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What Twitter's Character Update Will Mean for Medical Marketers

What Twitter's Character Update Will Mean for Medical Marketers | Buzz e-sante | Scoop.it

Twitter will likely expand its single-tweet character limit from 140 to 10,000. What impact will this have in the healthcare, Medical Device, and Bio/Pharma industries? How can marketers take advantage of the update in order to generate more leads and boost their businesses? 

Twitter always seems to be in the news, usually because of some embarrassing celebrity mishap or viral gossip. This month, however, the news cycle is buzzing about the platform itself — it would appear that there are some huge changes looming on the horizon for the microblogging service. 

According to Re/code, Twitter will likely increase its famous character limit from 140 to as high as 10,000 — a change that is being referred to on the site itself as #Twitter10K. While many users been very vocal about their concerns with the new limit, we’re more interested about what the impending update will mean for digital marketers within the healthcare and medical industries.

If the rumors are to be believed, Twitter 10K probably won’t have a significant impact on how the service’s timelines look, and will incorporate some kind of click-to-expand feature to keep feeds from becoming overloaded. 

But while the expanded character limit could mean some digital strategy change-ups for hospitals and physicians, for whom Twitter is already an invaluable resource, they shouldn’t fret — Twitter 10K gives marketers a great deal to be excited about. Moreover, the update would be a huge win for Medical Device and Bio/Pharma marketers. Twitter’s 140 character limit has made it difficult for companies to spread their message while still managing to abide by the FDA’s strict guidelines for marketing via social media — the 10K expansion would enable the platform to become an invaluable tool for these industries.

A Win for SEO

One of the biggest knocks against Twitter’s current setup is that short, fragmented tweets are incredibly hard to track and analyze — especially (and most importantly) for Google. This means that no matter how many brilliantly-concocted tweets you send, few of them are likely to end up ranking in a Google search, which is far and away the most common method people use for finding things online. 

However, longer posts afforded by 10K would show up on Google, which means that tweets could generate traffic in much the same way that your hospital’s or medical practice’s blog posts do — searchable by keyword, topic, relevancy, etc. Like any other digital marketing channel, once you post public information to your followers and the rest of Twitter, you’ll automatically be rewarded by Google. 

Importantly, this will likely be a boon for paid ad strategies, because Twitter demographics will be easier to analyze, identify, and target.

The (Potential) Web Traffic Tradeoff

 

Still, there are potential negative effects of such a shift. Currently, most Twitter link traffic is directed off-site to third-party landing pages. This is great for healthcare marketers seeking to drive traffic to blog posts, hospital event pages, and clinical trial sites because they can insert highly-visible links into their tweets and drive traffic to their sites with relative ease. 

But with Twitter 10K, more content will be hosted on Twitter itself, which means that the number of patients linking to your site may decrease — this will also make it a bit harder to track how users are engaging with your content. While the service will likely roll out new analytics capabilities to address this issue, it could be troubling to medical professionals who use Twitter as a primary driver of traffic in their digital marketing strategies.

Why the Update Could Be a Game-Changer

However, the biggest upside — which may negate the traffic issue — is that Twitter-hosted traffic enables marketers to attract a much broader viewership and deliver them considerably more content value. As the FDA has noted, limited-character tweets make it hard to convey detailed and accurate medical information. Medium- and long-form Twitter content, however, would allow medical marketers to engage their audience in substantial, informative, and creative ways, without undermining the trust of their readers by being overly pushy about click-throughs. 

In the healthcare industry, credibility and brand loyalty are key facets of effective patient attraction and retention. So while your current and prospective patients may not be linking through to your site quite as often, you’ll be able to expand your reach and connect with a larger segment of your target audience in a much more meaningful way. This will serve you well when it comes to positioning yourself as a trusted source for solutions to health-related problems, which means more digital interactions, warm leads, and ultimately, more patients through the doors of your facilities. 

Beyond simply giving advertisers more space for their content, an expanded character limit would be a game-changer for medical device and pharmaceutical companies. FDA regulations prohibit advertising for medications or medical devices directly to consumers without mentioning potential side effects and risks — as such, Twitter’s relatively measly 140 character count has kept the platform more or less off limits for those particular industries. Twitter 10K would be a huge win for med-device and pharma marketers, as it would enable them to reach a huge new audience in a highly-targeted, highly-impactful way. 

Despite the fact that the update is not yet officially confirmed (we’ll call it 99% confirmed), we’re cautiously optimistic that it will have a huge impact on the medical marketing communities, and that the benefits will definitely outweigh the potential drawbacks.

 


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6 Recent Digital Health Innovations to Watch

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Is it time to change the way we use social media in medicine?

It’s no secret that social media has now consumed most of our lives. It’s everywhere and there’s really no avoiding it. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a powerful tool and when used appropriately a lot of good things can come out of it. For instance, as a medical student who moved from New York to Los Angeles, it helps me stay connected to my loved ones back home.

However, social media has now expanded beyond the realm of liking photos from your best friend’s wedding. It has been incorporated into a variety of business models. It’s no surprise to me that you can now buy a product by clicking on an Instagram post, or pinning a pin on Pinterest.


