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Return on investment (or ROI) is a familiar concept to nearly every business owner. It is the measure of the effectiveness of a marketing strategy, represented as a percentage of positive or negative growth. In the traditional world of economics, ROI refers to a formula which subtracts the amount of marketing expense from the gross amount of a company’s profit (or “return”) and then divides it by the marketing expense (or “investment”). By this definition, it may seem easy to put your medical marketing ROI into concrete figures. Just take a look at your accounting records. It’s all there in black. (And hopefully not red!)

But when it comes to social media, the amount of return your practice receives may be hard to determine. The efficacy of a social media campaign often cannot be defined in such substantial terms, because a social media marketing strategy in a healthcare setting involves more than a simple exchange of money. It’s true that as a part of your medical marketing strategy, social media can help increase patient visits and generate leads. However, this may only be part of a bigger picture that you, as a healthcare provider, have for your practice.

For example: when you sit down to write your weekly blog, do you write with passion about profit? How about when you open up your Facebook page to engage in a dialogue with a potential patient? Likely not. As a physician, your priorities are patient safety and healthy lifestyles. The patient comes first.

Keeping that in mind, how can you put such an intangible concept into numbers? Is social media ROI the number of Twitter followers you have? Is it the number of likes your Facebook page receives on a consistent basis? Not necessarily. Consider WakeMed, the local community hospital. It has a little less than two thousand fans on Facebook and around three thousand followers on Twitter. Even when combining those numbers, that’s still a large disparity for a hospital that sees over two hundred thousand patients a year. It is less than three percent of its total patronage.

Social media ROI is not a measure of popularity. It’s a measure of efficacy. If you only have a handful of followers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve invested too much time or money into your social media campaign. In order to track your ROI, you need to consider the desired end – your social media goal. Are you trying to increase the number of patient visits? Are you trying to fulfill patient needs that are otherwise going unmet? Are you offering a better solution to a prominent problem? You must understand your intent before you can attach a value to it.

Mindstream Creative works with your practice to determine that value. Through healthcare consulting and social media management, we can create a strategic marketing plan that can meet your practice’s needs in the most efficient manner. Driving social media ROI starts with a vision. Come share yours with us!