Leveraging Social Media for Physician Recruiting

by Brett Pollard on September 22, 2010

The following post is an excerpt from an upcoming article in a journal for the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters.  It’s the first in a series of articles addressing the opportunities of physician recruiting through social media networks.

Utilizing Social Media in the Physician Recruiting Process

For the past two years, many hospitals and health systems have been gradually implementing various aspects of social media into their marketing and communications strategy.  The healthcare industry has learned a variety of ways to leverage these platforms for a multitude of organizational benefits.  One of these emerging benefits is physician recruiting.

When it comes to recruiting physicians through social media channels, there are two primary functions.  First and foremost, social media offer excellent channels to communicate available physician openings.  Second, a strong social presence can assist in selling that opportunity.

Social media has created a dramatic shift in the ways people now communicate – physicians included.  Despite the fact physicians are generally busy and difficult to reach, they are becoming increasingly active on mainstream social networks.  Reaching out to physician candidates via social media is a good long-term strategy.

Four Mainstream Social Networks You Can Leverage

Although there are a handful of social networks solely intended for physicians, the opportunities for recruiting on such networks are limited or expensive.  Mainstream social networks offer a cost effective alternative for savvy physician recruiters.  In today’s online climate there are four such networks worthy of recruiting attention.

1. Facebook

The exponential growth and usage of Facebook is very well documented.  The number of hospitals creating and managing Facebook pages is also growing rapidly.  Organizations have learned how to improve the quality of the Facebook experience and connect with patients or other members of the community.  Consequently, many well-managed hospital Facebook pages have evolved into powerful communication portals.

By nature, Facebook fan pages offer an environment where hospitals can address many of the typical recruiting challenges.  Promoting the community, opportunity, differentiators and healthcare climate of a hospital should be a priority on these pages.

Effective hospital Facebook pages encourage user generated content.  This almost always contains unsolicited testimonials from users of the page.  It also serves to increase the volume of traffic to the page providing more opportunity to recruit.

2. Twitter

Twitter offers many communication benefits to hospitals and physician recruiting can now be counted among them.  Recruiters are beginning to understand how to connect with other healthcare professionals directly and through Twitter hashtag communities.

Utilizing Twitter search can allow recruiters to find medical professionals by region or by specialty.  When recruiters build a large, targeted list of followers their tweets are made available to a broader audience and are more likely to be shared with others.  Another benefit of Twitter is the ability to integrate tweets with Facebook and Linkedin – expanding the audience even further.

Physician recruiting on Twitter

3. YouTube

Although YouTube doesn’t provide a dedicated space for posting job listings, it can be an important component of social media recruitment.  Video creation, editing and uploading have become a very simple process and if a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 10,000. Video can be used to promote the hospital, practice and community makingYouTube an excellent complimentary recruiting tool.

YouTube is also very search friendly.  Physicians looking to research an opportunity are likely to find videos that recruiters have posted to YouTube and like Twitter, YouTube videos can be easily shared or embedded into other social platforms.

4. Linkedin

Perhaps the most natural recruiting fit of the mainstream social platforms is Linkedin.  This is because its primary function is to connect professionals.  Within Linkedin, there are a variety of groups related to doctors and healthcare, allowing for strong networking possibilities.  In addition, Linkedin has a built-in job posting service leveraging the various degrees of connections on the network.  The site claims that a single job listing is shared an average of 11 times with colleagues.

Third Party Services

Social media engagement is not a simple process.  It requires a detailed understanding of each platform used.  It also requires time and resources which is why many hospitals have turned to third party services to assist with their social media efforts.  There are several services available, but two of them in particular are being used actively by healthcare recruiting pioneers.

1. Tweet My Jobs

TweetMyJobs.com works by tweeting your job listings to a targeted group of prospective job seekers.  They have 9,500+ job channels broken down by region or job type.  These job types do include a wide variety of physician specialties.  One of their newer service offerings, JobBurst, adds a layer on top of their core tweeting service in order to promote listings on Linkedin and Facebook as well.

In an effort to automate the listing process, Tweet My Jobs can electronically scrape current job listings posted by their clients and then tweet the listing to the targeted group of Twitter followers.  Gary Zukowski, CEO of TweetMyJobs.com says, “Hospitals and healthcare in general have been surprising and progressive users of the service.”  In fact, they have more healthcare clients than nearly any other industry.

TweetMyJobs.com Service

2. Jobing Technology Services

Jobing Technology Services enables you to integrate your hospital career center within a Facebook fan page.  This allows physicians and other healthcare professionals to research your hospital, find a position and apply for a position within the Facebook framework.

The service is made possible with a custom application called Jobs on Facebook. It can be used on a page dedicated to recruiting or the application can be added as a tab to an existing hospital Facebook page.

Physician job listings using the Jobing Tech application

Social Recruiting in Practice

The number of hospitals already using mainstream social media to supplement their physician recruiting efforts is clearly growing.  One such organization is St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix which is a member of the Catholic Healthcare West system.

De Anne Russell, a human resources recruiter for St. Joseph’s points out they are still learning the nuances of social media, but “our social recruiting efforts have been a huge success – especially in increasing community awareness of St. Joseph’s as a desirable employer.”

Their progressive approach to social recruiting, which began in May of 2009, was well planned and clearly defined.  Not only are they attracting strong candidates but the organization views their social media effort as a way to demonstrate the St. Joseph’s career experience.  By communicating expectations upfront, they expect to further decrease an already impressive first year turnover rate.

Recruiting on Facebook

The HR team at St. Joseph’s utilizes both of the third party applications mentioned in this article.  When it comes to Twitter, each of the recruiters has their own Twitter account broadening the scope of potential followers and there is also an account specifically for St. Joseph’s jobs.  For Facebook, they chose to integrate their recruiting efforts into the primary St. Joseph’s Facebook page.  This allows them to take advantage of the existing traffic to the page and present a seamless process to the user.

Despite the fact some of their social efforts are not being tracked, they are still able to determine that Facebook and Twitter rank among their top traffic sources to the jobs section on the St. Joseph’s web site.  The volume of traffic continues to increase over time.

Due to the success of their Facebook and Twitter recruiting efforts, St. Joseph’s intends to increase their efforts on both YouTube and Linkedin.

A Look to the Future

Online advertising has long been a strategy for staff physician recruiters.  The addition of a strong social presence enhances the possibilities and opens up another line of communication with prospective physicians.

There are many online marketing indicators suggesting content will be increasingly customized for the individual user.  This means the more connections your organization makes on social media platforms the more often your content will be viewed.

Social recruiting is certainly in its infancy but the results are noticeable and encouraging.  Hospitals taking a proactive approach to physician recruiting through social media stand to benefit just as they have from embracing social media for marketing and public relations.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

David Payne January 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Brett,
Thanks for the read. Not sure if you’re familiar with MD Pathways, but while I’m biased, one of the only niche digital media platforms for physician recruiting. Take a look; thanks again.

Physician Recruiters January 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Using social media is a great way to keep employers up to date on your accomplishments and continuing experience, however, using a job recruiting service is a way to get help on getting companies to find you.

Margo Schlossberg May 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

Fantastic article and the St Joseph’s facebook page really did show seamless integration. Thanks for the great information!

Brett Pollard May 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

Margo,

Thanks. I’m glad you found the article useful. I intend to provide an updated version in the coming weeks to address some social recruiting success stories.

Sandy Manon September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Brett, Have you done any speaking engagements on this subject?

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