Planning Your Social Media Strategy
If you’re looking to generate new patients for your practice and are considering ways to get the word out, you may want to consider social media, specifically Facebook! It’s a surprising fact to most medical providers that done well, Facebook can become an indispensable marketing asset for large and small healthcare organizations alike.
However, using it effectively can be the difference between success and failure. This channel has the potential to be a strong medical practice referral resource for both engaging new patient prospects as well as staying connected to current patients, but assuring you have informed professionals planning and managing the channel in terms of compliance and subject matter is paramount.
Before beginning any kind of social media marketing, specifically Facebook medical marketing, it’s best to have a plan of action. Here are a few important steps to take before creating your strategy:
- Create SMART goals. By planning and documenting your goals, you’ll be able to determine if this effort is worthwhile and cost-effective. Knowing where you want to end up, helps in taking the steps to get you there. For instance, if you want to build brand awareness outside of your local area, you can target your posts to the surrounding towns where your practice is located. If your goal is to generate phone or form inquiries from new patients, you’ll want to create a call-to-action and landing page that prompts visitors to request an appointment.
- Develop Patient Profiles to guide your content strategy. Pinpoint and segment what kinds of patients you’d like to attract. Some of our practices target patients with a specific condition or treatment they specialize in, while others focus on demographics like gender, lifestyle, age or location.
- Establish the tone, message and frequency of your posts. Set very specific standards for the people in charge of your social publishing. Nothing is more important than your professional reputation, and social publishing can be tricky. We recommended never letting a “newbie” manage your social profile and be sure to insist on a review of all posts before they’re published in your practice name. For a medical practice, keep the tone non-promotional. Complete your due diligence before hitting “publish”!
Leverage Patient Testimonials & Success Stories
Establishing professional credibility is the first step to acquiring new patients. You need to prove that your practice is reputable and trustworthy to set your providers apart from the crowd of practitioners in the market.
Create a competitive edge for your practice and guide new patients to select your organization is by sharing the positive experiences of past patients. Sharing social proof is a powerful ingredient for fostering trust among new patients and helps others in their decision to schedule an appointment. Patient testimonials, reviews and success stories all serve as social proof. It’s vital to harvest this strategy for any growing business, especially if referrals are common.
Note: Before sharing any patient information onto your social media channels, be cautious you are not violating any patient privacy, HIPPA, and confidentiality laws.
Here’s an example of a patient testimonial you might use in your Facebook marketing:
Notice that the hashtags are relevant to medical practices, as well as location. Adding relevant hashtags increases your exposure to new patients looking for medical professionals in their area. Creating your own branded hashtag can also help set your brand apart from the competition; for example, include Dr + last name + specialty to create a branded hashtag: #DrBowesOBGYN. Before creating a branded hashtag, ensure it is not already being used by doing a quick Facebook search.
Patient testimonials are highly versatile and can be used on other social channels and marketing materials, as well. There a number of ways to collect testimonials, such as surveys in the office that include a checkmark at the end that grants permission to “share” their review, designating with or without a name. Another way is to email patients the day after their appointment when their experience is still fresh in their mind. This can be set up via an automated email workflow that automatically gets sent out within a chosen time frame. Whether collecting testimonials in person or digitally, they are a great way to highlight your strengths and also gain insight on how to improve your organization.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Using social proof in your Facebook marketing strategy establishes trust with new patients and will help your practice stand out from other organizations in the area.
Become the Go-To Resource
Today, patients want to take an active role in their health and knowledge is the key. They’re hungry for information on conditions, treatment options, diagnosing symptoms, prevention tips and more. If they see that you’re providing helpful information that is relevant to their interests or concerns, they may choose to follow you. Try to focus on topics that you think your patients will find helpful, rather than on what you want to promote.
By providing patient education around your specialty, you can position yourself as an expert and build credibility for your practice. When you create this kind of content, for instance in a blog on your website, you should promote it on your social channels to a targeted audience that fits your patient profile.
Along with patient education, it’s ok to publish social posts about your practice services and related news. Avoid being promotional or using superlatives which that can turn visitors off. A good rule of thumb for sharing informational vs. educational content is the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80% of the content posted on social media should be educational and helpful while 20% can be informative and directly related to your practice. The informative posts highlight treatments offered, practice updates, seasonal treatments, etc. while the educational is evergreen, helpful content usually about conditions and treatments.
Educational content examples for medical practices:
- Prevention posts, i.e. “Take These X Actions to Prevent the Flu This Season”
- Answers to common patient questions, i.e. “Is There a Genetic Factor to Strokes?”
