Facebook 101 at the Social Marketing Idea Swap

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This afternoon’s options for roundtable discussions were plentiful, but one in particular caught my eye right away: the social marketing idea swap, hosted by Kim Longeteig and Ken Davis Jr, JD. Earlier, during Donna Platt’s session, an audience member asked whether Great Basin Imaging engages in social marketing, and Platt’s response was a swift and decisive “no”—they were concerned about the potential exposure to bad press and decided to give the whole concept a wide berth. So how can social media be appropriately and optimally harnessed to the benefit of radiology businesses?

A member of the obviously eager audience posed a question right off the bat: “What are others doing to create a successful Facebook presence, and how do they gather their followers?” Longeteig suggested observing the practices of social-media-savvy groups like Inland Imaging, Charlotte Radiology, and Scottsdale Medical Imaging to get ideas. Another audience member mentioned the necessity of having a personal Facebook account in order to start a business account. “Does that mean you’re depending on one person to handle Facebook for the whole company?” she asked. “Essentially, yes,” said Longeteig. Business pages can have multiple administrators, but Longeteig warns against overdoing it—because all admins have equal control over the page, admins should only be people you trust.

“One of the problems Facebook is facing is anonymous or pseudonymous postings,” Davis explained. “If something goes wrong with that account, they want to be able to trace it back to exactly who was doing it. That’s why they want the business account to link back to an individual.”

As the questions continued, it became clear that there was a lot of confusion about how exactly Facebook works—what it means when someone “likes” something on the site, are statistics available on how many hits pages are getting, how can users who spam other peoples’ profiles be avoided. As someone who utilizes Facebook to connect with our ImagingBiz audience— facebook.com/imagingbiz, hint hint—I can personally attest that it takes practice to understand. Longeteig’s advice, to mimic the practices of forward-thinking groups, is a great way both to get your feet wet and to better understand the medium’s potential. “You have to work within your means,” Longeteig said. “As far as keeping it interesting, inspirational quotes and content pulled from other sources can be a big help. Follow other people, see what they’re doing, and keep a log of what you like and want to try down the road.”

An audience member asked if there’s any information about whether referring physicians or medical groups are using Facebook. Longeteig noted that in Inland Imaging’s experience, physicians are both present on Facebook and highly responsive to Facebook marketing—Inland is even helping its referrers set up their own business pages on the site. Davis added that it’s a unique opportunity for patient marketing as well. “If you have a woman who spends time on Facebook because it’s become the social destination, and she’s just heard her friend has breast cancer, it’s easy to search for it and find all these imaging center pages,” he observed.

Oh, and by the way—if you share Platt’s concern about opening your business up to bad press, Longeteig said she has yet to hear of an imaging center receiving negative feedback on its Facebook page. “If someone does complain, it’s an opportunity for you to make it right,” she noted. “We all know that from basic customer service. But if it becomes abusive or inappropriate, you always have the right to delete the comment and/or block the user.”

All in all, the social marketing idea swap was more of a Facebook introductory session—a little disappointing, maybe, but also to be expected. After all, last year’s RBMA fall conference included exactly zero sessions on Facebook, and this year there are several! This is obviously a phenomenon whose time has come, and I look forward to checking in on this topic next year when utilization of the medium has matured a little further.