When it comes to social media marketing (SMM) for physical therapy practices, many wonder if it is worth the time and effort.   When asked, how much business they have received from their social media efforts, the typical answer is, “I am not sure.”  Some go as far as saying that they don’t get any patients from it at all.

One thing that is attractive about Internet marketing is the easy-to-access data from which you can make decisions.  While the data sets might be relatively small for a PT practice with just 2-3 locations, you can gather enough information to make the decision as to whether your SMM efforts are a good return on your investment/time.

If you have say 500+ fans of your physical therapy practice’s Facebook Page, the data we gather from our clients suggests you probably do get some business out of it.  While you may not be able to state the precise number of patients your SMM has generated, you can look at other indicators for clues and have some idea if you should continue, increase, or decrease the resources you dedicate to SMM.

Work Backwards to See the Big Picture

When it comes to generating repeat patients from social media marketing, the Facebook sales cycle (steps the practice follows to guide prospective patients from initial contact to getting them in the door for initial eval.) is pretty straight forward.   It looks something like this:

  • Current patients are encouraged to “Like” your Facebook Page.
  • Current patients are discharged.

Then assuming some of your discharged patients have problems you can treat, here’s how Facebook can get them back to your practice.

  • Former patients  see your wall posts on their Newsfeeds.
  • Former patients  go to your website or Facebook Page (depending upon the link they click) to read more about solutions for their problems.
  • Former patients call your office and schedule becoming a new patient again.

In order to measure your key performance indicator (KPI) of new patients that come from your SMM efforts, you need to access some basic marketing information:

  • You need to know how many unique visitors your practice website gets each month (traffic).
  • You need to know how many of those visitors are converted to patients.
  • You need to know how many website visitors you generate from Facebook.

Now, let’s use an example to illustrate these concepts.  Let’s say you get 600 visitors per quarter that visit your website (this is pretty common).  Let’s also assume that 24 of your new patients are influenced by the search engines or your website when choosing to come to your clinic (also, pretty typical).  That equates to 4 percent of the visitors to your website converting to patients.

Now let’s say you launch a SMM campaign on Facebook.  You build up your fans and you have several hundred people that Like your Facebook Page.   You check your web statistics and see that over the last quarter you received 200 visits to your website from your Facebook Page.  Now simply multiply by the 4 percent conversion factor.  The result of your simple calculation is that 8 patients were likely to have come back to your practice because of your SMM efforts.

Accurate but Not Precise

When it comes to marketing, if a campaign does not generate new referrals, it doesn’t make any sense.  Furthermore, SMM can be a time sink and the last thing most PT practice owners have is extra time.  However, if you do measure website traffic, and have calculated a simple key performance indicator (i.e. what percentage of web traffic converts to new patients), you can calculate an accurate, not precise, but accurate number of patients your social media marketing efforts are generating.  From there, you can decide if it is a good return on investment.

David Straight, PT, DPT, OCS is the president of E-rehab.com -  His company provides Physical Therapy Websites, Video email newsletters, Search, and Social Media for physical therapy private practices.  His company does not work with POPTS.  He can be reached at by phone at 800-468-5161 or
dave@e-rehab.com .

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