This audio was originally published by Data Trace Publishing Company as part of their special issue of Foot and Ankle Quarterly, called ‘Podiatry and Medicine in the Age of Social Media. The complete FAQ issue can be purchased and used for CME credits at www.datatrace.com.
Dr. T 0:00
Owners of a direct care practice are more likely to experience higher job satisfaction than the insurance based practice. And it's no wonder why direct care is independent of insurance. Patients pay the doctor directly for their expertise, the doctor gets full autonomy in how they care for patients and how they get paid. They have chosen this path with a love of medicine. This is the direct care way.
Dr. T 0:24
By listening to this podcast, you may even start to believe that you too can have a successful direct care practice. Come listen with an open mind as I share my personal journey and how I pivoted from an insurance based practice to direct care right in the middle of the pandemic. And the valuable lessons along the way. This podcast may be the very thing you need to revitalize your medical practice. I'm your host, owner of a direct care podiatry practice Dr. Tea Nguyen.
Dr. T 0:52
I have a special gift for you. Every week, I try to put together valuable information that you can start implementing right away as you start to build your direct care practice. Now for some of you, this might just be informational, while others, you are actually taking the steps to convert your insurance based practice into higher cash paying people into your practice. Or maybe you're looking to pivot completely out of the insurance game and you want to go 100% Cash, wherever you are in your practice journey, I will always encourage you to promote your business through social media. And I was invited to speak on this for foot nickel quarterly in a special issue they have called podiatry and medicine in the age of social media. So you can listen to the original audio that was published by data trace publishing company. And you can also purchase the issue and receive CME credits at WWW dot data trace.com.
Dr. T 1:49
The information will be in the show notes. And I hope you enjoy this recording because it tells you everything you need to know to start your social media presence as a way to attract cash paying patients for your services. And this is the most powerful tool we have to date to increase our presence and attract cash paying clients or patients. So I hope you enjoy this special gift that I have for you. Thank you so much for sticking around. And here we go. Hi, this is T when and I'm a podiatrist in California. And I was invited to speak on how I built my social media presence. And I'm actually really excited to share this with you because social media is a really powerful tool if it's done correctly. In general, building your social media presence is easy. And I'll speak to in the sense of building it for my practice. Social media is basically free marketing. So it's almost silly to not use it to not engage in it as a way to leverage your personal brand or even business. I have started my Instagram account about five to six years ago, when I completed my fellowship program.
Dr. T 3:07
This was when I recognized it as an opportunity to educate my friends and family about what I was doing because they would ask, so what do podiatrists do? And I thought, what better way to show them than with visual pictures of patients who walked in what I encountered, what I treat, how they were healed, and so on. Those were the early days of social media, I posted what was seemingly normal to me, but turned out to be very graphic for the general public, including my friends and family. And eventually, they decided to unfollow me, which is, which is actually really fine. Because now that I'm using social media more purposefully, it's a good thing that people unfollowed me because that tells me those are not my target audience, my friends and family now know what I do. But in the grand scheme of my business, they're not really my target audience, they already know what I do. So they have access to me directly. In the beginning, I had a lot of free time. So I was relying on my vanity metrics, the likes that I got, the amount of engagement I received from my posts to determine whether or not what I was doing was valuable. And that's kind of a wrong way to look at social media is you know, in saying how many likes and engagements you get, but rather you should be looking at how much value do you put out there. And you know, a lot of people may see what you're posting, but they may not be interacting. They'll probably see what you're doing on their Facebook. And they may stop and read but a lot of people are choosing not to interact with it for various reasons.
