When you hear the word “brand,” you probably think of big-name product manufacturers—the Apples, Nikes, and Coca-Colas of the world. But if you offer products or services to consumers in a professional capacity, then you already have a brand—whether you’re aware of it or not. Because when you strip away all of the fancy-schmancy logos and taglines, your “brand” is really just the way your audience feels about you and your business. While resource-strapped small business owners might not be able to launch large-scale branding efforts à la the almighty iPhone-maker, they can leverage the power of professional-oriented social media platforms—namely, LinkedIn—to build brands around themselves and their companies. In fact, the so-called “professional social media network” is the perfect place for private practice physical therapy providers to leverage the power of branding to increase their visibility in the healthcare space. Here’s how:
1. Optimize your personal profile.
As a therapist, you’re not just selling a product—you’re selling yourself. Rehab therapy is a human-centered profession, and that means the person providing it (you!) matters a lot—to prospective patients, employers, and employees alike. For that reason, it’s crucial that you construct your LinkedIn profile in a way that
- paints a complete, accurate picture of who you are as a therapy professional, and
- makes it easy for people to find you.
As this HubSpot blog post suggests, “Consider the ideal person your profile would speak to, consider your buyer personas, and—if your profile were side by side with another—which words would make you stand out.” Then, incorporate those words in the various written sections of your profile (e.g., headline, summary, job titles and descriptions, and skills).
LinkedIn also allows for peer-generated endorsements and recommendations, both of which are really valuable to you as a professional. After all, studies show that Internet users are much, much more likely to trust reviews and recommendations than ads. Plus, these areas of your profile can boost your performance in searches related to the skills for which you’ve received recommendations. So whether you’re in the market for a new job, looking to hire a new employee, or wanting to communicate your value as a therapist, getting thoughtful, genuine recommendations on LinkedIn is definitely worthwhile. (As a side note, one great way to get recommendations—aside from flat-out asking for them—is to write them for other people, who will then feel inclined to return the favor.)
2. Build a biz page.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to create business pages, which other LinkedIn users can then follow. If you’re a practice owner, you absolutely should have a company page on LinkedIn. On your page, you can post a description of your practice, provide contact information, upload a logo and a cover image, list all of your specialties, and provide a link to your website. As this Small Business Trends article explains, you should take the time make your business page as complete as possible: “The more attention you pay to detail, the better and more powerful your company page will be.” Here are a few more things to keep in mind when it comes to company pages on LinkedIn:
- As mentioned in the above-cited article, Google indexes company pages on LinkedIn, so this is one more opportunity for you to capture your audience’s search traffic. To boost your search visibility, try to work your keywords into your business description.
- When people view your company page, they’ll also see a list of possible “connections” to your business—most of whom are your colleagues or employees. This adds a human element to your business, so you should encourage everyone in your practice to create their own profiles. (More on that in a minute!)
- Again, as with Facebook, you can use your company page to share updates with your LinkedIn followers. Such updates might include reminders about events or promotions, links to articles or blog posts you or your employees have written, or job openings.
3. Get your crew “LinkedIn,” too.
If your LinkedIn business page is your practice’s book jacket, your employees are the actual story—the thing that truly resonates with your audience. And if there’s anything we can learn from that whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing, it’s that the sum of many small networks forms something much more significant. In the world of LinkedIn, that means the more small networks you have representing your brand, the greater your reach and visibility. So, encourage all of your employees—from your clinic manager to your front desk team—to stay active on LinkedIn, sharing your company updates and connecting and interacting with other professionals in the therapy space.
4. Connect, connect, connect!
In addition to keeping your practice’s company page active—and thus, constantly visible on your followers’ feeds—you also should stay active with your personal profile. After all, as the Small Business Trends article mentions, “Personal profiles make up the backbone of LinkedIn, with over 277 million users throughout the world.” How can you put all of that networking potential to use? Well, start by building a network of people you already know. Use LinkedIn’s search feature to find colleagues and professional acquaintances—both past and present—or take a few minutes to peruse the “People You May Know” section of your account (which you will find in the top-right corner of your main page). Once you start engaging with your current connections, you’ll become visible to people in their networks. You might even end up having conversations with some of those people in the form of back-and-forth LinkedIn commentary. This is a perfect example of an opportunity for you to reach out and connect with someone new.
Pro tip: When you send an invitation to connect, take the time to craft a personalized message reminding the person of how you “know” him or her—even if you’ve only interacted online.
5. Show what you know.
Creating a name for yourself in the rehab therapy space means establishing yourself as an expert—and LinkedIn provides you with a wealth of tools to do just that. Of course, producing and sharing your own content—things like blog posts or contributed articles—is the ideal way to build a reputation as an industry thought leader, but if you’re not quite ready for that, then at least take the time to share pertinent content authored by other therapy professionals. If you can craft a few sentences to add your own thoughts or analysis before you share, all the better. Want to start a conversation about a particular item? Pose a question within your post. Conversely, when you see others in your network sharing this type of content, don’t hesitate to jump in and give your two cents. Just be sure to express your ideas as thoughtfully and professionally as you can.
6. Become a groupie.
One of LinkedIn’s most useful networking tools is its vast array of groups. According to this LinkedIn article, more than 8,000 new groups are created every day (although the average user belongs to just seven). When you join a group and participate in the discussions unfolding on that group’s page, you gain instant visibility among an audience of professionals who share something in common with you—be it your industry, your job role, or even your geographic location. In addition to serving as forums for sharing and gleaning valuable insights—as well as making quality business connections—LinkedIn groups provide great platforms for advertising job openings at your clinic.
Are you an active LinkedIn user? How has it benefited you or your practice? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.