Here I sit, drenched in flop sweat.
I have been discovered.
@drrwinters you're paying to have your posts promoted?!?!
— movinmeat (@movinmeat) August 16, 2013
It is true. I—a physician—promoted some tweets on Twitter.
And more important: Am I any different than those drug reps I block from my department and whom others hide under tables to ignore?
Read on, brave reader, I will reveal the sordid details.
How it all started.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the disruption of health care. I posted it in our hospital’s medical staff newsletter and received positive feedback. I felt good about this post and had spent a good amount of time writing and editing it. I wanted to share it. I wanted to hear what other people thought.
My blog site, RichardWinters.com, at that time was getting about 20 visits each day (I have a big family). So I decided that I would submit the blog as a guest post to a high traffic medical blog.
I was turned down by one blog with a polite form letter, and the other said that it was a great post (and could I also write about my experience as an executive coach for physician leaders). Then they forgot me, and it was not published.
So I published the blog on my own site. It was retweeted by 3 people and favorited by 1 with a daily traffic spike on my blog of 40 visitors.
Health care is on the verge of a beautiful disruption. Patients take charge. Adapt (or topple). My latest post: http://t.co/NzXfEYx2VM
— Richard Winters MD (@drrwinters) August 11, 2013
And I asked myself:
- Am I writing a diary or am I writing about ideas that I want to share? No, I am not writing a diary. That would be far more interesting and have at least as many retweets.
- How do I reach those who don’t follow me? (other than writing daily for years and slowly building an audience) I like my Twitter friends, but we are sort of an open but remote community of emergency physicians. I’d like to reach more physicians in specialties outside our own.
- What if I promoted the post on Twitter? If nobody responded, the message would be clear: Either I stink as a writer (only good writers get retweets and followers—a known twitter #fact) or promoting a tweet is just so dang narcissistically creepy that it’s more repulsive than following Jenny MacCarthy (not to be confused with Jenny McCarthy).
So I trialed a promoted tweet on Twitter. And here were the results:
The post went from:
- 3 retweets to 53 retweets
- 1 favorite to 31 favorites
- 40 visits per day to 250 visits per day
I also gained 111 followers.
(These numbers are higher since I turned off the ad.)
What were the criteria for the sponsored tweet?
It was shown:
- only to people who don’t follow me
- to Twitterers with similar interests
- only in the US
- to all platforms (even Blackberry)
- men and women
- 6.13% of those who were shown the ad retweeted, replied or followed me (known as engagement)
- the cost per engagement was $0.45
Was it worth it?
- I picked up a couple more coaching clients. They are physician leaders in senior health care positions.
- I was offered an opportunity to guest blog at one of the sites that initially said no. (they may yet again forget me)
- I was contacted by a professor at the University where I got my MBA.
- I had some nice conversations with new Twitter friends.
- I have an opportunity to learn from bigger group of Twitter friends.
- I have a deeper understanding of one more small facet of social media.
- I got no complaints. (though perhaps my Twitter HCAHPS survey will reveal something different)
Will I advertise on Twitter again?
Social media provides physicians an opportunity to learn, teach, and lead health care. It provides an opportunity to connect for greater impact. I want to understand it deeply and also help others understand it.
I think it’s important that the tweets I promote:
- are honest about what is beyond the clicked link.
- link to the same content that I already blog (i.e. social rss).
- are educational (and perhaps a bit entertaining).
Will I advertise this blog post with a promoted tweet?
I will promote it as two different tweets. A randomized A/B experiment to see how different titles affect engagement rates.
1. How a physician used Twitter ads to increase followers, retweets and favorites for a blog post. My experience: [link]
2. A physician advertising on Twitter is exposed. The sordid details. My confession: [link]
If you want to hear about:
- the head-to-head results of the new ads
- the results of promoting my twitter username
- more details of costs and the most effective devices/platforms
- insight as to how to get a bigger result for a lower cost