Dr. T 4:53
So I wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on how many likes you have for your account. Silent went from using it for pure entertainment for myself, and started to look at it as a marketing tool for my private practice. I started my solo practice in 2018. And I also had a daughter at the time. So I had to learn how to use my time purposefully as a new mom as a new business owner. And also, as an educator, these were my primary areas of focus, which meant I had to be a lot more strategic about social media. And the way I was using social media was to tell stories about patients who sought my help, I wanted to be really present within my social media network, which then expanded from what I was seeing on my side of the story from my side, into how can I connect with more people who might need my services to the other side. So I had to reframe what I was doing with social media. What this has allowed me to do was not just grow my social media presence, but I got to connect with other doctors who might be a potential referral source, or other friends that I wanted to connect with and share patients with. And the idea of marketing is always trying to be top of mind.
Dr. T 6:19
So in order to be top of mind, in the internet space, you do have to engage so that they know you exist. And a lot of people these days, are looking at businesses and their social media account. And that's just another way to bring traffic to bring people into your business. The best part really, is that it's a free marketing tool. Anyone can create an account, and anyone can say anything on any social media platform. So this is going to be a good thing. And this is going to be a bad thing as well. But we'll focus on the good things. And I will get to the things that you should do and should not do in social media shortly. I do want to share that I got to meet a lot of amazing people, a lot of great opportunities came up through social media, including new patient referrals, or old friends becoming my patients, or they are now referring their friends and family even got job opportunities. So a lot can happen on this free space, I started to create a following and meaningful connections when I started to become more purposeful in what I was putting out there. Now some of you might be thinking, I don't want to put my whole life out there, or I don't want to put my stuff out there. And I want to encourage you to reframe what you're doing with social media, you can be on social media with intent. And you don't have to share anything personal that you don't want to, you have complete control over your account. You know, print media these days, and newspaper ads, they're costing 200 to $500 a month just to have one ad in a newspaper. And over time, that's going to cost a lot of money for you.
Dr. T 8:09
Whereas social media, it will cost you $0 If you use it correctly. So for me as far as marketing dollars go, I will be more willing to invest in social media than any other way of advertising. But of course, you know, once you get the budget, you should do a variety of all the different things marketing has to offer. So with $0 Social media is worth investing your time in, but it has to be done with clear intention. At the bare minimum, it's really letting other potential referring resources, know who you are, that you are accessible. And it's a great way to start those referral networks. You'd be surprised at how valuable you really are. To those of us in social media. You don't have to dance, you don't have to show your half naked self to make it work. So you don't need to really put yourself out there if you don't want to show that side of you. So here's my take on building your social media presence. The six steps I have to share with you includes number one, how to start social media. Start with your intent. Number two, can you get patients with social media? I will answer that for you. Number three, the do's and don'ts of social media. This will be a short list Don't worry. Number four, using social media to your advantage. I think you already got a really good idea of what it can do for you. Number five, what to look out for in social media.
Dr. T 9:47
And number six, what's next on the horizon. So let's dive right in. Number one, how to start social media. First of all, go with intent. Why do you want to be on social media discover what your reason why is for me, it started as entertaining my friends and family. And then I positioned it to be educational material. So on social media, whatever platform you decide, you want to focus on these two things, number one, educating. And number two, add a little bit of flair, a little bit of entertainment. And that doesn't mean you have to bust out some new dance moves or anything like that. It could just be like storytelling as if you were having lunch with a friend. And you can say, Hey, by the way, I have this really cool case, do you want to hear about it. So it's a super casual space to share valuable information. Which also means you don't have to put out statistics, I think a lot of us are bound to the scientific literature, and how we speak amongst each other colleagues. But when you're delivering information to the public, you want to be very concise, and to the point.
