How Your Social Media Is Holding You Back – Practice Perfect Podcast Episode #10
"When you are engaging in social media, when you're taking selfies, putting out videos, and relying on that for business, the control is 100% out of your hands. If Facebook goes under or the government decides to shut them down or break them up, whatever, anything can happen, your business can tank."
Practice Perfect: Actionable business information to take your medical practice to the next level. Now your host, Nick Dumitru.
Nick Dumitru: [00:33] Welcome to another episode of Practice Perfect, the podcast for business owners running cosmetic surgery practices or medi-spas. Today, I want to talk to you about social media.
Now, I've got a slightly contradictory opinion about social media. I'm going to challenge you a little bit in how you're thinking and hopefully by the end of this talk, you're going to have a better understanding of how to use social media for your practice so that it doesn't damage you, it doesn't hurt you, it doesn't end up using your time in a unproductive manner. I want to start by talking about a recent talk that I gave in Paris at the IMCAS Conference earlier this year.
For those of you that don't know IMCAS , it's a fairly large conference. It was about 11,000 attendees the last time I went there. I spoke on stage and as I was waiting for my turn, one of these physicians went up to talk about her social media.
Nick Dumitru: [01:30] She's a fairly well known doctor, I guess, online. She has a practice in California. She was discussing social media and how it was affecting her practice, how she was so proud of the fact that she's not paying for marketing, she's not spending money on ads, she's got very minimal span and so competitive in California. She talked about how she was using social media. Now, she put up some numbers there in the numbers I was not very impressed with in terms of gross volume. And in my opinion, what she was doing was providing a very dangerous line of information for anyone going into business. Now, I say it's dangerous because not all practices are thriving. And when a practice isn't thriving or has a lot of competition, the worst thing that you can do for your practice is spend time, effort, energy, and money doing something that doesn't add to the bottom line.
Nick Dumitru: [02:28] Let's start talking about what's wrong with social media first and foremost. Now, there is a time to go all in on social media, and I'm not saying that social media doesn't work, but it has to be used the right way and at the right time to make a difference in your practice, otherwise you really are just doing it for your own sake, for your own vanity. So let's talk about what's wrong with it. Many people that are very much advocates of social media these days, for example, Instagram is the latest and greatest favorite of everyone that's touting social media these days. Those people are not taking into account the history of what happened with Facebook. Facebook is by far the largest platform. It's still one of the best producing platforms in terms of ads and it is the one that's pretty much been around the longest that is still in existence today.
Nick Dumitru: [03:19] So when we're examining social media, when we're looking at Instagram, we want to first take a look at the history of Facebook and what happened there. Now, Facebook used to be great. A lot of people spend a lot of time, energy, money, building up these pages, business pages on Facebook, and getting organic reach. Organic reach was the big thing. Social media was going to be the next wave. It was going to put advertising out of business, because now all you had to do is put up a few selfies, go on social media, and rely on your fan base to really drive your business. Well, the thing that people don't understand is that Facebook at the end of the day is a business. They're not there for your sake. What happened originally with social media, and rightly so, I'm not blaming Facebook for this, this is absolutely correct on their part.
Nick Dumitru: [04:06] They took a look at it and they saw that the platform was driving business from their pages, from their fan page. What they did is they decided that they would reduce the organic reach on those pages and now it became a pay to play platform. So all those people that spend all that time, energy, effort, and money building up all of these engagement, and pages, and likes. You remember who likes used to actually matter? I do. They don't so much anymore because it's not about that, it's about engaging your customer on the social media platform. Well, Instagram, and whatever comes next, whenever you're listening to this, whatever the next big social media platform is out there, it's going to be monetized. Facebook is already talking about starting to monetize Instagram. They're already exploring avenues. They're already looking at a messenger, and how to engage people there, and how to create those communities, and it too will become a pay to play platform. What do you think will happen when that is put into place? Nick Dumitru: 05:07 I'll tell you exactly what's going to happen. Your organic reach is going to diminish. All that time, energy and effort you've spent building up your various Instagram followers and all of that will just go by the wayside, and you will have to pay to play. Now, if that weren't bad enough, if Facebook deciding to kill organic reach wasn't bad enough, there's another thing that you have to start thinking about in terms of business development, practice development, and that is do you want your business to be in your hands or do you want your business to be in the hands of third parties like Facebook and your customers? If you said anything other than in my hands, then you need to reexamine your business. The reason for that is that when you are engaging in social media, when you're taking selfies, putting out videos, and relying on that for business, the control is 100% out of your hands.
Nick Dumitru: [06:00] If Facebook goes under or the government decides to shut them down or break them up, whatever, anything can happen, your business can tank. If your customers don't engage or they don't feel like coming in and you're just relying on this organic reach and organic posting, again, they have all the control. You as a business owner have no control. I didn't want to be controversial in Paris when that doctor was talking, but again, like I said, her numbers were not that impressive in terms of gross volume. And that's okay. If you just want a lifestyle business, then that's perfectly fine. You can have a lifestyle business and be perfectly happy with social media. But if you want to build a robust business as a business owner and you have to start thinking yourself of yourself as a business owner, as a business owner, you need to have control of your incoming prospects, your leads, your lead flow, your engagement, and people coming to you.
