Social media marketing has essentially become unavoidable. More than three-quarters of the U.S. population (79 percent) has at least one social media profile, according to Statista. Furthermore, Statista estimates the number of social media users in the U.S. will rise from roughly 244 million in 2018 to approximately 257 million by 2023. Given these numbers, standing out from the crowd on social media is important, but it isn’t easy.
Here’s some advice to help your practice overcome common challenges of healthcare social media.
1. Highlighting patient success stories without revealing PHI
Incorporating patient success stories into your social media marketing is a great way to promote your expertise. However, be careful not to accidentally disclose PHI, as this can lead to a HIPAA violation.
Knowledge is the key to avoiding this, so know what constitutes PHI — i.e. using a patient’s name or nickname, their address or geographical location, dates they were treated, numbers that could identify them, and anything else that might compromise their identity.
When compiling patient success stories for social media, work with a legal professional to create patient marketing consent forms. Otherwise, only discuss patients in general terms without revealing PHI, and always triple-check content for potential privacy violations before posting.
2. Reaching their target patient base
A Facebook post has an organic reach of just 6.4 percent of a Page’s likes, according to We Are Social. However, the average paid reach is 27.3 percent higher than the average total reach.
Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that 53 percent of companies use social advertising — i.e., purchasing ads on social networks — according to HootSuite. Facebook advertising and sponsored content can extend your social media reach to ensure your practice gets in front of your target patients.
Social media advertising campaigns can be created to fit any budget, and they’re effective. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (65 percent) will click through to learn more about social ads that appear on their screen, according to Sprout Social.
3. Determining good content to share
Growing your patient base is the overarching purpose for social media marketing, but coming on too strong will get you unfollowed fast. Generally speaking, approximately 80 percent of your content should be informative or interesting and 20 percent should be promotional.
When it comes to the type of content that performs best, no two audiences are the same. Carefully monitor your posts to see what types of content — i.e. pictures, videos, graphics, how-tos — as well as what subjects get the most engagement.
4. Finding time to share and engage
Proper social media management is a key component of an effective strategy. You won’t engage your patient base by posting content sporadically and occasionally responding to comments.
In fact, 52 percent of small businesses post on social media at least daily, according to Clutch. Schedule time on your calendar each day for social media marketing activities to make sure they don’t fall by the wayside.
Of course, as a busy doctor, you might not have time to effectively manage your social media properties. In this case, delegate this task to a member of your staff or take on an outside social media partner.
5. Choosing the right social media platforms
Different demographics gravitate toward different social networks — i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If you don’t take the time to figure out where your patient base is, your medical social media efforts might be wasted on the wrong crowd.
For example, 64 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are on Instagram, but only 40 percent of 30-to-49-year-olds have an account on the site, according to Sprout Social. Maintaining social media accounts on multiple platforms will allow you to reach different demographics that fall into your target patient group.
Check out: The 10 best doctor accounts on Instagram
6. Getting patients to share their content
The more your social media content is shared, the broader your reach. However, people don’t share just anything, so give them quality and compelling content they’re excited to share with their own networks.
Post on topics important to your patient base, take time to proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, and share information from credible sources. You can also hold a social media contest where entry involves sharing a certain post and tagging a friend or two.
Patients want to connect with you on social media, but simply having an account isn’t enough to promote your practice. Finding success in healthcare social media requires a significant time investment, but it’s well worth the effort.
Another common healthcare social media struggle is replying to comments and recommendations. For tips on how to manage this, see the blog post “How to engage on social media with HIPAA in mind.”