Lessons Learned from Doing Online Marketing for a Doctor

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doctorAt Oil Can, we have clients in numerous professional fields – from doctors and lawyers, to non-profits, to an auto repair shop. The online marketing methods and strategies we employ differ across these industries. What makes sense for a law firm may not make sense for an auto mechanic, and vice versa. In this article I’m going to discuss some of the lessons we’ve learned about online marketing in the medical field.

One of our longest standing clients is a foot and ankle doctor in the Twin Cities. We run the blog and social media accounts for his practice. Here are two lessons we’ve learned from running his account.

Lesson #1 – Abide by HIPPA, Never Talk about Patient Specifics Online

HIPPA guidelines exist to protect patient privacy. They prevent your doctor’s office from giving out your personal health information (except under rare circumstances), and they also apply to the virtual space of blogging and social media.

When interacting with people on social media from, it’s important to never talk about patient specifics. If a person comments on a Facebook post and asks what they should do about their sprained ankle, do not give a direct diagnosis or treatment recommendation. Instead respond in general terms about the condition. It’s the difference between this:

  • “It’s sounds like you have a sprained ankle, I would recommend NSAIDs to manage the pain”

And this:

  • “For ankle sprains I generally recommend over the counter NSAIDs and avoiding physical activity.”

See the difference? It may just save you (or your client) from a malpractice suit.

Lesson #2 – It’s a Relatively Empty Online Space

Compared to online marketing for attorneys, doctors have it much easier simply because the playing field is much sparser. Go to almost any law firm website and you will likely see a blog of some sort. Legal blogging has long been a part of a successful marketing strategy for attorneys (if done well, that is). Comparatively, there just aren’t that many physicians running their own blogs. As a result, it took much less time to gain visibility for this physician, than it did for the attorneys we had been working with at the time. It’s truly an untapped resource for doctors looking to expand their practice.

Well that’s all for now, but I’ll be back with a follow up post in the near future with some more lessons learned from the trenches of online marketing in the medical realm.

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Ryan McGinty

Ryan has a B.A. in English with a writing emphasis from Gustavus Adolphus College. Prior to launching Oil Can Marketing he was the Marketing Communications Manager at Appelman Law Firm for three years. Ryan is an avid home brewer, and enjoys reading, writing, and playing guitar in his spare time. In some circles he’s known as “Chef Ryan” – and hosts his own cooking show on youtube. He currently resides in South Minneapolis with his wife, Lauren.


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