One of the biggest difficulties for a physician isn’t always the practice of medicine itself, it’s attracting new patients to your practice. In a hyper-connected world with a plethora of free social media platforms available, social media for doctors can prove to be an invaluable resource to attract new patients. While not every physician on Facebook will be the next “Dr. Pimple Popper,” and there are certainly concerns about privacy and liability, physicians can still take advantage of these largely free platforms to advertise their practice. The following 11 social media marketing ideas are sure to help you increase social media reach and attract new patients to your medical practice.
1. Create a Website
This should go without saying, but it does bear mentioning. The best social media marketing ideas mean nothing if potential patients don’t have a URL to visit to learn more about your practice and staff! Make sure your website uses search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your website will appear near the top of search engine results. A simple trick to SEO is to ask yourself, “What would I type while looking for a medical practice like mine?” Then use those phrases as keywords on your website.
2. Pick More than One Platform
In a hyper-connected world, relying on just one social media platform isn’t going to cut it! Your practice should be actively engaged not only on Facebook, but Twitter, Instagram, and even Google My Business. Each of these platforms has their own merits and different audiences; while you may not want to use all of them, just know that the more platforms you use, the more you increase your social media reach to promote your practice.
For example, Facebook averages about 2.23 billion monthly active users (MAUs), while Instagram hosts around 1 billion MAUs. While Google My Business isn’t considered a traditional social media platform, listing your business on Google helps boost your SEO, resulting in more potential patients finding your website more easily. Also, while Instagram may seem like a strange platform for a medical practice to promote their business, know that 80 percent of user accounts on Instagram follow at least one business. In other words, 800 million monthly active users are following businesses!
3. Post Consistently
Nothing will drive a potential patient away faster than having them visit your social media page and discover there are weeks or month-long gaps between any activity on the page. The less you post, the less likely your posts are to appear to potential patients.
The very concept of organic social media is that people, or patients, notice your posts, well, organically. The more frequent you post, the higher the chance a potential patient will see your posts and click to find more information about your practice. Assign a person on your staff to be in charge of your social media presence and schedule regular posts to be uploaded daily or weekly.
4. Social Media as an Office Tool
Don’t be afraid to implement social media platforms for simple administrative tasks such as posting office hours, website address, or the office phone number. At the very least, include the office phone number and type(s) of medical services and treatments a patient can find at your office. Social media marketing for medical professionals doesn’t require “marketing tricks” to be effective! Furthermore, any tips and/or tricks won’t make a difference if a patient goes to your social media page and is unable to find the basic information required to set up an appointment at the office. Make this information available and easy to find!
5. Boosted and Sponsored Posts
One of the greatest benefits of using social media platforms to advertise your business is that they’re FREE! That being said, typical social media marketing ideas don’t always stack up to the “pay-to-play” options available on social media platforms. Each platform has their own forms of paid adverts, and they all have their own nuances and merits.
Facebook, for example, has two different options. You can pay to “boost” your posts, which means you pay Facebook a fee to have your posts appear higher on news feeds. This ensures a higher probability that people will engage with your posts. Another option is to pay for sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are ads that appear on the news feed of readers (and note that they are “sponsored” or paid ads in the post).
While you may not want to pay for advertisement on free platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms are continually diminishing the amount of organic social media feeds available for its users. These paid options are available and designed to increase the amount of traffic your site receives, increasing the likelihood of attracting new patients.
6. Educate Your Community
Don’t be afraid to warn your community about illness outbreaks! Remind them to come in for their flu shots during flu season, or promote new research you’re passionate about. A physicians’ job, first and foremost, is to heal their patients. Sometimes the best way to do that is to inform their patients and communities about certain health risks and ways to maintain a healthier community.
More people receive their news from social media platforms than news outlets now. In fact, over 60 percent of U.S. adults say they now use social media as their main source to consume news, while almost 20 percent say they rely on social media for news “often.” This proactive health mentoring will, no doubt, show potential patients that you care for their health and the health of the community, and will entice them to keep you in mind next time they seek medical advice or treatment.
