When we discuss social networking here at Turbo, we often bring up Facebook and YouTube, but very rarely have we focused solely on Twitter. In part, this is due to the fact that Twitter is often considered the least valuable of the three.

Twitter has proven to not be a fad though, with over 500 million active users by the start of 2012. Obviously the biggest concern with Twitter is that you’re limited to 140 characters for every “tweet” you send out. That’s great for a celebrities who like to tell you about the lunch they just had, but for a medical practice it can be a little tricky.

Like any social network, or marketing effort, you need to have a well-defined strategy before investing your time and money. Here are some tips for your medical practice to consider when getting set up with and using Twitter.

1) Set Expectations & Goals: Don’t think that Twitter will magically start generating business for you from day 1. Set your expectations for Twitter to be a network that you gradually grow with quality information (tweets). Your goals should be focused on how many tweets you’ll be generating on a weekly basis, as well as how you’d like to promote your Twitter page.

2) Custom Brand Your Page: Twitter, like any other marketing tool, is an extension of your brand. Make sure you custom brand your page with your logo and phone number, at the very least.

3) Set Up Hootsuite: You don’t want to have to login to Twitter every time you want to post a tweet. Instead, use a scheduling software, such as Hootsuite.

4) Set Up Tweet Adder: If you want a little boost in the number of your Followers, consider Tweet Adder. This software allows you to target a competitor’s or partner’s Followers. You Follow these people hoping that they’ll Follow you back. You can even un-Follow after a certain number of days if you’d like. This isn’t essential, but definitely a tool to consider.

5) Set Up a Blog Feed to Your Twitter Page: If your blogging, and you should be, make sure that your posts are automatically updating both your Facebook page and your Twitter page. You can set this up with a feed through Google Feedburner.

6) Be Careful About What You Tweet: A frequent concern of medical practices that I work with is what they should be tweeting. The biggest thing to keep in mind here is to never give medical advice to anyone over social media. It’s ok to tweet about medical tips, studies and news, but do not diagnose or give advice to any specific Follower.

7) Develop a Keyword-Rich #hashtag: A hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) inserted before a keyword in your tweets. It allows your tweets to be better indexed by Twitter when people are searching for keywords related to your practice. Hashtags such as #eyetips for Ophthalmologists, or #tummytuck for plastic surgeons, are examples of how to utilize a hash tag.

8) Seek Out Industry Leaders: It’s always good to “rub elbows” with people of influence. Twitter can be a good way to introduce yourself to people in your industry that you may want to partner with to bring in more patients.

9) Promote Your Twitter Page: The most important tip of all. Just having a Twitter page isn’t enough. You need to make sure you promote your Twitter page on your website, blog, in your office (with signage) and to patients directly. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to get more Fans, Followers and reviews. Make sure you give people an incentive to be a Follower as well. This incentive can be a weekly tip you give out or even a discount off your services.

Seems easy enough, right? Actually, there is one more tip I recommend for any medical practice considering using Twitter. That is, make sure you have the right person, or company, handling your Twitter efforts. Do not simply delegate your receptionist or secretary who have little to no understanding of Twitter or social media.

If you have any questions about utilizing Twitter, then leave Turbo a note here or call us directly at 877-673-7096 x708.