I’ll admit it: during the first five years of my career, I was extremely opposed to using social media. I felt uncomfortable when patients asked to friend me on Facebook, and I got nervous about employers checking in on my personal life.

Along the way, though, I was forced to change my tune. When I launched my non-clinical physical therapy career as a copywriter and entrepreneur, I had to learn the art of self-promotion. As PTs, we’re often disinclined to promote ourselves, but social media provides excellent opportunities to connect with others and build our brands as clinicians, employers, and entrepreneurs. It can even help us reinvent ourselves to pursue non-traditional physical therapy careers.

Plus, let’s face it: social media is here to stay, and it’s best that we embrace it and the opportunities it provides. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your smartphone all day, every day. In fact, even with a minimal time investment, you can leverage social media to successfully grow your practice and your career.

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With that, here’s the bare-bones social media guide for PTs:

Facebook

What It Is

Facebook is a social networking site that allows people to comment, share, and like each others’ posts, photos, videos, and articles. It also offers advertisements and sponsored posts, and it has a feature for creating company pages and groups (which can be linked to company pages).

How to Leverage It

If you write content or create videos, you can post them to your Facebook page, and you can also share them into your Facebook groups. You can also create your own business page, link a group to it, and share your content with that group. If you’re looking to hire employees, you can post job listings on Facebook, and if you’d like to get your content or business seen by a wider audience, you can create ads. You can even use Facebook to gather patient feedback for your business.

LinkedIn

What It Is

LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows people to connect, publish content, like and share each others’ posts, and follow companies of interest. You can follow individuals and companies, and you can tag them in your posts and message them directly.

How to Leverage It

LinkedIn is an exceptional tool for all things career-related. While physical therapists seem to spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, LinkedIn is still an excellent starting point for anyone actively looking for a job, as well as anyone considering a non-clinical career. For example, you can follow medical device companies and directly interface with hiring managers at said companies. LinkedIn is also the easiest place to score an informational interview. And if you’re a clinic or a recruiter, LinkedIn is a great place to attract career-minded talent to your organization.

LinkedIn is also great for building your brand. You can publish articles on the platform and use it to establish yourself as a thought leader within your niche.

Instagram

What It Is

Instagram is a visual-based social sharing network. Facebook recently purchased Instagram, which means there’s a solid integration between the two platforms. Instagram still operates as a standalone app, though. It allows users to post photos and videos, and you can follow and tag other users using their handles (which look like this: @personorclinicname) as well as follow and use hashtags (which look like this: #anythingyouwanttosay). You can also message other users directly.

How to Leverage It  

Instagram is great for showcasing your fun, artsy side. If you run a clinic, you can use Instagram to highlight your excellent company culture. For example, you can take a picture of the team having a birthday party and use the hashtag “#birthday.” Then, anyone who clicks that hashtag (on the caption of any public photo) will see all pictures (including yours) that contain the hashtag “#birthday.” Patients can also follow your Instagram feed for general health and wellness tips, or to simply stay in touch with your fun team!

Instagram is awesome when it comes to building your brand, too. Try to come up with a few good hashtags that reflect what you want to be known for—as either a clinician or a clinic. For example, a sports PT can use something like “#PTDailySportsTip” to attract potential patients, and new grads can follow “#FreshPT” or use it in their own posts. If you want to show your sense of humor, consider using “#MondayPunday” to post funny images about health care.

Twitter

What It Is

Twitter is a social media platform designed for quick communications. With a 280-character limit, messages need to be short and to-the-point. Twitter is great for sharing pictures, videos, and links to articles, and you can “ping” others whose attention you’d like to get by tagging them in a post. Like Instagram, Twitter uses both hashtags and handles. You can also retweet others’ posts to give them more visibility.

How to Leverage It  

Get the attention of others you admire by tagging them in your Twitter posts. Want to give a shoutout to another clinic owner or therapist you think would benefit from reading your article? Include his or her handle in your post. Twitter is not really the place to market yourself to patients, but it’s definitely a hotspot to connect with other movers and shakers in the industry.

 

Of course, these popular platforms are just the tip of the social media iceberg, but if you’re a busy therapist or clinic owner who doesn’t want to put a ton of time and resources into your social media marketing efforts, they are a great place to focus.


Meredith Castin, PT, DPT, is the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, a career development resource designed to help physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals leverage their degrees in non-clinical ways. Meredith is also the co-founder of NewGradPhysicalTherapy and works as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of publications.

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