Targeted Marketing Therapy

The prescription to help oncologists understand and use marketing, social media and more.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

3 Reasons Social Media is a Must for Oncology Professionals (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome to part three of my series on reasons you need to become involved in social media.

Hopefully you’ve had time to read the first and second posts to learn how both patients and clinicians alike turn to social media for a variety of reasons.  It’s truly transforming the way information is shared across our cancer care delivery system.

Yet for someone who’s not currently involved in social media, diving into and filtering the sea of information can seem daunting.  So here’s the final reason you’ll find value for the time you invest.

3.    It’s less of a time commitment than you think it is.

Some equate participation in social media with wasted hours sifting through meaningless commentary on germane topics.  Yet while it’s true that there is a lot of incessant banter that’s not necessarily relevant if you read it all, you don’t actually have to spend a ton of time using social media to find value in it.  You don’t even have to participate in discussion all the time – although participating does build your social network and make good information easier to access.  When time is short you can just follow the conversation and learn.  Just like interacting with patients, you don’t always necessarily talk to learn more about a problem, but you do always have to listen.

Make it easy for yourself to follow the social conversation – use simple tools to filter information and fit social into bite-sized time slots in your day.

·    A smartphone – You need it for more reasons that social media, given all the healthcare-related apps and information you can access.  Yet for social it’s a must, since it lets you take what used to be downtime and use it for social -- long elevator rides or delayed meetings, for example.

·    Google Reader – Lets you efficiently skim news for important topics that may have social media buzzing; new research, legislation, etc.

·    Search/Filter tools – Many social sites let you self-streamline what you see. For example, on Twitter you can organize people you follow into lists based on whatever criteria or topic you’d like; on LinkedIn, you can join groups that are topic-specific.

At the end of the day, you ask, what does social media mean for you, what are the benefits?  Even if you put in the time, what makes social worth it?

The beautiful answer is you get to craft that value yourself.

It benefits your knowledge since it puts a wealth of personal insights, experience, and perspective – from oncology professionals just like you – within easy reach.  Need to know if a new drug is as effective as your drug rep says, or if an off-label use is safe?  Post a question on Sermo and hear from oncologists who’ve used it.

It benefits your practice, since it provides more opportunity than ever to brand yourself as an expert to both colleagues and patients alike. 

Want to let potential patients know you’re up-to-date on the latest treatment standards?  Start a Twitter account and offer some general comments on newly approved treatments.  They’re going to read about it somewhere and ask you anyway.

Social media can also do other things, like uncover new patients for your practice.  We can discuss that and other marketing-related stuff in later posts. 

For now, if you’re not using social media yet, let’s get started with the basics – start following and listening to all the conversation taking place about issues critical to cancer care and healthcare delivery.

Join Sermo, start a Twitter account.  Take a first step.