I saw a study from 2017 that found that found that 41 percent of health care consumers use social media to decide on their health care providers. My guess is that a few years later that number has only grown. But social media + medical isn't always an intuitive pairing. We work with medical practices, healthcare SaaS companies, and medical-focused nonprofits all over the US and one thing is a constant - many in the industry just don't know where to start.
So here we are with 5 tips to get started maximizing Facebook for medical!
1. Create your account (and start networking)
First thing first - if you haven't done it already, you'll need to create your practice's social media account. That's straightforward enough, right?
But don't stop there. Before you get busy posting, get busy building your network. Taking some time here will pay dividends down the road. Find organizations specific to your medical niche and click that "Friend" button. So for example:
Follow the American Dental Association if you're a dental practice
Follow the American Medical Association if you're a medical practice
Orthopedic surgery practice? Follow The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Then, makes sure you're connected to governmental sites like the Centers for Disease Control, healthcare.gov, and more. Not only are government sites a great way to keep abreast of industry news (which, of course, is news you can then share with your own followers), government sites will often offer tools, guidelines, and best practices to help boost your social media efforts. Some of these sites can become a one-stop-shop for you as you're building your social media page, as they will recommend top pages to follow, give tips on how to write for social media, and share infographics that can be shared.
For example, here's the CDC social media toolkit.
2. Turn your patients (or the people you help) into brand ambassadors
Have you ever surfed over to Facebook to find more information about a medical practice you're considering? If you're like most people, if you're checking out medical practices on Facebook, you're looking to make sure the practice, it's doctors, staff, are legit.
And I mean legit in the true sense of the word, because a good Facebook page is legitimizing.
So how do you legitimize your practice on Facebook? You post about positive patient outcomes, fun stories about team members, and helpful information about what patients can expect if they visit your office. You turn your patients into brand ambassadors - because nothing is more legitimizing than real people posting about their real experiences.
Don't forget that when you share these posts, you should always tag your location and the patient so they can share it to their network. This amplifies your reach and lets others know about their interaction with your medical office. You know how it goes: your newest patient gets tagged in your post about their positive experience at your practice, and then that patient's third cousin (twice-removed!) sees it and hops over to Google to check out your reviews. Then they pop over to your Facebook page to see if they can get a visual feel for the atmosphere. And just like that, you have a new patient - all due to the social proof of your Facebook page.
Another way to turn your patients into brand ambassadors is to ask them to leave reviews on Facebook. Someone in your front office can be in charge of patient review outreach, or if you're using a PRM, there's a good chance it can handle review outreach for you automatically.
3. Get your office staff on board with a social media strategy
Don't get tripped up just because you need a social media strategy. A social strategy really isn't complicated - it's just a fancy way of saying that you'll need to come up with a few standards around your practice's social media - particularly, what and when you should be posting. Facebook is a phenomenal tool you can use to boost your reach and increase the number of people who will see your name and brand. What it's not? Rocket science. Use these tips and creating a social strategy for medical should be easy:
Pick a point person (think office manager or your millennial, social media-loving billing specialist) to be responsible for posting. Ideally, you'll choose someone who is active and engaged in their personal social media life or someone with experience doing social for another medical office.
Set your cadence for posting - and start small! If you're just kicking off your practice's social media game, setting a goal of posting 2-3 times a week should be sufficient to both get you into the habit of posting and your audience into the habit of looking for your posts. Once you've been at it for a while and have a solid process for turning your patients into brand ambassadors, you'll have more than enough organic content to post 5-6 times per week.
Get your team involved and sharing ideas for what the office can post or share. Everybody approaches social media from a different perspective, so put your heads together and see what you can come up with!
4. Focus on your content
Most practices find that the best way to organize their various content pieces is on a monthly social media calendar. Creating a social calendar doesn't have to be complicated - it's as easy as creating a new calendar (think Google or Outlook) and marking various dates of the week that you plan to post various types of content. That's the easy part. The content piece? Well, that can be a little more involved. Here are some ideas to build out your calendar and get you going:
– National “position-specific” celebration days. For example, National Medical Assistant Day (October 21) or National Physician Assistant Day (October 6). The good news here is that you don't have to seek out all of these healthcare-specific dates one-by-one - check out a full list here!
– Post about team or office celebrations like work anniversaries and promotions. Everybody loves to see staff who are around year after year - longevity is a great thing to promote on Facebook!
– Federal and other holidays like July 4, New Years, Christmas, Father’s Day. And don't forget about food holidays - especially if someone on the team brings in goodies. Photos are a must!
– Work in your community - does your staff volunteer or donate/sponsor community causes? Be sure to post about that - your community will love to see your team giving back to special causes.
5. Share, share, share!
Remember that network you built back in step #1? The time you spent following relevant, practice specific accounts? Well now you're set up to reap the rewards of that networking - it's time to get sharing! You followed those accounts because they have great content, infographics, and updates. So now it's time to make sure that your network sees that great content, too.
The idea in sharing the information put out there by other big accounts is to show your community that your office is paying attention to what is happening in your industry. It's all about creating trust between your audience and your practice.
And that's it!
Anything that can be accomplished in just 5 steps can't be too hard, right? If you've been hesitant about firing up Facebook for your medical practice, I hope this gives you the gentle nudge you need. It's a wonderful platform for spreading your brand awareness, and all that's needed is a little strategizing, some good content ideas, and the ability to click that "Post" button.