Doctors who think social media is just a lot of idle chit-chat with no relevance to their practice may want to reconsider. The fact is consumers who go online to shop for products and services are growing more social all the time — and doctors who want to reach them should be listening to their conversations.
Researchers are certainly paying attention, having discovered that the torrents of information being posted on Twitter, Facebook and other social-media sites provide valuable insights into the factors that influence those consumers’ buying decisions.
Consider recent data compiled by Telligent, a social-community software company, that shows that:
- Consumers spend one of every five minutes of their time online on social networks and blogs
- 90% of people trust peer recommendations
- 70% trust consumer opinions online
- 63% prefer product or service information from consumer ratings
Such numbers underscore the philosophy at RealSelf, where more than 1.5 million visitors each month explore cosmetic surgery and dental procedures, read opinions from other consumers and post Worth It Ratings on services they’ve received. As RealSelf CEO Tom Seery notes,
RealSelf engages a community of millions that is deeply interested in getting informed about everything from acne scar treatment to liposuction to zoom teeth whitening.
Increasingly, they’re getting that information through social media.
1. More devices = more time online = more opportunities to reach consumers
According to Nielsen, 60% of people learn about brands directly through social media when researching a product via three or more digital means. With sales of smartphones and tablets soaring, that’s only likely to go up.
2. Social media provides a valuable alternative to old-school market research
Web-savvy doctors can learn what consumers are looking for — and avoid expensive market-research analyses — by incorporating surveys, polls and other customer-facing features into their practice websites.