should entail.
WPHN: How can healthcare organizations better engage in social media?
Dr. Shealer: I think they just need to set aside time in their schedule to do it. Look, we’re all relatively busy people, so even if it’s setting aside 15 minutes a few times a week, or even better would be assigning someone to be the social media consultant (in a larger facility), then it’s a great start. Once you’re in the routine of it, it just flows easily. I also am a firm believer in original content. Write little snippets of advice and share that.
WPHN: How do you use social media to execute a social media campaign to raise awareness for your practice?
Dr. Shealer: I use social media in two ways: As part of my larger SEO (search engine optimization) strategy and as a way to offer advice, tips, and interact directly with people, patients or not. Regarding SEO, I personally write each blog post on my website myself. There’s no cookie cutter service for me. Always having good, original content, and then sharing that and watching it spread on social media, is a great way to keep my office website high on Google searches by creating backlinks and having new site content. I also use Google Analytics to track my website stats. Regarding social interaction, well that’s the core of social media. Sure, I post health tips and other information, but I also jump in and respond to people’s posts and stimulate conversation. I’m also a firm believer in being courteous and polite. For example, on Twitter, if someone mentions me or retweets something I posted, they always get a thank you.
WPHN: What are some of your favorite social media applications/tools?
Dr. Shealer: I’m big into Twitter. I think how quickly, and broadly, you can get information to flow on there is simply amazing. There are folks on there, through simply starting out as simple social interactions, have asked me for medical advice and eventually become patients. I also subscribe to some daily health emails that, upon checking my email in the morning, can easily share to Twitter. Those subscriptions make it easier to have good content to share as you don’t have to really seek it out. I’m also feeling my way through Google +. I have a page and post blog articles on it, as I know it’s an important piece of the SEO puzzle, but I haven’t quite figured out the best way to use it for interaction. Likewise for LinkedIn. And I have just recently created a Facebook page for my office.
WPHN: What things should we absolutely avoid in terms of social media posts and tweets?
Dr. Shealer: From a medical standpoint, I never ever discuss someone’s personal medical situation on the public Twitter. I’m adamant on that. I answer a lot of folks’ health questions, but I always take it to the direct message format. I just don’t know how HIPAA gets tied into that so I’d rather not even risk it. I’ll give general advice all the time on the public Twitter, just not specific questions posed to me about a specific condition. I also think it’s in poor taste to demean other folks’ ideas or thoughts.
WPHN: Any best practices about using social media you can share with the readers?
Dr. Shealer: My general rule of thumb is this: I speak on Twitter the exact way I would speak or carry a conversation in the office. Whether it’s medical advice and tips, chatting about the weather or sports, or asking how someone’s weekend was, it’s always the same to me. Carry yourself on social media the way you do in the office. I’m an outgoing and joking person to begin with, so that probably carries over pretty well into social media.
WPHN: Where can our readers find you on social media?
Dr. Shealer: On Twitter, you can follow me @drbrentchiro. I’m also on LinkedIn, just search for Brent Shealer, and on Google+, I post most on the Shealer Chiropractic page. You can also find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shealer-Chiropractic/169503083113973. I appreciate any and all feedback and likes on any of my social pages.
For more information, visit www.drbrentchiro.com/.