buying followers

Why buying followers will damage your practice

If you were thinking of buying followers for your social media profile as a doctor, think twice. In this article, I will cover the dos and don’ts and we will unpack why buying followers can officially be labelled ‘an idea that needs further inspection’. The summary: Don’t.
buying followers

Why buying followers will damage your practice

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

December 8, 2021

The temptation: getting more Instagram followers

buying followers on Instagram

When you have decided to build a strong online profile, one of your first action points could be setting up your Instagram profile. The next step is sometimes a tricky one: how do you move the counter away from zero followers as a doctor?

That third time you asked a patient to follow you on Instagram as they left your clinic, you possibly felt so awkward about it that you never did it again. The counter now stuck on 23 followers (those three and your family), you googled ‘buying Instagram followers’ and briefly saw the light. You were now officially looking into buying followers on Instagram! 

The offers look tempting, the process looks simple and the cost reasonable. Buying Instagram followers feels like the perfect shortcut so you don’t have to earn every follower with content. The promises in the ads are clear: “Get real Instagram followers within 10 minutes!” or “Increase your Instagram following by 50% at exceptionally low rates!“

After all, once you have those 1,000, won’t it be much easier to see others join in simply because they could be missing out on something great?

However…the reality of the matter is: it’s not that simple. It can damage your online presence, your reputation and your business. Let’s unpack what is really going on when you start buying followers as a doctor.

The social media reality: buying more followers raises a flag

the pitfall of buying followers

The essence of buying followers: It’s a scam. The result of your purchase is always a product of low-quality interaction coming from fake accounts. A lot can be said about Meta’s own attitude and ethics in the social media space, but if they are clear about one thing, it’s that: fake likes, comments and followers don’t go down well with the general terms and conditions of platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

So there you have it. The algorithms behind the platforms are trained and tweaked to detect this kind of spammy content that you would pay for. In the end, it could mean that your account is suspended and you lose more than the 3,000 virtual followers you have just purchased! You also lose your organic content and the 23 real followers you had in the first place. Admittedly, your family will follow you again once you have found the time to set up a completely new Instagram profile from scratch.

If you had previously done a lot of work to get up to 1,000 followers in your local catchment area, and you had been creating these beautiful educational posts, they are now gone. Your reputation in the local community takes a blow and you might have been breaching the applicable medical advertising guidelines.

Let’s agree we want to avoid this kind of debacle and focus on how we can get real genuine followers that actually help you achieve what you are here for: To build a successful health practice that helps as many patients as possible.

The purpose: Why you are on social media as a doctor

Instagram followers for doctors

This is the right time to take a look at why you want to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn in the first place. If you have decided to give it a try, or you have established that you want to reach out to the segment of those 1 billion Instagram users that lives in the catchment area of your practice, then you have a purpose.

That purpose is to spread the word about your work. To amplify word-of-mouth. To raise awareness. To educate. All of that is great stuff to work with, also because it can be done in compliance with the advertising regulations that apply to your practice and in a very effective way.

buying followers

Remember that the purpose of any social media presence as a doctor is influence. When patients are entering the stage where they might need help from a specialist at some point in the future, you want to be an ethical, consistent influencer.

What that means for your social media posts:

  • Ethical: Because you only communicate about what is true, you don’t give away free consultations every Thursday at 4 pm, and you respect the advertising rules.
  • Consistent: You can only start building this type of influence once your flow of content has reached a certain predictable quality and an authentic character.
  • Influencer: You want your content to reach the people in your catchment area who are following certain hashtags. You want to influence them in that you are on their mind when they need your help or know someone who does.

Can you now see that even the cheapest package of bought followers won’t work: Buying followers will not give you anyone to influence simply because there is nobody there. It’s the bots and the automated processes that are artificially cranking up your counter… not your patient numbers. And even if the Black Friday deal promises you that your followers are real humans, chances are they have been offered a job that looks very much like what a bot would do if it took a job.

The safe way: How to gain real followers as a doctor?

social media for doctors

When we work together we won’t apply a one-size-fits-all model to ask random people around the world to follow you. We will look at what you want to achieve and then focus on the strategy that gets you there.

The leading doctors we work with consider their followers as people, patients, members of their community and potential customers. To them, this is about real conversations.

The focus is relevance. If you are doing this to grow your clinic in a specific location, you would obviously want people in the local community to follow you. If you are a gynaecologist, discussing women’s health topics and providing lifestyle advice on a regular basis, is a starting point. What happens next is that real, genuine people in your community start sharing your content, others start following you and you get that nice, viral effect that social media can generate.

A social-media mix is best made up of authentic, spontaneous posts that may or may not include live videos, links to relevant content on your website, short and punchy facts, or seasonal posts that build a strong connection with your community.

Let’s take a look at some inspiring examples:

Dr Howard Luks, on Facebook: This orthopaedic surgeon engages with his local community about all-things-medical and even though joints are his speciality, he makes an effort to engage about broader healthcare topics.

Dr Tamara Hunter, on Instagram: Live videos, a variety of visual posts, and a consistent connection with the content marketing strategy applied on her websites.

Obesity Surgery WA, on Facebook: An informative mix, combining education and human stories with research updates.

Should a doctor be on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn?

social media for doctors

There is no book of golden rules and the bottom line is to choose your social media tools wisely.

We know that each social media platform has its own dynamics and user demographics. Choosing your social media platform(s) is the critical first step when you are building your practice, and it’s quite possible that yours won’t be Instagram.

Instagram is designed for the quick visual experience on smartphones and may not reach generations above a certain age. What does it mean when someone is following a doctor?
On Instagram, that would be mostly for a quick, visually interesting snapshot.

Facebook traditionally allows for longer posts, links, and reaches a broad group of people, now that many grandparents are on it.
Elga has heard her family physician mention the word endometriosis a few times. He seemed unsure and suggested Elga would book a consult with the gynaecologist down the road. Elga’s friend learns about the GP consultation and sends Elga to a Facebook Page by a local gynaecologist Dr G who publishes regular updates on women’s health. Elga becomes a patient of Dr G’s because the live videos, posts and article links to the gynaecologists’ website gave her a good feeling, rapport and trust.In this case, Dr G’s Facebook followers do the work for Dr G, amplifying word-of-mouth…or better, amplifying curated posts and sending them to other people in the local community.

LinkedIn is my personal favourite for specialist doctors and surgeons who want to become influencers toward referring general practitioners. Picture this. Dr L reaches out to 50 general practitioners in her catchment area via LinkedIn. She posts interesting articles on her specialty every fortnight and invites GPs to ask her questions in direct messages via LinkedIn. As a result, 20 of those GPs are now ongoing referrers to her specialist practice.

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Don’t buy followers, get one free

buying followers

Instead of buying 1,000 followers, get one free! I will start following you and not only that. I can offer you a free strategy session via Zoom, to discuss your influencer ambitions, the most cost-effective way to leverage your online presence and grow your private practice. I look forward to meeting you!

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