- Timely posts related to health observances, i.e. “X Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer”
- Quick health or nutrition tips, i.e. “Eat These X Nutritional Foods to Lower Your Risk of Cancer”
- Inspirational photos or memes, “Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For”
- Questions from professionals; “Dr. Doe Answers Your Most Common Questions Regarding Men’s Health”
- Timely posts that remind patients of essential vaccinations, i.e. “The Shingles Vaccine is Now Available”
- Conditions and Treatments
Informational content examples for medical practices:
- New patient treatments or services offered
- Special events. i.e.; a donation drive
- Practice-related news, such as a practice recognition or awards
- Patient success stories
- Positive patient reviews
- Medical staff additions or changes
- Photos of your staff or office that showcase your practice’s positive culture
KEY TAKEAWAY: Focus on your audience and give them a reason to follow you by providing value that they can’t get elsewhere.
Use Facebook Advertising to Reach New Patient Prospects
Facebook advertising offers the most advanced options among social media channels when it comes to targeting a specific audience by demographic, interest and location. Depending on your goals, a well-defined Facebook advertising strategy can help you achieve great success by reaching only those patient prospects you want to attract.
When creating an ad, you must first choose your objective:
- Awareness: A practice in a new market can create a campaign to generate brand awareness and interest.
- Consideration: Target patients who have already interacted with your Facebook page or visited your website. You should promote a service offering that’s specific to them.
- Conversions: Create a strategy around a new or timely treatment offering or appointment request.
Here are a few considerations for targeting your ideal patient:
- Location: This can be based on a region or a city. If you’re in a medical group with multiple locations, you can choose to target multiple service areas; or, a single location can be chosen. Facebook allows you to target:
- everyone in a location
- people who live in this location (recommended)
- people recently in this location
- people traveling to this location
- Demographics: Think about your current patient profiles and target their demographics. For example, if you’re an OBGYN or Urologist, you can target the relevant gender, so you don’t waste precious ad dollars. Also, think about the age of the demographic you’re trying to reach and tailor your targeting based on this.
- Detailed Targeting: You can target users based on how audiences interact on Facebook, the content they share, etc. For example, you can target Facebook users who have liked The American Cancer Society if you are an oncologist
Here is an example of a medical marketing Facebook ad that could be targeted to patient prospects.
Knowing that a doctor is top-rated by others may compel a new patient to take action. Listing the source of the accolade and the definitive data point is important for credibility. People are skeptical online so ensure your ad is fact-based. Please note: it’s important to use minimal text in the image of your Facebook ad. Include additional information in the content area of the ad.
These are real results from a Facebook ad we ran for a client practice – with the goal of generating awareness by new prospective patients fitting a specific profile in a geo-targeted area. By optimizing the targeting using patient profiles, creating a relevant image and messaging that showcased this provider’s strengths, this practice received 84 visits to their “Schedule an Appointment” landing page, costing about one dollar per lead. This particular landing page has a conversion rate of 14%. Therefore, we can determine that of these 84 visits, 11 people made first-time appointments. Clearly, this campaign gave the client a nice return-on- investment. To ensure current patients were not targeted, the option to exclude existing Facebook connections was enabled.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Create your Facebook advertising strategy around a clear objective that has targeting around your patient profiles. Measure your results. Test ads to see which convert the best.
4. Foster Positive Relationships with Your Patients
Building positive relationships is at the heart of all social media. Once patients are engaging with your practice, it’s time to wow with them with your patient service. It’s important to respond to reviews (both positive and negative), comments and questions in a timely manner.
When responding, you can keep the tone conversational. Address your audience by their name and always thank them for reaching out.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Make the process of searching for information and scheduling an appointment as easy as possible by responding to inquiries in a timely manner.
Medical Marketing: What NOT To Do
There are special guidelines to consider when using social media marketing for your medical practice. Always understand and follow Hipaa compliance regulations. Here are a few tips on what NOT to share through social media:
Do not publish personal health information. Unless you gain written consent from the patient, do not publish the identity of the patient or their health information. Before sharing that office snap, Tweet, or post, be sure it is free of any private patient or practice information.
Do not create organic (or paid) Facebook posts that inquire about a person’s physical health status or condition. We recommend writing engaging content that speaks to users but avoids asking any medical-based questions, even it’s general. Facebook’s policies do not allow this. If your medical practice becomes a repeat offender, your Facebook page may be suspended.
Do not simply link to your ‘Contact Us’ or Home page. Users may not be ready to schedule an appointment right away. Provide them with additional information about your practice, medical staff and specialties. It’s important to nurture prospective patients until they have made their decision.
Do not post political or personal posts on your practice page
Do not give specific medical advice in your posts. If linking educational articles back to your website, be sure to have a medical disclaimer.
The Key Takeaway to Medical Marketing on Facebook
Strategic social media marketing is essential to growing your practice, with Facebook being one of the most impactful channels available. Adding Facebook to your social media strategy will not only help increase new patient acquisition, but it will also help foster the relationships you have with current patients.
This may sound like a lot to manage. If you need a dedicated team to take your medical practice marketing to the next level, we can help. At Lasso Up, we specialize in medical marketing and have built our reputation on delivering strategic marketing solutions that generate powerful results.