Dr. T 11:00
And in a way that sounds conversational, so that people find you to be inviting, so that they would want to engage with your account. So if you don't yet have social media presence, or you don't know where to start, or you're on social media, but it's kind of haphazard, like you're in and out. The number one thing I would advise anyone to do as they're starting, is to just pick one social media platform, there are a lot way more than I can even count. But the top ones I think that are worth investing in, are the ones that carry the most return on investment, or rather, has the biggest audience. And social media is really dynamic, you know, one company is always acquiring another company or a new thing comes up. But as of this recording, I would highly recommend starting on Facebook, YouTube, and Tik Tok. I'll explain why. Number one, Facebook, there's a lot of drama around Facebook. But if you're using it for your business, it's, it's really worth doing. There's a lot of Facebook support groups that you can be a part of that you can contribute to. And it's a really nice way to grow your business presence. And if you want to know how valuable Facebook is, to date, there are 2.9 billion users on Facebook, billions. And maybe your business only needs 500 people. So imagine what you can do if you mastered a platform that already has billions of users. And that's why I choose Facebook as your number one social media product to start with. And it's super easy because you create the account and you can write a post, and then you press enter, you don't have to dance, you don't have to put together a pretty flyer, although you can do all that if you're already doing that. But that would be a good place to start. The second platform to consider is YouTube. YouTube has a 2.6 billion active users.
Dr. T 13:17
Now YouTube is a different game, because you do have to upload videos. And it does take a little bit of practice to even create these videos. But it's worth considering. If you're looking to leverage free social media to get a bigger audience to get in front of a bigger audience. What I really love about YouTube is that whatever video you upload and create, those links are shareable. So imagine all the times you have had a conversation with a patient, maybe by video or zoom, these types of interactions with consent can be uploaded to a YouTube account. And then that link can be shared to anyone who might have an interest in the topic you're talking about. So for example, anytime I'm invited to speak with another specialist, and we do it on a zoom, call, that Zoom call gets recorded, and it gets posted on YouTube. And then if we have potential patients or even friends and family who have a question around the topics we talked about, I just share that link with them. YouTube does require a little bit more work if you wanted to refine it, but just getting started so that you get an idea of what exists. Or just looking at other accounts that already exist. There is a really great way to start. And then the third platform is tick tock tick tock has 1 billion users active users worldwide. The reason I got into Tik Tok was because of the virality meaning the ability to get in front of more people faster than what I had Started with which was Instagram. I think in one topic, it was toenail fungus, that happened to be the most popular and most engaged video that helped me increase my visibility. Now, keep in mind, you don't really know what's going to work for you until you actually try these different platforms.
Dr. T 15:19
But commit to sticking to just one. And learning the algorithm that hashtags, seeing what your target audience engages with, and then use it as a research tool, you're not going to get it perfect or right the first time none of us do. But you're going to be in the research phase. And so those are the top three that I suggest starting your social media presence with. Although I started with Instagram, I'm moving on to other platforms. And I'm seeing huge benefits for them as well. Number two, can you get patients with social media? The answer is yes. But it's unreliable. Social media is like dating, you see something you like you interact with them, you then get to a point where you feel comfortable and asking them out, aka ask for a referral. And so it's not like a quick fix to your marketing program. It's you know, marketing is a multimodal approach, you do have to do different things, not exclusively social media, but also community networking, and so forth. So I have gotten patients from social media, I've gotten patients who self referred. And I've gotten patients who were doctors on social media, who knows my account, and then they refer to me. So the potential for your business to grow is really unlimited. And this is going to vary based on your own market, and what you have to offer and then how well connected you are in your own market. So I don't think that there's just one platform that is a homerun is still requires consistent effort, new materials to be produced.
Dr. T 17:00
And when you're ready, and you feel comfortable, and you want to continue with social media, you can outsource this to a social media marketing team. And that could be a virtual assistant or a local business to take over for you. But in the earliest stages, just planned for brand awareness. And over time, you can build trust, and eventually referrals. But also most importantly, helps you practice your message your offer to the public. So it's actually pretty good in the beginning to practice your marketing message in this way. Because then you can get the feedback from people, you can tell if people got the message, or it was unclear, and you have to refine it, and so on. So again, treat it like a research project. Number three, I have a couple of do's and don'ts. When you're on social media, top three things that you should do on social media. Number one, do you connect with similar businesses, preferably locally, because that just makes the most sense. People who are local, are likely to travel to your office, and are willing to be new patients. Number two do tell stories, you really want to minimize the self bragging part where you're talking about all of the licensed things you earned, and the educational and IT certifications and all that like that's important to us. But that's not necessarily important to the public.