Social media is also a great platform to link information pertaining to new or alternative treatments patients might not otherwise find. As a physician, you have access to websites, forums, and medical discussions that patients may never discover without your help.
7. Encourage Reviews
You work hard for your patients, but that work doesn’t always get recognized, or translate into acquiring news patients, right? Well, now it can!
Studies show that 86 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses (jumping to 95 percent in the 18-34 age range). Further, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel they are able to trust a local business. Online reviews are today’s equivalent of yesterday’s word-of-mouth!
Online reviews are a simple, easy form of interactivity with your practice’s web presence, boosting your SEO and page views. Online reviews are the social media marketing for doctors – no number of social media marketing ideas or tips will help you if your practice doesn’t receive online reviews.
Be sure to include a reminder to your patients to fill out an online review in all your correspondences, whether at the bottom of emails, signs in your reception, or appointment reminders. These are an absolute must if you want to attract new patients to your practice.
8. Online Communities
Whether you join a Facebook Group, Twitter Chat, or a LinkedIn Group, online communities are a great way to expand your practice’s presence.
Use these groups as a chance to share your expertise with larger communities and interact with potential patients. The more active you are in these communities, the more likely they will be to share your practice’s content with their own followers, increasing the likelihood that potential patients will come across your practice’s website and social media content. Not only will this give potential patients greater access to your online presence- it will also provide an opportunity to develop partnerships with other physicians and practices that align with your field, yielding an even greater opportunity to increase your social media reach.
Find communities related to your field and be active. If you can’t find an online community related to your field or specialty, create one! This will establish you as an authority in your field and will inspire trust from potential patients looking for a new physician.
9. Posting Images
While there is plenty that goes on in a physician’s office that should never be shared on the web, the fact of the matter is that social media users interact with photos and images exponentially more so than any other kinds of posts.
Perhaps a good shot of a patient’s wound before and after sutures (while staying HIPAA compliant) may show potential patients your competency as a healer.
You can also post the occasional “Happy Birthday,” or “Happy Nurse’s Day,” photo celebrating your staff! This is a great way to remind your patients that you are, in fact, human, and you care about the people around you. After all, you got into medicine to help others in the first place!
Be careful here, though. You don’t want to get in the habit of sharing too many frivolous posts and photos. This is not your personal account. Your practice’s account should still remain professional and beneficial to the health of your practice.
10. Use Keywords in Your Posts
Much like the information given in number one on this list, optimize your search results on social media by using keywords and phrases in your posts. Use words that are more likely to get your site more “hits,” when a potential patient is performing a search via social media.
The search algorithms in social media platforms operate much like search engines. So, remember, when you’re not sure how to phrase certain words or sentences in your posts, ask yourself, “What would I type to find this information?”
11. Engage & Interact with Your Patients
This can be a bit tricky due to the patient’s personal privacy, but your social media site isn’t simply a microphone for you to shout advertisements for your practice.
“Like” and share relevant posts. Respond to patients when they thank you for your time or voice their concerns. Not all issues can be resolved in the public eye, but the direct messaging options in most social media platforms offer a quick and easy form of correspondence with concerned patients. Social media, after all, is meant to be just that- social!
Healthcare has always been a social enterprise. A physician can never really cure a patient without first communicating with them. So just consider using social media as an extension of these communication skills you’ve already developed by working with patients.
Be engaged, be informative, and have fun! The most important part of any healthcare practice is you, the doctor! The above social media marketing ideas and tips are just that- tips. They are not the end all be all to acquiring new patients for your practice, and the practice cannot exist in the first place without you, the doctor, running it.
So, in the end, the best piece of advice you could ever receive, concerning how to use your social media presence to attract new patients, is be yourself and let your work speak for itself.