Perhaps you’ve heard the news that a certain social network is going public, a move that promises to raise as much as $16 billion, boost its hoodie-wearing founder’s net worth to $24 billion and value the company at more than $100 billion.
What’s that mean for doctors with brand or personal pages on the world’s largest, most popular social network? In the short term, not much, but if you dig into the Facebook IPO just a bit, you get a sense of what Mark Zuckerberg and Co. have in mind for the future.
Consider, for example, the pre-IPO paperwork Facebook filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) in February. Among its densely worded pages is a letter from Zuckerberg in which he lays out his vision for both people and the business that seek to serve them.
For people, he says:
Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness. As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use.
As for businesses, he writes:
We have found that products that are “social by design” tend to be more engaging than their traditional counterparts, and we look forward to seeing more of the world’s products move in this direction. In addition to building better products, a more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically.
It remains to be seen how Wall St. will respond to Facebook’s financial prospects but with approximately 900 million members (and counting), it’s obvious that people, including your patients and prospective patients, have already given it a thumb’s up.
1. It’s okay to like Facebook, just don’t live on it
Just because people are spending hours on end on Facebook doesn’t mean doctors should, too. Rather than seeing your Facebook page as a destination, think of it as a place to interact with aesthetic consumers, a portal to share your expertise and a pathway that leads visitors to your practice website.
2. It’s a social network so be social!
Facebook rewards interactions between people — the more your social media strategy includes interacting with people, the more likely your content will be seen by more people. Foster those interactions by asking questions, conducting polls, commenting on other people’s posts and encouraging them to spread your content even further by providing sharing buttons and links to relevant information.
3. It’s about building relationships not boosting ROI
Perhaps the biggest challenge of social media is that it can seem like a lot of effort for very little reward, especially if you measure the reward strictly in terms of the number of consults scheduled or surgeries booked. As Tom Seery, CEO of RealSelf.com, notes, social media is not lead-generation; it’s a venue where doctors can provide helpful, relatable information that consumers can use as they make their aesthetic decisions. Unlike Facebook’s IPO, doctors who make the effort will find that it’s an investment that’s all but guaranteed to pay off.