Sunday, September 26, 2010

Et Tu? YouTube? Innovative Use of Visual Media to Market Physician Practices

Within the changing communication mix of word and visual, the visual will dominate. The challenge is to ascertain the optimum mix of word and visual in each field of endeavor.

John Naisbitt, Mind Set!, 2006

This week I called Neil Baum, MD, a New Orleans urologist. I asked,”What’s new in the field of physician marketing."

For years, Neil wrote a column in the AMA News on the topic, and his book Marketing Your Clinical Practice is now in its third edition.

Without hesitating, Neil replied, “I went on YouTube, and I’m getting three new patients a day.”

This should not surprise. The visual social media is the craze these days - Facebook, Google videos, YouTube, even Twitter.

Twitter prides itself on restricting messages to 140 characters, but it is adding visual content nevertheless.

A picture is worth a thousand words, television beats books, and even we bloggers know blogs work better with images and links to personal videos. With any luck at all, the right mix of words and pictures can go viral, as with Facebook, which now draws 500 million viewers.

Lest doctors get too giddy about prospects of broadcasting their practices to a wider audience, remember most medical practices, like politics, are local, and most doctors see only one patient at a time.

Remember too. Be discreet. Don't cross the lines of privacy or propriety. Don't, for example, show details of rectal surgery. That is verboten.

Doctors deploying YouTube or any other social media must understand these new communication tools are like any other complex skill – it takes knowledge, experience, and enlightenment to master them. They must also understand the social media is a trend in which people use technologies to get the things done using each other rather than traditional sources. It is about people connecting with each other and depending on one another than the establishment.

There are dangers to everybody watching everybody else, whether on, or elsewhere. Too many little brothers can become Big Brother, as in “Big Brother is watching you.” Digital surveillance and digital facial recognition may have digital downsides, as government and hackers intrude further into our lives.

It is wise, therefore, for physicians to enlist the services of an IT marketing consultant before plunging into the social media abyss where things can go amiss.