Vania Manipod, DO, creates videos for her website to educate patients on how to better care for their mental health. Here, she collaborates on a Youtube video with Dr. Kien Vuu.
Brand You

6 quick ways to build your DO brand

Building a brand for yourself doesn’t have to be an all-consuming project. Here are a few simple ways to get started.

For some physicians, developing a brand that attracts prospective patients is an important component of career growth. But given the ongoing needs of patient care and round-the-clock schedules, it can be difficult to find time to create and grow your brand. Several DOs who’ve invested in building their own brands offer these easy steps to get started on building your own personal DO or medical student brand.

Set brand goals

First, it is helpful to define what your goals are and understand how they tie into the overall vision you have for your medical career. “Stay true to yourself and what you’re passionate about and what energizes you,” says psychiatrist Vania Manipod, DO. Dr. Manipod’s website, Freud & Fashion, debunks the myth that mental health is taboo with the tagline, ‘Because it’s stylish to talk about mental health, especially how we maintain our own.’

Choose your platform wisely 

Identifying your audience will help you determine how best to reach them. 

“Find the demographic of the patient [you] are looking to attract and then find the social media platform that will best reach them,” says neuromusculoskeletal medicine specialist Jonathan Bruner, DO, owner of Mobility Medicine, a private practice in Bloomfield, Michigan. “For instance, Instagram and Yelp tend to attract younger users, Facebook tends to have older users and LinkedIn has more professional users.”

Dr. Bruner uses patient testimonials to help build his brand, along with updating his site and blog regularly and using social media to stay engaged.

Dr. Manipod suggests beginning with a platform that you’re comfortable with. “If you enjoy photography or tend to be more visual, try out Instagram, or if you enjoy writing and web design, then start a blog,” she says.

Engage with your audience

Once you’ve decided on your platform, make sure the content you’re posting is relevant, timely and reflects your brand as an expert in your field. “I get my ideas from news trends, social media trends, scholarly works and patient interactions,” says Dr. Bruner, who designed his own website and updates it regularly himself.

Your content will likely generate comments, and those comments, as well as your response to them as the physician, are just as important as your content. 

“Respond to comments, ask followers what type of content they’d like to see more of from you and stay consistent,” Dr. Manipod says. “As physicians, the public looks to us as leaders, so emphasize your knowledge, expertise, and the reasons people will want to follow you in the first place. People also want to have an idea of who you are as a person, so convey certain aspects of your personality and what makes you unique.”

Most social media platforms allow you to set up alerts that can be sent to your email or your phone, which will allow you to be aware of and respond to feedback in a timely manner.

Seek education 

Don’t be discouraged by a bad review or if you’re not attracting the number of followers, likes, shares or users that you want.

“Try and stay motivated to figure out what you can do to improve,” says Dr. Manipod, who notes that physicians are learning to build their brands via social media forums and podcasts. “We aren’t taught how to market ourselves during schooling, so it’s okay to seek out resources to educate ourselves on something that might seem so foreign.”

Dr. Manipod recommends the following: The Influencer podcast with Julie Solomon, Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast, Amanda Bucci’s Youtube channel and podcast, Tim Ferriss podcast and the Doctors on Social Media Facebook Forum. 

“I consult with other doctors about brand-building, marketing and advertising,” Dr. Bruner says. Seeking advice from fellow physicians is helpful, Dr. Bruner says, who is trying to raise awareness of his specialty, neuromusculoskeletal medicine.

“In our specialty, we try to figure out a way to get noticed,” he says.

Pay attention to patient reviews

Online reviews can also be instrumental in creating a positive following and making your area of expertise known. Whether you’re in private practice of part of a health care group, patients often look at physician reviews before booking an appointment. 

“Patient testimonials may be the most important aspect of social media, but the most difficult to get,” Dr. Bruner says. “Patients tend to only want to write them if they have had a really bad experience.”  

Many health care offices or private practices use signs asking for patient reviews and allow patients to leave comments on their website. Dr. Bruner sends an email to patients requesting a review after their first visit. Staying abreast of what is being said or shared about you is an important component of developing and maintaining your brand. Consider creating a Google Alert for your name.

Get inspired

To generate ideas and inspiration, look at how other DOs are building their brands. Here are a few examples to get started:

  1. Jonathan Bruner, DO – Mobility Medicine
  2. Vania Manipod, DO – Freud & Fashion
  3. Camilo Ruiz, DO, and Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz, DO – Choice Physicians South Florida

In addition, Dr. Manipod will be speaking at OMED about how to maintain and grow a professional presence online that incorporates social media. Hear her at 11:30 am on Sunday, Oct. 7, on the OMED Central Stage inside the Experience Zone (Exhibit Hall B).

Dr. Bruner says that despite the emerging influence of social media and online branding, what’s most important is still the same. “The heart of osteopathic medicine is the same as it was when my grandfather was practicing and teaching,” Dr. Bruner says. “It is still about caring for people.  It is learning about who our patients are and where they are from and how we can make their lives better. It is what our brand is built on.”

Further reading:

Should physicians be friends with their patients on social media?

The AOA’s Social Media Guidelines for DOs and osteopathic medical students

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