Social media is often the big elephant in the room when it comes to marketing anything in healthcare. With so many issues around hostility, scams, and protecting patient privacy, many medical practices choose to stay away from social media all together.
Unfortunately, this is not a smart move when it comes to your marketing portfolio. If you want your practice to have an online presence, you need to have a social media presence as well. In this article, I’ll outline safe ways to build your social media profiles and tips for using them as a part of your marketing strategy.
The Best Social Media Platforms For Medical Practices
There are countless social media channels on the market today. However, when it comes to using social media as a marketing tool, some social platforms are better than others. This is our breakdown of the top social media platforms available today.
Facebook is perhaps one of the best known platforms available today. This is a top choice when it comes to medical practice marketing. Facebook creates useful business homepages that make it easy for prospective patients to access information like business hours, phone number, address, and more. Facebook also focuses on local connections, making it easy to target patients in your area.
Facebook does have its own review platform, so you’ll need to be aware that patients can leave reviews there. You will be responsible for managing and responding to those reviews. You will need to stay vague and ambiguous with your responses to ensure you do not violate any HIPAA laws and confirm a patient was seen at your practice.
Instagram is a social media platform that is primarily built for mobile users. It is newer than Facebook, so it tends to have younger users. Instagram is targeted toward visual content, allowing for short captions below each photo or video.
Instagram is less user friendly when it comes to marketing medical practices, but it does have nicely placed sponsored ads that can help increase your practice’s visibility to new patients. Another benefit of using Instagram is that it is owned by Facebook, which makes it easy to cross-post content to both platforms at one time.
To be honest, I dislike TikTok with every bone in my body. This is a new social platform that hit the market in 2018 and has been plagued with drama ever since. TikTok’s target audience is absolutely the generation and it is primarily used to post ‘reels’ – short, edited videos that are generally silly or triggering.
TikTok is not worth your time or energy when it comes to marketing your medical practice. They have also been under scrutiny for their lack of security measures. With little to no benefit from a medical practice marketing standpoint, and sketchy business practices, I have to recommend against using this platform.
LinkedIn is a social media platform built for career professionals to connect online. Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers a prominent home page for your business where you can add contact information and photos. It also allows you ‘connect’ your practice’s page to your providers and staff (if they also have LinkedIn accounts).
While LinkedIn is not necessarily a marketing tool to bring in new patients, having an established profile makes your medical practice more legitimate for online presence. LinkedIn is also a valuable resource to use for finding new staff members or providers. LinkedIn is worth the time to set up a basic profile for your practice.
Twitter has been the center of a lot of controversy lately. If you aren’t familiar with it already, Twitter is an established social media platform that places emphasis on short statements that must be under 280 characters. Photos and videos are allowed on twitter, but the focus is on the caption (the opposite of Instagram).
Twitter does not offer much value for medical practices unless you are running an online journal or other clinical publication that you want to quote frequently. Twitter is also less local and more national, meaning it is more difficult to target patients in your area. I do not recommend investing your time in twitter for marketing purposes.
What Types Of Content To Use On Social Media
Social media can be somewhat scary to use when it comes to marketing a medical practice. You want to be careful with what you post, as you wouldn’t want to violate any HIPPA laws or create controversy (which is shockingly easy to do on social media!).
So what can you post? Here are my top recommendations for posting content on your social media:
People love to look at photos! Photos give prospective and existing patients insight into what they can expect at your office. Make sure any photos you post are high-quality and do not reveal any patient names or faces in the background. These are our suggestions for ‘safe’ photos you can post to boost your online presence:
- staff member of the month
- a recent renovation
- new piece of equipment
- flowers blooming outside
- new staff member or provider
- a graphic for a holiday (like Happy Mother’s Day!)
Will you be closed for memorial day? Or did you recently extend your Friday hours? Any change in working hours is a great excuse to make a post on social media. Not only is this helpful information for patients, it also increases your visibility on social media platforms.
Celebrate Positive Staffing Changes
Adding a new staff member to the team is a great opportunity to create a positive post and introduce that person to your followers. Include some tidbits about the new staff member such as hobbies, education, and passions. You can also celebrate the retirement of staff members and providers, showing your patients how much you care about your team.
Construction And Weather
This is a surprisingly effective way to engage people on your social media. Construction can greatly affect a patient’s commute to the office. Take the time to talk about potential delays or detours that might cause a patient to run late to their appointment. On a similar note, you can talk about inclement weather and how that may impact travel.
How Social Media Boosts Your Online Presence
A whopping 3 out of 4 patients use online tools to search for medical providers. With this statistic, your practice truly cannot afford to not have an online presence. SEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing method that optimizes your website to be as visible as possible on search engines like Google.
Social media plays an essential role in any SEO campaign because it gives your practice a larger online presence. As tedious as it may feel to create different profiles online, the more profiles you have, the more likely Google is to push your listing to the top. Check out our comprehensive guide on SEO for medical practices for more information.
Social Media Marketing Strategies With A High Return On Investment
The benefits of using social media do not end with simply having a presence on these platforms. You can actually create a marketing campaign to bring in new patients using social media. Some of the best campaigns that I’ve help build revolve around these concepts:
Adding a new physician to your practice
- This is by far the best use of a social media marketing campaign. Use a sponsored post on Facebook or Instagram to talk about a new provider you are adding to your practice. Use a high resolution photo, but try to choose a casual photo on a hike or in the yard versus a professional headshot. Include information like the providers education and experience, and don’t forget to add in some personal tidbits like interests!
Shareable and interactive content
- Social media marketing for doctors and midlevel providers should be ‘sharable’, meaning others can post the information to their own pages or to group pages. This will help spread the word to the general community, and should prompt some early phone calls to get scheduled with the new provider.
Adding new services to your practice
- Similar to the campaign mentioned above, a sponsored post regarding new services you are adding to your practice can be a great tool for marketing. New services may prompt more interaction with patients on your post, such as people sharing the post or asking more questions about the service.
Tips for staying healthy
- If you don’t have much to talk about but want to encourage some social media interaction, you can always do a post on tips for staying healthy. This post will vary depending on your specialty, but this is a good chance to talk about hand-washing techniques, vaccinations, safe sun practices, etc. Always end your post with a call to action such as “call us today to schedule your flu vaccination!”
Build Your Social Media Strategy
Social media is here to stay, and it is necessary for medical practices to use it to keep up with competition. Using these social media tips is a safe and free way to get started on your own social media strategy.
With the right platforms and posts, you can successfully attract new patients to your practice and increase the financial performance of your organization. at little to no additional cost to your overall marketing strategy.