It’s no surprise to anyone reading this that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have entirely re-shaped our means of communication. According to The Nielsen Company, a research and statistic firm focused on media, social networking sites are growing at 82% per year with no chance of slowing down.

Businesses have taken the plunge and social media has become a cornerstone of business marketing. As consumers rely on search and social media to find services and products for family and daily living, this begs the question why some of the largest industries are lagging behind. One group of historically bad marketers is medical practices, and their presence on the web is being dominated by directory and review websites.

So, docs, here are five reasons to change that:

1. Quick and Easy Referrals

For today’s society, having a presence only in the phone book is almost archaic. People are looking to see if you have a URL, whether it is connected to an independent website or a simple blog, Wikipedia page, or Twitter account. Customers nowadays want to see if your business is represented by something other than a phone number, and you should want your consumers to be able to search your name and FIND IT. Not to mention, the less control you have over what is posted on the Internet about you, the easier it is for competition to make their personal slander be the first hit on major search engines. Be the one to post about your own business, you deserve that right.

2. It Grows Your Patient Base

Although some medical practices pride themselves on being neighborhood doctors and hometown nurses, every practice can benefit from plunging their name into the medical database written for each city. For instance, it can prevent patients from searching for a chiropractic specialist, finding a name on the Internet of the chiropractors in the next town over, and escaping without the attention of your practice right down the street. Publicity in this sense could be overwhelmingly beneficial to your medical practice. Put your business on the local radar.

3. As a Patient Resource

Often patients have general questions about pricing, hours, and skills possessed by you and your team of highly educated doctors. Why have patients barraging your phone lines with questions that can be easily answered with online contact information, a synopsis of your practice, and answers about business hours, holiday hours, etc? By having a web page that outlines these parts of any business, it eliminates the more trivial facets of running a business and provides the practice with more time to spend keeping the home office running smoothly.

4. Adds a Personal Touch

The threshold of information discussed above can go both ways. Doctors and employees of the practice are now able to reach their patients more quickly and easily as well. Doctors are able to send out brochures and newsletters to those searching for information on the web. It can entirely eliminate the paper trail and allow those controlling the social media website to attach hyperlinks and online media not permitted in printed brochures. It also brings about the desired presence and “face” for you doctors on the Internet that customers are constantly searching for when deciding who is more qualified to remove the mole from their back.

5. Strengthens Patient Relations

Get personally involved with your version of social media. When searching for various medical practices online, patients want to believe that they are researching for who is the most knowledgeable about their case. If you are a cardiologist and you are personally writing blogs about new studies of foods that can stabilize heart rates, it seems to increase your credibility and understanding of the field. It also continues to establish a personality for your company without the patient ever stepping through the front door. This is the one area, however, where relevance is essential. The moment a cardiologist begins blogging about the sudden increase in hot weather, credibility and customers will surely plummet.

Most medical practices fear that having a presence on the Internet may de-personalize a business that thrives off of privacy and intimate nature. This is naturally a concern with any group making the leap from paper to screen, and it should be taken seriously with an understanding that there is still an essence of control for any creators of social media. First of all, there should be someone either within the walls of the practice or hired elsewhere that is consistently managing the account assuring the practice that privacy as well as relevance is being maintained.

Medical practices all over would benefit from promoting their cause on a website of their own or a publicly accessed social media tool. It gives them control over what is posted, and it puts them in the eye of the public. At the core of every business, their main concern is broadening their consumer base and planting positive images of their company into those interested. In this regard, there is nothing different about medical practices. However, it is important to understand that the phrase, “any publicity is good publicity,” doesn’t apply to the medical world. Positive publicity is key.

To see what J House Media might have to offer your medical practice, click here.