Social networking has been an Internet phenomenon since its beginning, but in the past few years, it has become extremely popular with the 18-to-35 generation in particular. Marketers have begun to see the advantages in promoting on these social networking sites, and you may find some of them useful in marketing your practice.
The sites allow you to create a profile and join a group of like-minded people for online social interaction. Most allow you to invite friends.
LinkedIn is a business networking service. Here you can create a network of business people in your area, receive recommendations about other professionals, and ask people to recommend you. You can search for a CPA or attorney in your city, for example. Personal accounts are free, while professional accounts start at $19.95 a month. It’s interesting to see how just a few connections can put you in touch with hundreds of people. If you are looking for professionals as patients, this is a good option.
Craigslist is an Internet phenomenon, with its spare appearance, low cost ads, and low-tech appearance. This online classified ad service lists ads for medium to large cities, and, according to PCWorld, “it has almost single handedly demolished the offline classified advertising business.” Like many of these online sites, it has lots of junk on it, but professionals like chiropractors are advertising here more and more.
YouTube – With the increase in the number of Internet users with high-speed connections, the online video has taken off. You can find just about any kind of video on this site. A few chiropractors have used videos to market their practices (search “chiropractor”), but it would seem to make more sense to put a video on your practice website.
MySpace – According to Internet site ratings, MySpace is currently the sixth most popular website. Users submit photos, blogs, videos, music, and, of course, lists of friends. A recent search for “chiropractor” showed over 17,000 sites on MySpace. Some chiropractors have used their sites as practice web pages; others blog and answer health questions. To stand out, use keywords for your city and your specialty.
FaceBook – Facebook is like MySpace, but it focuses more on groups in specific geographic areas. If you have an email account with one of the major providers (gmail, yahoo, hotmail, AOL, etc.), you can sign in and see who else is online in your area. This site is not frequented as often as MySpace, but you may find another chiropractor to talk to, and you might find some potential patients here too.
Yelp posts reviews of all kinds of products and services, including chiropractors and includes a Google-generated map for the area. If you are in a medium to large city, you can see reviews by patients on this site. It’s also a good place to see what people are saying about other chiropractors in town. When your practice gets started and your patients start saying good things about you, encourage them to post their opinions on Yelp.
Ning allows people to create their own social networking groups. Some of these “groups’ are just ads. A search for “chiropractor” found one chiropractor who had set up a group and was waiting for others to join her.
When considering which of these sites to join, be aware that some allow material and professions that you or your patients and friends might find objectionable (Ning is one example of this.) Choose carefully; find a site that seems to fit with your interests and those of your patients and spend time building up a social network there.