Marketing Your Practice: How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Clinic
When you imagine which businesses need to be on social media, you probably think of brands like fashion and tech, or maybe local shops and restaurants. But healthcare? It’s more important than you might think. Creating a social media presence for your clinic may seem intimidating, but the benefits of building social media marketing into your efforts could help you reach an entirely new audience of your ideal patients.
Here are five ways to use social media for your practice:
1. Share helpful information
While healthcare professionals need to be careful regarding how they connect with and talk to patients on social media, one good way to build a good reputation within your community is by sharing helpful, accurate, and verified information regarding general health best practices, preventative healthcare, general procedure follow-up and aftercare instructions, and more. By demonstrating that you and your practice are knowledgeable patient advocates, people who connect with you on social media will be more likely to trust you, and as a result, recommend you to their networks.
In a 2012 survey of social media users, 41% who used social media platforms to learn more about health said that they used reviews and recommendations to choose which practices, hospitals, and other care facilities to use. This percentage is particularly significant when you consider that 81% of the US population actively used any social media platform in 2017, compared to 56% in 2012. How people perceive your practice’s online image can mean increasing your referrals - and the consequence of not participating is missing out on new patients.
2. Grow your professional network
Everyone knows that LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform out there today, but social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are also great places to expand your connections with other healthcare professionals. Practically any social media platform - from the giants to specialization-specific forums - can be used to expand your network and stay up-to-date on the latest news and research, which can not only help you grow your knowledge base, but also allow you tap into referrals for patients who are moving, treatments other HCPs don’t offer, and more.
3. Reach more people with paid ads
Once upon a time, social media marketing was an easy-to-use, free channel for businesses getting started with building their online presence. Today, that’s no longer the case, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other paid distribution platforms, business owners are able to put their name and message in front of more and better prospects than they were when social messages could only reach people organically.
For example, you could use audience targeting to advertise a specific treatment capability, like spinal decompression therapy. If most of your SDT patients are over the age of 40, you can send out an ad that resonates with that age group to people in your area. That way, you’re only talking to the people who may need your help, and who are near enough for your clinic to consider it as an option for treatment. Or, if you treat a large number of sports-related injuries, you could target an ad towards people who are interested in sports. Paid advertising tools have become extremely sophisticated, and they’re being improved upon all the time. Take advantage of them as part of your social media marketing strategy.
4. Make your clinic more accessible
Where do you go to find a new restaurant to try? How about a store’s hours, or the phone number of your mechanic? If you’re like most people, the answer is the internet, and more specifically, Google. While other things, like your website and local listings, can help you build your online presence and make your practice easier to find online, social media is a fast way to make your clinic more accessible to patients who seek your information online.
Platforms like Facebook allow you to publish all kinds of business information, from address to phone number to members of the staff. You can choose to display as much or as little as you want, but you should at least have basic contact information so that visitors can find you. You can also use various social media platforms to answer questions about your business, like hours and directions. Making your practice more accessible not only benefits people trying to find your information, but also lends to your overall credibility in the digital space.
5. Leverage reviews
While healthcare practices aren’t exactly the same as a business like a retail store or restaurant, all businesses that provide goods or services have come to be defined in part by their reviews. Several consumer studies over the years have shown the importance of reviews over peoples’ decisions to choose one business over another, uncovering statistics that show exactly how much people care what about previous experiences. In two such studies, 91% of surveyed consumers reported reading online reviews, 84% said that they trusted reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 60% said that negative reviews convinced them not to use a business.
If you have patients who always compliment you on how easy you are to work with, or how happy they are with their care, consider encouraging them to leave a review. A few positive words could have a huge impact on how people perceive your practice online.
Social media is no longer just for personal use, and it can be a powerful avenue for marketing your practice. Start by choosing just one platform and building out your business presence. Over time, you should see people engaging with your clinic online, and as a result, coming to you offline, as well.
Our "Marketing Your Practice" blog series will discuss some practical tips that healthcare professionals can use to grow their businesses. Subscribe to the blog to get these articles to your inbox.