Dr. T 18:29
In general, everyone is tuned into themselves. So the public doesn't really care that much about the different certifications you may have. Because that's what they expect, they expect you to be the best there is that's just kind of what's demanded of doctors in general. So instead, try to put your message in a way where people feel like you have a solution. So address their problem, and then the solution, and very little about yourself. And then number three of the do's do be yourself but like the professional and relatable version of you don't change who you are. Of course you are human. How do you convey that? Are you a mom or your dad? Are you an athlete? What other things do you do? Do you like to knit? Are you crafty, and think about how that might help your viewer your audience relate to you because it is important to be relatable. But there's also a fine line about how much you want to share about yourself in your business. So there's a little bit of art to that. But nonetheless, people aren't going to your social media demanding you to be perfect all the time. Every now and then you can show the softer side of you if that's what you want. It's not a requirement.
Dr. T 19:48
There are some people who feel really compelled to speak on politically charged topics. And I would caution about that it's really risky to mix Paul text with business. Because as doctors, people come to us for our professional advice, they're not coming to us for our political affiliation or opinions. So just make sure it's in line with your brand, whatever it is you decided to discuss on to the four don'ts I really want to talk about, number one, don't get easily offended, because social media is free. That means anybody can create an account. And they will have the freedom to say whatever they want unfiltered, but you're not obligated to answer or respond to these comments. Just pay attention and kind of check yourself if you get a comment that you don't like it's charging, it makes you want to say stuff like Think twice before you post things online. It's just easier to ignore it. And oftentimes, when I get something that kind of triggers me, I think about it being a robot. And I just leave it at that. So don't get easily offended. Otherwise, I'm not so sure the internet is for you. Number two on the don'ts. Don't hop on to another person's page and promote yourself. It's very strange, just think about like being on a date.
Dr. T 21:09
And all of a sudden, some other person walks by and drops off their phone number. Like it's rude. People have created these communities, these followings with a lot of time and effort. And to have someone to just swing by and just drop off their information. Like, Hey, by the way, here's my contact information. If you want to see a doctor, that's just very strange. So that's just standard etiquette. Know your space. And don't, don't be that person. Number three, don't use fear to sell actually don't even try to sell social media is a place to be entertained and educated. And it's not like what advertising used to be where you generated, you know, a very fearful statement, and then you had something to sell. That is the old school way of marketing. It doesn't work this day and age. And then number four, don't engage in people who are not your ideal client, you can just ignore them or delete it, keep your space clean. And that's that. S
Dr. T 22:09
o you want to use social media to your advantage. But you don't want to let it consume your day to day activities. I've spoken to other doctors who said they don't want to get into social media because they see their friends who are constantly on their phone posting, it feels very intrusive, and so on. And I'm here to tell you, you don't have to do that, you can just do a post, create it and put it aside and then dedicate one day a week where you schedule out your posts or hand it off to somebody else to do it for you. It doesn't have to be consuming. So be mindful about how you're on social media to ensure that you're using your time effectively. So social media does have its bad side. The modern day depression has been attributed to people comparing their own lives to what they see on social media. And I just wanted to remind you that what people post on social media is like the very polished version of people. And you don't have to compare your own business to another person. Please don't. Everyone's on their own journey.
Dr. T 23:11
And so don't get consumed in what you see in other people's business and feel bad about yourself for that. That's not the point of social media, social media for you is going to be a tool to market in. That's it. Number five and how to build your social media presence. This is something to look out for when you're on social media don't directly give out medical opinions, this could be construed or misconstrued as a patient doctor relationship, which then violates HIPAA violations, right? patient privacy. So be aware people may try to ask you for your medical opinion on their own specific case. And people are funny, they will take pictures of their body parts and privately message you in the direct message or DMS and you have the right to either ignore it. Or you can have a short phrase that says for your individualized care, please contact our office at this number.
