The biggest mistake you can make on social media is to not be on the platforms your patients are on. As a medical practice, you probably have a lot of moving parts to your marketing strategy. As more and more practices invest time and money into social media, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re on the right platforms and that you are reaching your ideal audience in a meaningful way.
According to the State of Inbound 2017 Report, 55% of marketers say that their top priority over the next 12 months is to increase the traffic to their website. 61% of marketers say their top inbound marketing priority is growing their SEO/organic presence. Can you guess what we are going to tell you next?
A strong social media presence is one of, if not the best way to increase website traffic and strengthen your SEO efforts. The key is to understand where your patients are, how they are using each platform, and to create content that is relatable, relevant, and authentic.
How to Meet Your Patients Where They AreWhat is the quickest and most efficient way to find out which social media platforms your patients use? Ask them directly! While this may seem a little scary, we promise it isn’t as bad as it seems.
You likely have a core set of patients that are loyal, engaged, and informed. Send them a quick email asking if you can send over a brief survey or hop on a short phone call with them. Take this opportunity to ask them where they spend their time online, which social networking sites are their favorite, and where they would go to find out more information about your services. Finding out how they like to receive information is a great way for you to understand which platforms make the most sense for your practice.
Feel like digging a bit deeper? Ask them what kind of content they would expect or like to see from you on the various platforms. Maybe they are looking for infographics, videos, or free downloads.
Once you have a clear understanding of which platforms are most relevant to your ideal audience, research the ones that seem to fit best with their needs and your practice’s goals. It is not realistic to be on all social media platforms; the key to success is to pick only a few to focus on that will best suit your needs and effectively serve your patients.
Which Social Networks are Best for Your Practice?
Facebook:If you have a lot of great links, videos, photos, and infographics to share, Facebook may be a great platform for you. It allows you to post a variety of content and to target specific audiences. If you want to break down your audience demographics and have a variety of ad and campaign options, this platform will serve you well. (It is also a platform where you will have to invest a bit more money.) The State of Inbound 2017 survey found that 74% of all respondents use Facebook for professional purposes.
Instagram:Do you have a ton of before and after pictures, behinds the scenes info, and professional photos of your facility? Instagram is a highly visual platform and relies on quality photos and authentic, more personal captions. If you want to connect with your patients in a meaningful way, Instagram may be a good fit. You can also cross post your Instagram content onto Facebook.
LinkedIn:Is your primary target demographic business professionals? LinkedIn is a social networking platform where professionals research organizations, connect with other professionals, and look for high-quality articles. While this platform is more popular in the business world, it is worth looking into if you would like to share more scientific articles and if your audience spends a lot of time there. Articles and infographics do best on LinkedIn, whereas more personal or casual posts are not as appropriate. The State of Inbound 2017 survey found that 78% of all respondents use LinkedIn for professional purposes.
Pinterest:Pinterest is a great platform for those who plan to blog frequently and have highly visual content. Before and after pictures, tutorials, and graphics all do well on Pinterest. The hope is that people will search for content similar to yours, find your posts, and then click through to your website. This site is not as tailored to creating conversations and patient interactions.
YouTube:Does your audience love video content? If so, YouTube is a fantastic way to position your practice on the leading edge of the medical industry. You can host Q&A sessions, provide facility tours, introduce your team, and even showcase certain procedures. According to the State of Inbound 2017 survey, 48% of marketers plan to add Youtube to their content distribution strategy in the next year. Again, this isn’t really a platform for patient conversations, but it is an excellent platform for generating content.
Once you’ve spent some time on each platform and have a good understanding of your audience’s behavior, it’s time to refine and tailor your plan. More specifically, it’s time to dig into advertising. We have a few more in-depth blog posts about advertising on social media, but the key is to understand each platform’s unique approach to advertising, do some A&B testing, and make sure you’re targeting the right people.
Refine & Tailor Your Advertising Tactics
As you dig into your advertising efforts, we suggest starting small while you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. As always, set specific goals that you can track. Facebook seems to be the frontrunner when it comes to social media advertising. Here are a few specific tips on how to create successful Facebook ads for your plastic surgery practice. In the near future, we will be digging deeper into Instagram and LinkedIn advertising. Be on the lookout for upcoming blog posts!
With 70% of marketers reporting to the State of Inbound 2017 that their top priority over the next 12 months is converting their contacts/leads into customers, it’s no wonder social media advertising is getting so much attention!
Now that we’ve told you how to determine where your patients are hanging out online, the key is to create content that will engage them. As a consumer, ask yourself what kind of content is most engaging to you on social media. Most likely it isn’t the content that focuses on selling, selling, selling. Push yourself to consider what kind of value you can give away (FOR FREE) to your patients that will have them coming back for more.
Use Social Media Authentically & Build Real Connections
When it comes to social media, the hope is that you will create a presence that is so helpful, encouraging, entertaining, or valuable, that your audience wants to check in every day. Your content on social media doesn’t have a super long shelf life, so it is important to constantly refine and adjust it to meet your patient’s ever-changing needs and interests.
One of the best ways we have seen practices build real connections with their current and potential patients is to post a variety of content, ask specific questions, and provide follow-up information. By taking the time to understand the type of content your patients want, you will be able to speak their language and easily provide helpful content on a regular basis. Depending on which social media platforms you are on, there may be room to show the personality behind your brand, share personal stories, and even share a few tips and tricks.
To build real connections, you have to be more than a professional organization. You need to be a little vulnerable, show that you care, and deliver on your promises. If your patients are taking the time to comment or share your posts, you want to make sure you are showing that you appreciate their attention and engagement by responding thoughtfully.
Think about how you are leading your potential patients through the sales process and how you are influencing their day to day lives. Use your opportunity for interaction wisely and make sure you reward your followers for their time. Occasional giveaways, freebies, and high-quality tips will go a long way.
Determining which social networks to pursue and how to reach your patients can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Focus on finding where your patients are, identifying which kind of content they resonate with best, and make a plan for pursuing your goals and delivering value on a consistent basis. If you’re struggling to know where to begin, we are happy to help you get started!