Preparing your Practice for Social Search

3 Steps to Start Your Social Media Marketing

Although there are obvious outliers to this group, most notably Dr. Mercola, the natural medicine community has traditionally been a little behind the times keeping up with technology. In previous columns we have discussed the best use of e-newsletters, but this month we thought we would dedicate this column to keeping NDs up to snuff on the significant changes going on in the internet world, and how you can benefit from staying ahead of the curve.

Vector image of yellow man with a magnifying glassOver the past few months, there have been salient changes to the strategies of the big players. Those business who have spent a lot of money of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will be likely horrified to learn that Google has changed its search algorithm and now places a lot less emphasis on the geeky word underpinnings of a website, and much more emphasis on the delivery of original, fresh content. This is being referred to as a “Social Search”, “so, if you want to earn higher rankings with Google, you not only need to be creating high-quality content, but also actively encouraging its sharing on the social networks.”

Even by their own admission, Google has only touched 1% of the potential of this, so we see this as a trend likely to run and run, so now is the time to get your practice in a position to be dynamically relevant in the new era. The good news for practitioners is that this strategy should play into their hands if they can organize their systems to support it.

Outside of Google, other players like GroupOn and Yelp are coming up with more and more ways to make it easy for patients to find your practice. So, herewith a list of best strategies to get, and keep, your practice relevant and on the online map.

1. Deliver health information to your patients and wider audience.

This should be music to the ears of NDs, you have so much to share! The information gap between what is healthy and people’s current habits is so wide, just sharing information regularly with your patients will help significantly.

Key Questions

  • What information do you find yourself saying over and over?
  • What niche of healthcare should you position yourself as an expert in?
  • Why should people come to you? (Speak their language, not yours!)
  • Who could help you deliver this content?

Key Tips

  • Deliver the content via various media (Blog, Facebook Business Page, e-newsletter, etc)
  • Mix original content (written by you) with other high quality content from reliable sources (NDNR.com, Mercola.com, NaturalNews.com, etc)
  • Get a team to help (either in house or outsource)

2. Make it easy for prospective patients to see social proof of your work

For over 100 years, practitioners of holistic medicine have relied on word of mouth and testimonials for practice growth. Don’t stop now! More and more, people want social proof and the internet is making it easier and easier to display it! Testimonials will be there forever!

Key Tips

  • Set up your businesses on Yelp.com, Google Places (maps.google.com), Facebook Business Page, Healthgrades.com, etc
  • Provide in-practice incentives for patients to give testimonials on those sites
  • Make it easy for them to write killer testimonials by providing structure (when I came to Dr.____, I had _____ and now I _____)

3. Stay on the cutting edge of innovation with GroupOn Now!

GroupOn has been around for just a few years, but it is growing exponentially. The original business model focused on giving users a great deal on local services if enough of them bought to make the deal ‘live’. It has proved an extremely effective way of introducing new customers to businesses. Not only has this group buying system has been replicated by hundreds of copy cats very quickly, but also the few health practices that I have seen use it have not benefitted that much from ‘doing a Groupon’, because either they ended up wasting time performing services at or below cost, or their rebooking system was not effective enough to secure repeat business. “GroupOn Now”, released in May 2011, is GroupOn’s next attempt to stay ahead of the curve and it offers a few features that should be much better suited to naturopathic clinics. It focuses on deals that are available ‘NOW’ and gives the business a lot more control over when and how the deal is offered. They offer deals in 4 categories that could be interesting to integrative clinics. What do you currently offer to support your core business?

  • Get Pampered (Massage, facial, acupuncture, reiki, etc?)
  • Exercise (Yoga, Pilates, personal training, etc)
  • Take Care of Myself (All of the above plus consultations, etc)
  • Take a Class (Health education, product ingredients, etc)

From our experience of running health clinics, there are a number of ways this could be beneficial.

  1. Attracting new customers to the clinic with familiar services (and those willing to take the first step towards their health would be perfect candidates for becoming ongoing patients!)
  2. Filling in slow times of the week (Inventory or occupancy management)
  3. Using your overhead more effectively (Are you using your office space in the evenings and weekends?)

All of these changes could be the difference between a marginally successful practice and a local or international brand empowering people to health at every level. The aperture for successful practice positioning is open right now, and every practitioner now has the tools to grab hold of their community and take their rightful place in true primary care.

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Holistic Practice Development helps practitioners to grow healthy, sustainable practices, regardless of demographic or economic environment. Dr. Andrew Colyer and James Maskell have a combined 30 years of experience in the health care industry, and would love to help you grow your practice. For your free practice strategy session, please visit

Holistic Practice Development

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