Social Media has revolutionized the ability for people to connect with one another. While great for connecting with friends and family, it can also be a huge asset to your business. Contrary to what you may think, social media is not just for posting random thoughts or crazy videos.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are avenues for marketing, clinic name recognition, and networking. It is the new generation of communication that can’t be ignored. If you are hesitant and don’t know where or how to get started, here is some food for thought:
5 Things to Think About Before Using Social Media for Marketing
1) Don’t believe the hype; at least not ALL of it
It’s important to assess the social landscape and see what is going to work for you. Healthcare and specifically Physical Therapy has never been a competitive market in advertising. So, it is not important to blast on to the scene with as many forms of social media as possible. It’s more important to be organized and calculated about time, strategy, and staffing. Social media can be time consuming, so choose wisely. If you aren’t keen on jumping on all the bandwagons, simply choose one and focus on it. Creating a profile and then never updating it is worse than not being there at all. If you are already familiar with Facebook for personal communication, start with it for your business marketing as well. If the almighty Twitter speaks to you, check out this presentation by Dale Boren Jr. and Casey Kirkes on how to use it for professional advancement.
2) Is a ‘Daily Deal’ right for my clinic?
A tactic commonly used in social media is the “daily deal”, meaning an offer is placed to entice customers to visit your clinic. Some clinics stage ‘daily deals’ for their cash based services such as: massage, sports specific training or provide a give-away such as a Tshirt or water bottle on 1st visit. In our clinic, we promoted our “perfect attendance” patient contest with a clinic Tshirt prize. Participating in a special deal can be great for your business, but you have to consider a few key components:
- Be prepared! Remember that the deal posted goes out to potentially everyone out there accessing that social media outlet. Only offer deals that you can back up.
- Clinics mainly rely on referrals from doctors and from existing patients. Social media marketing is new territory for healthcare. With more clinics offering cash-based services, it makes sense. However, many people who take advantage of your deal will get exposure to your clinic for the first time, be ready to put your best foot forward.
- If you are thinking of using a site such as Groupon or Living Social, understand that they will make you cut at least 50% off of your offering. A 50% loss may not be worth it to reach a few deal hunters who may or may not appreciate your business. If you do get record sales, make sure you have the staff to accommodate your offer.
- If you negotiate a great deal, you can make a profit, but you may find yourself rich with customers and poor on cash.
Building a loyal following on the social realm and offering your own deals through your Facebook or Twitter page might make more sense and provide a greater ROI.
3) Share, don’t sell
Where are your loyal followers going to come from? They are going to come from conversations. Literally, that’s it. Social media is a conversation not an ad platform. People don’t want you to speak in advertisements such as. ‘Come to ____ Physical Therapy to fix your back pain’. Chances are, if they are getting your messages, you’ve already fixed their back pain. Establishing a conversation or providing up to date new information can lead to a following that looks to your clinic as a knowledge base. If they are interactive followers, they are more likely to recommend your services to others.
- relevant content (news and articles),
- relatable content (photos and videos) and
- real interactions.
Talk to your followers and share with them photos of your staff and patients. People are more likely to look at photos of the 5K marathon you sponsored vs. an invite for 50% off of massage services.
4) Get involved with your community.
Get involved with local events. Once you have established an online community, try to engage with those individuals in person. People like to associate a brand or clinic name with relatable activities, topics or familiar faces. The more the community can engage with your brand, the more loyalty you will build leading to better business. Get out there and meet people; you will get great sharable content and people to share it with. Building a large online community of followers is key.
On the more professional side, you can share peer reviewed articles that you find interesting and start a discussions OR post a question you can’t find the answer to. Being able to engage your fellow therapist community can be valuable for your professional career and create lucrative partnerships. Use resources such as Physiopedia and The PT Project to share your knowledge, stay up to date with current trends and help unite the physical therapy profession across the world.
5) Have a good time
People will know if you are using Social Media simply because you heard it was the thing to do and checked it off of your To Do list. Instead, get out there and enjoy it. Have fun. At first, join in conversations others have started and then pose your own questions. It may seem like nobody is listening or you may question why anyone would want to listen to what you have to say. But if you have a few conversations and you join in on issues you care about, you will see that you are not alone in your thoughts and they can make a difference. At that point, you will be well on your way.
Scott Stratten (UnMarketing) recently tweeted a phrase that I think represents the mindset needed when using social for business.
Make this your mantra and loyal customers will follow.
Thanks to Mike Manheimer, WebPT’s social media specialist, for his wisdom in contributing to this article.