Leadership in Practice podcast, episode 14
I was thrilled to be invited to speak on Gary Hughes’ popular podcast Leadership in Practice‘ – all about leadership and management in General Practice.
Gary asked me to talk about digital marketing and social media in general practice. I addressed some of the practical challenges of getting started and introduced listeners to the “RACE” model for successful digital marketing planning.
Below is a full transcript of the episode, and a few helpful links to resources that I mentioned during it.
To listen to the podcast, you can hear it through your podcast app, or find a link to it here: privatepracticesurgery.co.uk/in-the-community
'Leadership in Practice' podcast transcript
Hello, and thank you for that introduction Gary, it’s great to be here on the podcast.
There are, of course, many benefits to a practice being on social media, and using digital marketing techniques in general.
Maybe you want to grow your list, promote an extended or enhanced service, highlight a health campaign that helps reduce your workload or reach a particular demographic… there are so many possibilities.
But all those questions Gary raised… about which social networks you should use… will it just be a platform for negative comments… how much time will I have to spend on it – or how much time will I lose to it… are all perfectly understandable and of course make you think twice about getting involved.
But most of these questions are quite tactical, or practical elements of social media… and based on my own experience I’d say that these things are never usually as bad as you think they might be.
Unless there really is an issue at your practice (in which case your energy should be spent on fixing that)… Negative comments will be few and far between. My own social media journey has taught me that it’s difficult to put yourself “out there”, that there can be a fear to get over, but I can assure you, most of your concerns are only in your head. I’ve not yet experienced any negativity and have only seen the benefits of actively contributing to social networks.
You can also set and manage expectations around when you’ll be online and when you can reply to messages. Whether this is in your bio or a pinned post, you can let people know how you’ll be managing your profile. This will then help you set time aside in your calendar or your diary and ensure it doesn’t become a time suck or a burden.
In a similar way, you can let people know what you will and won’t do on social media. You can direct people to the phone or online booking system for appointments, or signpost people to the official complaints process so you can manage them appropriately.
It might take a little bit of time at the start to “train” your followers, but these are all simple, effective examples of how you can make it work for you.
There are some great resources that I’ll mention at the end of the podcast to help you with lots of these specific questions… but if there’s one thing I would say… it’s that it all comes down to the planning.
With a good plan behind you, where you know the who, what, where, why, when and how of your social media and digital marketing… you’ll have a lot more confidence to use it… and I’d like to share something with you today to help you do that.
And that’s where the RACE model comes in.
RACE was designed to help organisations develop a digital marketing communications plan that helps you reach and engage your online audience, and prompt them into taking an action.
It’s an acronym, as you may have guessed, which stands for:
- Convert and
Ok so first up, is Reach…
This is asking you to think about building awareness and visibility of your brand, your messages, or your services… (and you do have a brand, by the way, even if you don’t think of it as much more than your reputation right now).
So this step is about communicating with your audience. To maximise your reach, there are a few practical things you should consider, namely how you will communicate with your audience, and when.
- It’s a good idea have a visual timeline, calendar or Gantt chart to help you plan and track your schedule. If you’re just using social media, there are scheduling tools out there that I’ll link to at the end… but previously I’ve used a Gantt chart project plan template from Excel or Google Sheets, and just replaced the tasks with a list of my comms channels, such as email, social media, digital screens in your reception… and you can also include your offline marketing like… leaflets at the front desk, for example.
- The next thing to think about is how many times you’ll repeat your message. In marketing and PR we talk about a metric called “Opportunity to See” or “Opportunity to Hear” – which is about how many times your target audience will come across your marketing message. Try and aim for at least 4 opportunities… so perhaps you’ll email, post on social, write on your website and display on your screens, for example.
- As I’ve sort of just touched on, using multiple ways of communicating your message is ideal. Research has shown that following a “multi channel” approach is more effective at getting a message across than just using 1… but be careful to avoid overwhelm or bombarding your audience. Too much would be annoying and lead to less engagement, unsubscribes and unfollows.
- If you’re running a longer term campaign, it’s important to not repeat it over and over again, with the same words and the same images. Your audience will soon get bored of seeing it and become “blind” to them, giving them no value. So try to mix things up a bit to keep them fresh.
If you can answer those questions and address those points, you’ll have made a great start to your digital marketing planning.
The next part of RACE is ACT…
Although it’s a little misleading… this next step is actually Interact, but I think they decided that RICE didn’t sound quite as… “dynamic” as RACE.
This part of the framework is about encouraging your audience to interact with you… and your content or messaging. So here we’re talking about likes, comments and shares.
So think about the types of content that you can use to encourage that interaction.