Nick Dumitru: [06:53] Organic reach isn't going to do that for you. It doesn't matter how many selfies you take. What I would have asked that physician is if I needed another 400, 500, 1000 leads this month because your business is struggling, or you've added this new piece of equipment, we need to get it out there. How many more selfies would you need to take to generate those? The answer is that she wouldn't know, because she has zero control of for business. All she's doing is relying on the charity of her customers and on the charity of Instagram to give her her patients. We're going to talk about the benefits of social media and a little bit, but I want you to first understand what's wrong with it. And that mindset, the mindset is a disease. It can really hold you back.
Nick Dumitru: [07:37] While it will produce some results, you're leaving a lot of money on the table because you are trying to be too stingy and too cheap to actually invest in your practice and have control of it as a business owner. That's the problem with this organic reach. That's where it can harm your business. That mindset is that disease and it can be very dangerous because here's the reality, social media isn't free. Okay? Organic social media isn't free. Even if you don't want to pay for ads. Even if you think that the best way to go about it is not to give Facebook, and Instagram, and all these other platforms any kind of money because you're very proud of holding it for yourself. She was very righteous, by the way, on stage, and very proud of the fact that she had zero control of her practice.
Nick Dumitru: [08:23] Now if you've got that mindset and you're doing this organically, the reality is that you're spending a lot of your own time, and your time is worth money. And as a physician, your most valuable time as a doctor is in performing money-making activities. That's consultations and producing procedures, doing procedures. All right? Any other activity that you're doing isn't a money generating activity in your practice. And if you don't value yourself enough to put yourself into a money-making activity and you think that doing a selfie, or a little video, or putting your children out on social media because some expert told you to do so, right, for the sake of trying to get a patient? If you think that that's a good use of your time, then by all means go ahead. I personally don't think that that's a great use of your time. I don't think that you're going to make more money by just doing selfies all the time. You're going to make money by having control of your practice, plain and simple.
Nick Dumitru: [09:24] Now, like I said, it really depends on the type of business that you want. If you need to feed your ego, if you're that type of person and you get off on the pseudo celebrity aspect of it, then by all means spend the time on social media. Go ahead. Like, if that's feeding your soul, if that's what your soul needs to feel good, then do it, but understand why you're doing it, right? Don't fool yourself into thinking that this is how I'm growing my practice. That's not what it's about. Now, if you're looking to grow a robust practice under your own control, then you need to start advertising and you need to take advantage of the advertising available on these social media platforms to get the people engaging to you. And there is a way to do it. I'm not going to get into that now. There's a way to do it right to make sure that you're not losing your shirt.
Nick Dumitru: [10:08] But what I want you to take from this is that you have to understand where the control is, right? As a business owner, if you don't have control of your lead flow of your marketing, of your advertising, then you're vulnerable to everything from market conditions, to Congress shutting down social media platforms or breaking them up, and right through to just plain old greed, good old-fashioned where the social media platforms just want to take away the organic reach because they need to make money as well. They have employees, they have servers. It's not a charity, they're a for profit business, and they can absolutely choose to do that because it's their platform and they have the control.
Nick Dumitru: [10:48] You need to decide what you want, what kind of practice that you want, and how slowly you want to grow. Because the other thing with social media organic reach is that it's not scalable, whereas advertising absolutely is. You can double, triple, quadruple your advertising spend and your lead flow and really take over a market, and all it costs you as money. On the subject of money, I want you to start looking at money a little bit differently, because there's a difference between a cost and an investment in your business. Spending money on advertising doesn't have to be a cost. It can be if it's done wrong, right? If you've got people that are talking about branding, and reach, and exposure, and top of mind awareness, yeah, absolutely that's going to be a waste of money for you. But if you're talking about direct response style advertising where people take action based on what you put in front of them and you can measure it, then it doesn't become an expense.
Nick Dumitru: [11:44] It's an investment. Because the reality is that money is fluid, right? There's always more of it. There's never a shortage of cash. So when the money goes out into advertising, it comes back as surgeries, or injections, or laser treatments, whatever it is that you're doing. When it comes back to your practice, it's a revolving door. So if you put out a thousand, you do the treatment, right, and then maybe you made $500 profit, right? We got a thousand plus the $500 profit, it came back. It's a revolving door and it doesn't matter if it's ten thousand, or a hundred thousand a month, or a million a month. Depending on the size of your practice, it's the same thing. That's how you have to look at it. It's an investment that goes out there and then comes back with business for your practice. Whereas with organic reach, you may have spent the time, the energy, the effort, all that time doing these videos, and selfies, and posts, and they may bring nothing back because you've got very little control over that.
