Are you a Facebook fan? How about a Twitter fan? If so, I’ll bet you have plenty of thoughts on the current push to use social media for professional marketing agendas.
I am a fan of supporting businesses and organizations that might not otherwise get much national exposure for a good cause or a great product (like the incredible beers of Four Saints Brewing in North Carolina). But how likely are you, personally, to return to the Facebook page of a business or an orthopedic practice you’ve recently “liked” just to stay current on their social posts?
Not too likely, unless you’re invested in the business in some way. I can assure you I have not returned to the swimsuit store I liked, nor to my friend’s fitness business page (sorry, Rob) because I’m not really invested in what they post or advertise. With Four Saints Brewing, I might actually return to their Facbook page because I’m looking for their KickStarter program announcement. I’m invested in their posts, and I want to be there when their KickStarter program goes live. I’ll be thrilled to do the same for my brother-in-law’s new craft distillery in Maine when they go live. It’s a great use of social media — a public declaration of, “These guys are great, check them out!”
But my dentist? Nah, not going back to that page. In fact, if dentist office posts start appearing on my page, you know what I will do? Delete. Hide. Unsubscribe. I don’t want to be marketed to via social media.
When I like a page, it is a social comment, not an invitation to advertise. I want my friends to know that I like my dentist. Maybe they will see my post and check him out. But I hope that by shamelessly giving a Like to my dentist’s page, I didn’t unwittingly expose myself and my friends to his marketing posts. In fact, I have frequently unfriended people I had thought were friends when it became apparent that what they really wanted was to market to me and my network of friends.
I am not alone. Social media posts abound with complaints about this trend and the distaste it leaves in our collective mouths. Remember telephone solicitors? Unwelcome, unwanted, and leaving us wishing for less. Much less. It is just as distasteful to be marketed to on our personal social sites.
On the other end of the spectrum, if a page is directed toward a group, socially or otherwise bound, that group usually responds. Runners might like a running page — and might even subscribe to regular posts related to running, if they are invested in the posts. Similarly, groups can use pages to post announcements and photos to their group members. I use this for a local wine club now. But again, these are social media used for social purposes, among the members of a group, who are invested in the posts at least to a certain extent.
I think there actually is an opportunity for the use of social media in an orthopedic practice, but it’s not typically where we are being encouraged to move. Orthopedic practices don’t usually offer community resources and input to groups of people – runners, skiers, arthritis sufferers – but instead try to cast a broad net. Unfortunately, the broad nets just aren’t very well received in a social-group oriented media.
Don’t fall for the pressure to use social media to promote your practice just because “everybody’s doing it” or because someone thinks that this is where people go for information. Some people might search out or even stumble on your page for an initial hit, but why would they go to go back to your page? Are you posting to a group that is invested in you? If not, how much are you planning to invest in them?
Let’s at least try to keep it among “friends.” I vote for keeping the social in social media.
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