Social media is an inexorable part of modern life — and a go-to place for people to find the healthcare services they need.
In fact, research indicates that 3 out of 4 adults have searched online for information about a provider or practice, while 77% of patients report seeking information online sometimes or often. With the number of social media users in the United States expected to reach over 331 million by 2028, it makes sense to spend some time connecting with potential patients online as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Whether you’re diving into social media for the first time or want to breathe new life into your current strategy, start by following these simple tips.
Define goals for social media for your medical practice
As with most things in life, creating an action plan with clear and achievable goals is an important foundation. Developing a social media strategy will help you stay focused, build momentum, signpost your progress, and ensure that you don’t waste time or resources on activities that don’t serve your overall goals.
The first step is to determine your overall motivation for social media marketing. Are you trying to enroll more patients? Advertise new services? Connect with a different segment of the population? Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field? Figuring out your motivation will help you to determine the platforms you want to use and the types of content you want to post.
For instance, if your goal is to advertise that your medical practice now offers a new type of treatment or therapy, you might research how other providers advertise similar services using posts and hashtags to drive patients to their profile. On the other hand, if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader, you might consider which professional groups and associations to follow and engage to become part of the online conversation.
Clarify your social media approach
Once you’ve determined the “why,” you can start considering how you want to grow your online presence. Consider the following:
- Frequency: How often you want to post and how often you have the time to post might not match up. Consider picking one or two days a week to post content and then building that time into your schedule.
- Format: What type of content are you comfortable posting? Images? Videos? Live discussions? While different types of content perform better with different audiences, when you’re starting out, the best type is whatever you can commit to posting regularly.
- Function: It’s great if you get followers, but to what end? Do you have a practice website to which to drive them? Do you have an easy way for prospective patients to digitally enroll or schedule appointments?
Select your social media platforms
Picking the platforms you want to use is like picking your battles: only engage if you’re committed and confident in your ability to see it through.
For instance, you might love the idea of creating a YouTube channel to showcase your expertise and your practice’s services, but if you don’t have the time or experience to produce high-quality videos, it might not make sense to focus your efforts on them.
“75% of patients would follow their doctor on Facebook. ”
It’s simple to post to Instagram and Facebook at the same time using the same content, so these platforms are a way to expand your reach without expending more effort. LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to connect with other professionals in your field or stay on top of current trends, but they aren’t always the first choice for patients, so consider your use accordingly.
Connect with your communities
Once you create profiles on your chosen platforms, the next step is to connect with both your online and your physical communities.
To connect with your online community, start by following practices with which you’ve already established a relationship. This can include practices where you yourself are a patient, or those run by colleagues you met at a conference or even friends from medical school. Hashtags are another great way to find providers who offer the same services or are talking about the same topics. Once you start to follow the profiles of these practices, it’s important to like and make (appropriate) comments on posts. This not only engenders good will among your peers, it also raises your visibility organically.
Connecting with your physical community is equally important — and serves as a good way to keep your finger on the local pulse. This means following organizations like your regional chamber of commerce, local newspapers, schools, parks and recreation organizations, athletic teams, public libraries, and other civic organizations. Again, interacting with posts is an easy way to raise your name recognition and connect with your community.
Consistency is key to social marketing, on several levels.
First, it’s important to keep your handle, logo, bio, and any other basic information about your practice as consistent as possible across platforms and profiles. While it’s not always possible, try to make everything line up as closely as possible.
Second, it’s important to post consistently. Not only do the algorithms behind social media platforms factor in the frequency with which you post, but posting at regular intervals shows prospective clients that your practice is established and staffed by professionals.
Artisan Chiropractic in Houston offers a great example of a practice that models consistency in both branding and cadence. This one-woman chiropractic practice posts to its Instagram and Facebook profiles regularly using a good mix of still images and videos. The provider uses social media to offer tips to prevent pain when working out, answer common questions about chiropractic care, and communicate with patients about practice hours or upcoming events.
On the other end of the spectrum, Interventional Pain Doctors, a large pain management practice with 4 providers and multiple office locations. Despite the number of providers and locations, this practice also does a good job of consistently posting a variety of content on Instagram and Facebook that informs, engages, and amuses patients.
Don’t be afraid to try new things — or bring in a pro
Social media trends come and go and the platforms evolve constantly, so don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment to see what works best for your practice. If you get tired of one type of post, change it up. While there are plenty of best practices and tips for success, there are no rules.
And if your practice grows so much that you don’t have time to dedicate to social media marketing or you want to take it to the next level, consider hiring a content creator or social media manager to run your profiles so you can get back to focusing on patient care.