Nick Dumitru: [12:41] Again, it's in the hands of a third party and you're relying on the charity of your customers to come in, because you're relying on getting their attention and you basically become a dancing clown. You have to start entertaining them. I personally have more respect for you than that and I want you to understand that you don't have to do that. Now, if you choose to do that again, by all means, I'm not judging you. Absolutely. Go ahead. But understand that you're doing it for reasons other than having control of your practice.
Nick Dumitru: [13:10] All right. Having said that, I don't want you to be completely scared about social media advertising. There is a reason to do it, and I'm going to get into that right now. Now, the main reason that you want to do some social media activity, as long as it's not your primary lead acquisition source, is because there is data out there that shows that it can increase your conversion rate in office.
Nick Dumitru: [13:34] So when somebody becomes a lead and then you also have a lot of social media activity out there, the right kind of social media activity, then they start to know, like, and trust you. They start to engage with you a little bit. They start to gain an affinity for you, so that when they come in, they're much more disposed to converting with you. Right? So they come in, you don't have to explain as much to them all the time, you don't have to tell them so much about yourself, but this is not activity that needs to be done every week. Right? Especially not by you. You can definitely put your staff in charge of that. You can do the odd video yourself, you can do some videos maybe once a week or once a month where it goes out there and it stays out there. Like, it doesn't have to go away, and you can use your paid ads to start retargeting those people that are engaging with your practice and that have maybe a filled out a consultation request or made a phone call, and then start to engage them in this conversion-building effort.
Nick Dumitru: [14:34] So, there is some advantage to social media. Having said all that, there is an advantage but it has to be done for the right reasons, and now this will help you understand what kind of content to craft as well. Because if the goal of your social media is no longer to try to entertain and garner attention, you start to think about who the audience is, the value of them having certain types of information, and then using that to help them make a decision to go with you. It really focuses the content, right?
Nick Dumitru: [15:05] So now that your content team isn't trying to jump on every single trend that's out there, it really helps your staff understand what the goal of the marketing is, what the goal of the social media posts are. It's to create affinity. It's to create liking. It's to create knowing. It's to create authority to some degree. And it doesn't have to be you doing it all the time, 100% of the time. You can recycle videos, you can get them to edit clips, you can get them to use software out there that makes it look live, for example, where if you're talking, it can look like they're filming you. There's software that'll let you go live on Facebook, and YouTube, and other platforms without you actually having to be there, and you can do a more intelligent style of social media where it's not relying on you to be on all the time. It's not putting your family out there, right, unnecessarily. It's not endangering your children.
Nick Dumitru: [15:55] Because on a side note, I have a partner out in Australia and he's done a lot of security work and I can tell you one of the worst things that I've seen is how children are taken advantage of online and how people start to obsess just because they've seen a photo on the internet and then they start to go after these children. I personally as a parent will not want to have to put my child on social media or on my marketing just to try to make money. I respect my privacy. If you're a more private person, then I want you to understand that you don't have to be the dancing clown these days, because every other expert and their mother is going to tell you that you need to do this. You need to put yourself out there. You need to get your family on there. You need to take selfies at the cottage. Nick Dumitru: 16:40 You don't have to do that. You do not have to do that. And this is why I'm saying. It's a bit of a contradictory stance that I have, only because I've done it so much. I've been at this for over 20 years. I've not had to request that of anyone that's worked with us in the past. Now, do I recommend social media? Absolutely. If you've got the bandwidth and the time and your business is doing well, then that's the time to really focus on it. If you're struggling for new patients, if right now you're making a little bit of money but not the kind of money that you should be making and you've got an extra 20, 30, 40, $50,000 that you're thinking of putting into marketing and maybe hiring a social media person or running advertising, I'll tell you if it's done right 100% of the time, not 99%, 100% of the time, you want to start running ads, because it's in your control and that will make a difference to your practice.
Nick Dumitru: [17:32] Okay, so I'm going to get off my soapbox a little bit. I just had to get that off my chest with the social media. I just thought that at that particular conference in Paris that it was just borderline irresponsible and dangerous to be telling doctors who are relying on their practices for their income, their family's income, and their employees, to really go whole hog in on social media as opposed to really focusing on the fundamentals of their marketing first, getting a thriving practice, and then investing back into social media and some organic once they've got that robust patient base and income coming into the practice. I don't want you to feel that you need that and I want you, depending on wherever you are in your business, whether you're doing well or not doing so well, to understand the reason behind social media, when to do it, how to do it, and the fact that it needs to be done in the right way.
Nick Dumitru: [18:26] I hope this has helped. If you enjoyed this podcast, and by all means, please subscribe to it on iTunes or your favorite podcast platform. I will be putting out more episodes like this. And check out our website if you are looking for any kind of additional information on this particular podcast or you want the transcripts, and the show notes, and any kind of links, they'll be at thinkbasis.com. That's T-H-I-N-K-B-A-S-I-S.com. Just look for the podcast link and you'll find this episode there. All right, thanks for listening and I will see you on the next episode.