Aside from retail, social media has now made headway in the field of medicine. Oftentimes, I scroll through my Instagram feed and see quick 30 to 60 second clips of physicians performing cosmetic procedures on patients (of course, with consent). Physicians also have a growing presence on television as well. Flip through your TV channels or your Netflix guide and see how many new shows and reality series you find documenting the lives of doctors and their practices. Truthfully, I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. I personally love binge-watching episodes of physician-centered reality shows when I have the time, or watching quick Instagram clips of filler injections, “surgery-free” rhinoplasties, Botox injections, and other cosmetic procedures.


With that being said, I can’t help but feel like a lot of the medical messages in social media have been for self-gain. One of my favorite doctors that I like to see on Instagram recently started a new page where she started to post advice. I was glad to see her using her “instafame” to draw attention to more than her practice and the procedures that she offered.

However, within a few weeks, the following on her new page grew and what I thought was going to be an educational page became a platform for her new cosmetic products that she was launching. When I scroll through the feeds of some of the more “popular” physicians, I mostly see advertisements for their practices and products that they sell.

Let me be clear, I am 100 percent in support of entrepreneurship and expanding your network. And I do realize that there are physicians in the media spreading knowledge and vital information, but these days it seems like those posts are few and far between.

Like I said before, social media has revolutionized the way we live our lives and the way we teach, communicate, learn, and conduct business. However, I think that we need to do more to revolutionize the way that we use social media in medicine. If we get creative, I think we can use social media for more than promoting ourselves, and instead, use it to educate patients and to reach those who we would have a harder time reaching otherwise.

Honestly, I’m not sure how one would embark on a task like this, but I think it’s an important discussion to have. If you’d like to brainstorm with me, you can catch me during my breaks between shelf studying and watching episodes of the latest medical reality show.


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Improving Your Medical Practice's Web Presence

Improving Your Medical Practice's Web Presence | Buzz e-sante | Scoop.it

When it comes to online marketing, we hear one question from physicians and practice managers again and again: “How do I improve my web presence?” It’s a great question, as McKinsey reports that SMEs with a strong presence online typically experience growth twice as quickly as those without. But before you can actually increase your web presence, you need to define what “web presence” actually means — a task not quite as simple as it may sound.

While it’s often defined as a practice’s total online real estate — web site, social media accounts, blogs, etc. — a more actionable definition is comprehensive online visibility. Are you featured prominently in search results and local directories? Do you see strong engagement from ads and social media marketing? And perhaps most importantly, are you creating the most frictionless path to your website for the largest possible number of prospective patients?

And that’s why web presence is so tricky. It’s more about accuracy, efficiency, and location than sheer size of effort, and that requires the successful management of a variety of channels simultaneously. But when you present your content to the right audiences at the right times, your practice won’t go unnoticed. 

Get Your Message Seen: Search and Social

According to Google, 77% of patients use search before booking an appointment. When a health-related search is made — “local ear doctor,” for instance — your practice needs to be at the top of the list to gain maximal exposure. The easiest way to improve your search engine visibility is with paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which uses Google AdWords campaigns to target prospective patient groups by search queries, keywords, location, and a number of other variables. 

However, medical practices should also practice search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Usually, this involves populating your website with topical and targeted content (often in the form of a blog), which will also boost your organic search rankings over time and contribute to your reputation as a credible and trusted source for health-related information. 

Social media is also playing an increasingly important role in your healthcare’s web presence and online visibility: according to PwC, 61% of consumers and 90% of 18-24 year-olds trust social media information posted by healthcare providers. Indeed, 74% rely on it for purchasing decisions. Facebook advertising is generally the most cost-effective way to reach those potential patients, as its targeting abilities far surpass those of any other social channel (especially for mobile users). For medical marketers, rolling out a variety of Facebook ads is easy, and its analytics suite makes it simple to continually optimize messaging.

Make sure you also create a Google+ business page and verify your listing with Google. This is a necessary step if you want your medical practice to appear in Google Maps search results.

Ensure Accuracy and Consistency of Information

At the same time, you need to ensure that each of your listings displays accurate and up-to-date information, especially when it comes to names, addresses, and phone numbers. This includes the usual places — on your website, social media accounts, and paid search messaging — but don’t forget to update online and local directories as well, such as Google My Business API, Yelp, Yahoo Local, and Angie’s List. It never hurts to encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews, as long as you’re not actively soliciting them. You can also remove negative Yelp reviews if they violate terms of service or inaccurately depict your services.

This is important, because not only do patients frequently peruse such sites when seeking care — 88% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations — but Google indexes these sites such that more highly-rated practices receive more favorable search rankings. If incorrect information is tainting your practice’s online reputation, you may simply not appear in patient’s searches.

Growing a medical practice’s web presence is an ever-evolving process, and your methods should keep pace with changing online best practices. However, the goal should always be to first identify where your presence would have the biggest impact online, and then test and optimize your content strategy for that audience segment. Web presence will likely mean something slightly different for every practice, but success means capitalizing on those differences to differentiate yourself from the competition.


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