Facebook and other social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, offer an incredible opportunity to market your medical practice. Compared to higher goals of medicine—restoring health, treating illness, and preserving the quality of life—social media marketing may seem like an uneasy fit with your professional aspirations. But for your practice to survive and thrive, you may need to learn how to make use of social media tools.
The freedom of expression fostered by social media allows you to project a personality that people will associate with your practice. You can communicate an outlook, such as caring and a focus on individual well-being, that will help people feel they know you even before their first appointment.
Build your professional Facebook page
Facebook remains the biggest social media network on the Internet, both in terms of total number of users and name recognition.1 Approximately two billion people worldwide each month use Facebook to connect with friends and family and find information.2 Millions of businesses, large and small, use Facebook to connect to potential customers.
Your professional page allows you to frequently contact patients and prospective patients on Facebook and remind them of your presence. Posting noteworthy items on your professional page will help ensure followers keep you in mind when they’re in need of medical services. If you write a medical practice blog, you can share links to your blog posts on your professional Facebook page.
Take advantage of digital word-of-mouth
Facebook's greatest strength as a marketing tool is its foundation as a network of friends. People can share your posts on Facebook with family, friends, and acquaintances, creating a digital form of word-of-mouth marketing for your practice. Word-of-mouth is considered by many to be the most effective marketing strategy.3
Your professional Facebook page for your medical practice is a separate entity from your personal page (also called your Facebook profile). Facebook purposefully creates a digital wall between professional pages and personal pages, and it's helpful to understand this distinction.
Your personal page on Facebook allows you to add friends and family members and communicate on an interpersonal level by sharing messages, photos, videos, and updates about life events. A professional page, by contrast, is a business account that represents an organization or an individual marketing a skill, product, or service. Creating this account allows you to promote healthcare services to followers who have engaged with your page by “liking” it.
Once you post to your professional page on Facebook, you can share this post to your personal page. This can help kick start your social-media outreach efforts. Family, friends, and acquaintances are more likely to "like," comment upon, and share your posts and thereby increase the number of Facebook users will see them. This is how word-of-mouth works in the digital realm.
Boost your posts
There are other ways to help ensure your posts reach more people—including more prospective patients. Facebook gives you the option to run targeted, paid promotions of posts from your professional page. Posts that you pay to boost on Facebook can reach users based on demographics, such as a specific radius within your community, or interests, such as health and well-being. Unlike a printed newspaper, Facebook provides detailed analysis of the results of your advertising spend.
Empower your marketing with analytics
Understanding social media analytics, from Facebook and other platforms, has emerged as a discipline of its own. Data derived from social media can tell you a great deal about the psychology, preferences, and concerns of patients and prospective patients. Businesses now mine information derived from social media for insights and incorporate their learnings to improve their marketing strategy.
As your practice's social media strategy matures, you may want the competitive edge offered by social media analytics. Consider obtaining professional support from a social media consultant or marketing agency.
Check out other social media networks, but set priorities
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn and other social networks provide additional opportunities to connect and share with patients and prospective patients. There are also doctors-only social media platforms such as Sermo that can help you network with professionals near your community and around the world, thereby increasing your referral base.
Be careful not to overextend yourself. We are living through a social media explosion. Staying active on every major social media platform with success is unlikely, because of limitations of time if nothing else. Determine which networks make the most sense for you to dedicate your time and efforts based on your goals and the demographics and social media preferences of your patient population.
Consider getting professional support
The barrier to entry for social media marketing is low. Every medical practice now has tools at their disposal to achieve success.
However, that doesn't mean marketing success comes easy. The proliferation of social media means competition for consumer attention can be intense—getting your message heard above the noise is only going to become more challenging.
Support from an individual professional or company—such as a social media consultant, marketing consultant, marketing agency, or digital advertising agency—can help you market more effectively. You can also craft a strategy that combines do-it-yourself marketing on your favorite social media platforms, backed up by professional support. Engage in the activities you enjoy the most and leave technically complex or burdensome tasks to hired professionals.
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1 Antony Maina, "20 Popular Social Media Sites Right Now, " Small Business Trends, last updated June 6, 2018. https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/05/popular-social-media-sites.html.
2 Facebook Company Information, accessed rel="noopener noreferrer" on January 4, 2019. https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/.
3 "12 Best Marketing Strategies for Medical Practices," rel="noopener noreferrer" The Script (blog), accessed on January 3, 2019. https://thescript.zocdoc.com/best-marketing-strategies-for-medical-practices/.