Maybe it’s an infographic… or a quick health quiz that helps pique people’s interest…
…Maybe it’s pulling on the heartstrings and it’s about encouraging your parent to quit smoking… or take that health assessment…
Or maybe it’s in a different language to attract a particular community in your location.
The opportunities are endless, and it all starts with knowing your audience… and then testing and experimenting with different content types and messaging… and then tracking your results.
There are lots of different ways you can track results. If you use an email CRM you’ll be able to track the number of opens and clicks, and many of the social media platforms have analytics or insights for your pages so this is relatively easy to keep track of.
But bear in mind that – unfortunately – it’s unlikely that you’ll have instant, overnight success… so don’t be disheartened. It takes time to find what really resonates with your audience… but my overall advice would be to have a variety of different content types to appeal to a wider range of people.
Ok, C is for Convert
In many cases you’ll probably want your audience to do something. In marketing, we call this the “Call to Action”. Whether it’s a simple like, share or comment, or a bigger ask like booking an appointment for a vaccination… or even NOT coming to see you and seeing a pharmacist instead, for example, you have to be really clear about what it is you’re asking someone to do.
On an email or a webpage, for example, that means trying to remove as many distractions as you can and only asking for 1 – maybe 2 – things from the reader.
You may have noticed that a lot of businesses are using “landing pages” instead of their normal webpage layout for key pages like newsletter sign ups or sales pages. Menus are gone, footer links are removed, the only thing you can really do is fill in that form or buy the product. Follow their lead and have simple landing pages with a clear action when you’re driving traffic to your site.
And you can apply the same principles to your social media posts and emails… ask for what you want… one thing at a time… and you’ll see it start to happen more often.
Don’t be too heavy handed though, and it’s advisable to not make every single post, email or whatever something that demands an action, as your audience will soon tire and think of you as high maintenance! Mix it up with informational type posts and you’ll have more interesting communications.
Last up is E for Engage
This step is all about encouraging customer advocacy… or making your patients your biggest fans.
And this is done offline as much as it is online. It’s developing a long-term relationship with your patients and community, giving them a great ‘experience’ – for want of a better phrase – through your customer service… a fast and efficient appointment booking system… friendly staff… great patient care, helping the community, sharing good information and content… all those types of things that I’m sure you’re already doing or aspiring to improve.
If they have a great experience with you then they’ll soon be advocating and promoting you as the best practice in the area.
And you can reinforce this through your communications, too. Perhaps you follow up with a text message that includes a link to leave a review…, or – if it’s a campaign to see patients from a particular demographic, for example – encourage them to “refer a friend” somehow.
And that’s it… this is how you can use digital marketing to help meet your practice’s objectives using the RACE model. Make a plan that follows this framework and you can have confidence in your approach – which as I said earlier, is often half the battle.
Any marketing experts out there might have noticed that these steps mirror what we call the “customer journey”… as by following this process you can take someone from not knowing you and first finding out about you…, to learning more about you through your content… to taking an action… and finally becoming an advocate.
These customer journey models have worked for all types of businesses and organisations, of all shapes and sizes – so I’m confident it will work for you, too.
For a full transcript of this episode, links to more information about the RACE model & how to use it, a list of the tools and resources I’ve mentioned throughout, as well as some expert insight from other social media experts in general practice… go to privatepracticesurgery.co.uk/lip
Thanks so much for having me… goodbye!
More about the RACE model
- Introducing The RACE Framework: a practical framework to improve your digital marketing [Smart Insights]
- Free digital marketing plan template [Smart Insights]
- How to organize a campaign plan using the RACE framework [Smart Insights]
- Using The RACE Framework for Practical Planning [Oxford College of Marketing]
- Introducing RACE: A Practical Framework to Improve Your Digital Marketing [Cleverism]
Social media scheduling tools
Has a free plan that includes 3 social media profiles, 30 scheduled messages with 1 user.
Has a free plan that includes 3 social media profiles, 10 scheduled messages with 1 user.
A sophisticated system but at an expense: Standard plan is $99 per user per month/ Has a free 30-day trial.
A newer option and a bit cheaper at $19 per month, which allows 3 social accounts, unlimited scheduled posts, 10 recurring time slots per week and 4 content categories.
Social media analytics
Here’s how to access the analytics pages of social media accounts.
- analytics.twitter.com [you must be logged in to the account to access it]
- LinkedIn company page: Click on the “Me” button and under “Manage” click on the company page for your practice
- If you have an Instagram business page then you can easily access your analytics through the Insights tab in the Instagram app.
Social media in General Practice
- Social Media Highway Code: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/social-media
- Social Media for General Practices: https://egplearning.co.uk/social-media-for-general-practices/
- Despite it being several years old now, this page is still very relevant and will answer many of your more practical questions: https://www.firstpracticemanagement.co.uk/blog/posts/an-introduction-to-social-media-for-gp-practices