Dr. T 24:11
Here's a time saver I lived now if you have an iPhone, I'm going to show you how to have short key phrases where you just type out one or two letters, and then you'll have a whole script replacing it. If you go to your phone. If you have an iPhone, go to your phone in the general settings. You click general you go down scroll to keyboard, and then click on Text replacement. You can add with the plus sign a short key so every time I push the letter H T, the automatic response on my phone says schedule a risk free consultation at my phone number and you can do that repetitively instead of having to type the whole thing out. So the ideas work smart, not hard. Alright, next, you're going to be pitched to a lot people are going to want to sell you stuff they're going to want your attention And then they want free medical advice for themselves. They might even send you unsolicited pictures. So these are the instances where you report them, block them in, delete them, and then move on. Now, do you really want to be the person who comments on celebrities, when those celebrities did not consent for you to critique them? I see a lot of influencers do this, I don't do it myself. I have a big problem with this. But it's one way to generate attraction to your account.
Dr. T 25:31
I don't particularly love it because I don't like publicly bashing people or calling out people for various deformities. You know, that's, that's an issue for me. So I don't advise you doing that. There are other ways to gain attention on social media, but calling out a celebrity on their deformity feels really unprofessional. But it is a common thing that people do but just because other people are doing it doesn't mean you have to do it. Another thing to look out for on social media. If you repost something like you saw something, somebody posted that you really liked, and you want to repost it and put it on your own account, always give them credit. Don't be that person who plagiarizes are copies and paste without due credit. There is a Repost app for Instagram, appropriately named repost, where you go into Instagram, you click on the three dots, and you click copy link, that copy link will go automatically into your Repost app, and then that'll attribute the original content for you. So don't be a freeloader. And then last thing about what to look out for on social media. Once it lives on the internet, once you put up a post or make a comment, it does live there forever, even if you delete it. So be mindful about how you respond to people how what you decide to post, even if you delete it from your account, somebody somewhere out there could easily screenshot it and save it and do whatever they want with that material. They can even put it out of context. And this has happened to major influencers, where their faces were used to promote a product illegally without consent.
Dr. T 27:19
And so just be aware of where you might be in the world of social media, this shouldn't be the thing that holds you back from doing social media because there is bigger gains than there is negative. But it's just something to be aware of number six, on how to build your social media presence. What's on the horizon, connecting with influencers is a really good business strategy because they have a huge audience. But just like any other relationship, this does take building up relationships with building up trust. And a lot of that has to do with how often you're online, how often you're posting and how often you're responding to people. So connect with those influencers, get to know them. And maybe you can end up doing a collaboration together if you start diving deep into social media. And if you're very strategic, you can monetize your social media. what that could look like is maybe a brand that you commonly use reaches out to you or you reach out to them and say, hey, I'll do a post promoting your product, and you can charge for that post. So really, the sky's the limit on what you can do with social media, it costs you $0 Just your time. And if you're at a time just outsource it, hire a virtual assistant or a marketing director to take this over for you because it can get consuming, but it can also provide the benefit of being in front of more people, more opportunities and more patients. I hope you enjoy this episode. And I certainly hope that you take advantage of social media. If you want to follow me on Instagram. Look for Dr. T but I agree that as Dr. T A underscore podiatry, and I'm also on Tik Tok and Facebook. I hope to see you on the social media side. Take care.
Dr. T 29:07
Thank you so much for being here with me. If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, please like, share and subscribe so more people like you can have access to another way of practicing medicine, that direct care way. Let's connect find my info in the show notes and send me your questions. That might be the topic for future episodes.
Dr. T 29:26
And lastly, if you remember nothing else, remember this be the energy you want to attract. See you next time