A new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that the number of Americans using “check-in” services has doubled in the past nine months. For those who don’t know, “checking-in” is a feature of several social networks like Facebook and Foursquare. It allows users to share their location with friends, family and colleagues. And, encouraging your patients to check-in is not only a great way to communicate on social networks, but also a marketing strategy to help grow your practice!
Many of the people I talk with think “checking in” is a dangerous invasion of privacy. Some parents don’t want just anyone to know where their kids are hanging out. On the other hand if you see it as a way for friends to see where the other is and to arrange impromptu meetings if they are close by, it is a great service. It is nothing more than the modern version of teenagers telling friends that they will be hanging out at the mall.
Of course telling a friend over the phone you are going to the mall and marking your exact location at that exact time in a forum the whole world could see are in fact different. I admit I am in the “creeps me out” camp when it comes to checking in.
Never the less I was talking with an orthodontic practice that makes great use of social media and they told me many of their patients “check in” with Facebook when they come for an appointment. Of course these are Orthodontic patients which means early teens. A demographic that is much more at ease with social media and less concerned with privacy. This results in Facebook conversations between friends which eventually leads to discussions of the orthodontist and hopefully eventually some new patients who found out about the practice when their friend “checked in”.