If Facebook is the personal social network then LinkedIn is the world’s professional social network. This site boasts 259 million members worldwide and nearly half of those, 110 million are in the US. With one-third of the entire US population on the service it would seem like a great place for getting access to healthcare professionals outside of normal channels.
Not so fast. It turns out that the 110 million members are not evenly distributed across all job types. For example in our industry here at Klick, digital marketing, we have nearly 100% coverage but physicians, it turns out, are wary of exposing themselves on social media of any kind.
It’s not difficult to imagine why, physicians operating in the litigious US environment need to ensure they have as few points of exposure as possible. Also, patients are clamoring for more access to their doctors, and would like nothing more than to be able to email them for advice directly. It doesn’t take too much imagination to predict what could happen to a physician’s LinkedIn message box with a connection to the wrong patient.
What’s the Truth?
But, all of this is conjecture without actual proof. Like all modern social platforms, LinkedIn allows you to estimate your audience by using different criteria. I spent a few hours and searched for all of the most common specialty types, with variants, and created the following chart. Only specialties with over 1,000 members were shown, so some didn’t make it:
These numbers are the total self-reported physicians and specialists on the system. Also, they are titles so each member could have more than one title over time as they change jobs, though physicians are less likely to do that than other specialties.
So, these numbers are interesting, but how do they compare to the actual physician population in the US?
Comparing the Populations
When we cross-index against an SK&A OneKey segmentation report (from 2011, so it’s outdated, but it will give directional insights at least) we find that the specialties vary significantly, just like other professions.
When we compare all US LinkedIn users claiming a physician title we get a total of 367 thousand users with SK&A showing 763 thousand physicians in the US. This gives a ratio of 48% of physicians on LinkedIn which would seem to be a good ratio except:
- We are double-counting some LinkedIn members if they changed titles
- The LinkedIn data is self-reported and so is certainly somewhat inflated
- The largest group are “Physician” and “Medical Doctor” which are also the most likely to be either duplicates or inaccurate
While there is no doubt the totals are somewhat inflated, there are definitely some physicians on the platform. So, we compared some specialties to get a sense of what types of physicians have profiles on the system.
The results of this analysis were remarkably positive for LinkedIn. Some of the specialties with high ratios look fairly trustworthy. For example, why would someone call themselves an Anesthesiologist on LinkedIn if they, in fact, were not qualified?
The drop off of specialties shows that some physicians are more attracted to LinkedIn than others.
The takeaway of this research? Give LinkedIn a look as a social channel to add to your media mix. You may find results there that outshine the more common channels if your target audience has adopted the platform.