Social media is a powerful communication tool, as demonstrated by its ability to influence, educate, and inform prospective customers across a variety of industries. From consumer products and real estate to political campaigns, technology, and beyond, social media has become an integral tactic in any marketer’s toolbox.
What about medical marketing? Medical and dental practices use social media to inform patients and attract new ones, reinforce their brand, boost web presence, build credibility, and enhance online reputation.
If you’re skeptical about how social media can support your healthcare practice’s marketing strategy, here are some powerful statistics to consider.
The verdict is in: Social media isn’t going anywhere. According to Statista, nearly 80 percent of Americans use at least one social media platform. Facebook and Twitter have now been around for more than 15 years and have become part of our daily lives. Add in massively frequented outlets like YouTube and Instagram, and practices have a variety of channels to connect with patients in meaningful and engaging ways.
As a market leader, Facebook draws nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adults. While checking their feed for the latest on family and friends, users often spend time engaging with the more-than 200 million small businesses that use Facebook. A report published by Datareportal says Facebook users spend nearly 20 hours per month on the platform, providing healthcare practices with numerous opportunities to inform, educate, and connect with both current and prospective patients.
(source: Pew Research)
If your practice is working with a limited marketing budget, it’s critical to know which of your marketing tactics are the most effective. One of the many benefits of social media marketing over traditional channels is the ability to track your campaigns’ results and progress — this offers greater insight into your social media return on investment.
Practices using social media can track the number of users reached with each post, their level of engagement (clicks, “likes”), how many people visited their website or booked an appointment as a result, and much more. While data review takes a bit of time, Buffer’s 2019 State of Social Media Report reaffirms that most marketers are pleased with the performance of their social media marketing efforts.
This highlights the importance of creating mobile-friendly social media content. That means making your posts that short, sweet and to the point. Smartphone and tablet users also enjoy dynamic content like video — short videos can be among the most successful communication on mobile devices.
Finally, since the goal of most social media posts is to convert readers and followers into patients via your website, this reaffirms the need for a website that is either mobile-optimized or mobile-responsive. That’s the only way to ensure a clear, satisfying experience for patients who visit your site via their mobile device.
If your practice is not participating on Instagram, you risk losing prospective patients to the social media-savvy practice down the road. While you may think of Instagram as a newer platform, it’s been around for more than a decade, and is drawing more businesses using the channel as part of an integrated marketing strategy.
In the popular PatientPop social media 101 webinar, 8 of 10 live attendees told us they already use Instagram at their practice — second only to Facebook. Think of Instagram almost like a rotating billboard, with people spending a lot more time “driving” their mobile devices than cars these days. Within your Instagram account, you can feature physicians, facilities, services you offer, and any visually appealing content that won’t play as well on other channels.
If your specialty lends itself to visual storytelling — aesthetics, plastic surgery, dermatology, weight loss — then Instagram is a must. Its light tone and quick video snippets make it easy to engage with your followers, and can help prospective patients get to know your brand and services in an interactive way.
That’s more than 41 minutes a day, of what people too often perceive as time-wasting videos of silly animals, pranks, and stunts. But with a staggering variety of videos, YouTube can be a source of education. Why not bring meaningful information to your prospective patients? Healthcare practices that use YouTube connect with followers, patients, and prospective patients on a more personal level.
Common healthcare practice uses for YouTube videos include:
For providers who offer unique or highly specialized services, YouTube can be a powerful tool to introduce your practice to patients who may not otherwise make their way to your website.
You know the old mantra “Experience is everything?” It translates well to the world of social media. Healthcare practices that engage with social media followers, respond to questions and feedback promptly, and offer a positive patient experience are introducing themselves to a much broader audience than most are used to.
Take that opportunity to show off your patient-focused approach for all to see. Treat social media comments, questions, direct messages, reviews, and feedback just as you would when speaking with a patient in person or on the phone. This increases your chances of scoring a personal recommendation, and helps continually improve your online reputation.
(Source: Forbes, via Oberlo)
Just when healthcare practices figured out the social media basics, the Stories format has taken over and users can’t get enough. Stories has played an integral role on Instagram for more than a decade — now, on Facebook, the format is growing 15 times faster than news-feed sharing.
Healthcare practices can use the fast-moving Stories option to give followers a quick look within the practice, feature patients (with permission, of course!) or providers, or highlight new services or equipment. When it comes to Facebook or Instagram Stories, creativity is the name of the game. But remember that Stories disappear after 24 hours unless you add them to your highlights reel, on Instagram and Facebook.
The rise of direct messaging on social media has created yet another avenue for patients and prospective patients to connect with your healthcare practice. Don’t ignore them.
Check your messages regularly and respond promptly, just as you would after receiving a voicemail or patient portal message. As with the tips in number 7, this level of connection can help you improve the patient experience and maintain a positive online reputation.
(source: Drift, via Oberlo)
Since most experts assume the use of social media as a business communications channel will increase, you may find your practice receiving more patient inquiries with time. Consider delegating the responsibility of monitoring and responding to comments to a practice staff member with a great track record for delivering exceptional customer service and prompt response times.
Instantly see how you compare to other practices in your local area and specialty.