Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Digital Marketing A Psychiatric Practice?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on May 18, 2016


Should I have a Facebook page? Should I put a “boost” on Facebook and invest in the marketing of my practice? Maybe I should advertise on Yelp, or use Google ads to promote myself? Once again, there is a massive generational divide. Young psychiatrists feel the answer is “of course”. Whereas my generation and above feel the fear; the fear of loss of privacy, the fear of being slammed on the internet, the fear of feeling like a failure since if we are good, we should not have to advertise. Being on television or YouTube does not mean you are a better psychiatrist, but it can appear that way. Marketers have been around for a long time, even for psychiatrists, but in the past this was a dark secret. Today, there is competition for the best marketing avenues. Plastic Surgeons are using Snapchat to show their work. My feeling is that the internet is a marvelous communication tool in which I can reach people who, in another era, would never hear my point of view. By hearing my point of view, prospective patients can decide if, perhaps, I am a good fit for them. Word of mouth is great, but it is limited, and so the internet opens up the opportunity for consumers to have more information before making that first appointment. I think that is very exciting and helpful. At the same time, the skill of digital marketing eludes me. It seems really hard to know which sites are worth investing in, and which drain the marketing budget. The old saying that half of marketing is a major waste, but the problem is that no one knows which half, rings true to me. I can see the philosophy where you throw the spaghetti on the wall and you see what sticks. Analyzing one’s marketing time and money is key to understanding how to get the word out.

My shop is open, and I have no shame. I have all of the necessary credentials, along with decades of experience, but no one would know that, unless I tell them. The onus is on me to package myself in a way that works, both for me and the patient. Can the internet be used against me? Of course. Every intervention requires a risk. Courage is the name of the game. If I put myself out there, I allow patients to offer their opinions about me, for all to see. I understand that downside, and I accept. The internet is a wonderful marketing tool and I embrace it.

4 Responses to “Digital Marketing A Psychiatric Practice?”

  1. Shelly said

    Even if you don’t put yourself out there, patients will still offer their opinions for all to see. You blog, so what’s the difference between blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, Snapchatting, Yelping and all the rest? The older generation (not us!) is afraid of social networking but is less afraid of television; the younger generation can’t remember a world without computers and iphones. Why not do a little of both? The competition is doing it, so you’re going to have to keep up or your message is going to be lost.

    • Yes, your questions are my questions. I think it is hard to know, although drilling down into the analytics (big data) might help. And yes, I agree. The internet has given me an opportunity to express myself in ways that were unthinkable before. I am grateful.

  2. Eleanor said

    Shirah I would say go for it (Facebook would be my choice) but just make sure your have your comprehensive and amazing list of qualifications…training, experience, etc. in easy view somewhere. Folks need to know just “who you are”. Also I realize I’ve mentioned this before but I still would like to see you have an abbreviated simplified version of your blog on Facebook (with links back to your regular blog postings when necessary for further reading clarification). You need to reach the fast paced modern day layperson’s culture who have little or no knowledge about psychodynamic approaches and thinking but ought too!! Your recent posted video on Transference is an excellent example of making these concepts understandable. American Psychoanalytic Facebook site is excellent but I think you could do better. And actually you might be able to combine these two approaches…promoting yourself and practice along with abbreviated simplified blog.
    Just thinkin’…:-)

    • Hi Eleanor,
      I appreciate your thinking, and I take your points very seriously. As an interim measure, I am on twitter, and so I do post there when I find an article about mental health which fascinates me. Your point though, about linking platforms, is part of the wonders of digital technology so I need to pursue that. Thanks, as always.

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