Facebook has been getting a lot of negative publicity lately.
It’s true that the monster social network has its share of issues, and is no longer an automatic way to reach thousands of people with your message.
But as a savvy medical professional looking to market your medical practice, Facebook still has a lot to offer.
If you use it right.
It’s easy to get tripped up and waste time and money trying to promote your practice on Facebook, spinning your wheels and ending up worse off than when you started, but if you follow the right steps, you can get tons of value from the time you invest.
Marketing your solo or small medical practice on Facebook is an art, and these following five tips will make sure you get Mona Lisa results from your time.
1. Create a persona of your ideal patient
Before spending boatloads of time on Facebook, you need to do a little research to make sure it’s going to be worth it for you. Are the people you’re trying to attract to your practice even on Facebook?
And if they are, how do you find them?
The first step is to be sure you know who you’re trying to attract, and the best way to do that is by building an ideal patient persona.
At minimum your patient persona should include the following information:
- Demographic information (age, gender, income, health insurance coverage).
- Personality information (interests, eating habits, travel, hobbies/athletic activities).
- Health goals (lose weight, get whiter teeth, solve back pain).
You can gather this information through interviews with existing patients, surveys, and online research.
The persona will allow you to decide whether Facebook is a good fit for you and, if it is, how to best target ads, or write posts to appeal to your ideal patient.
2. Create a Facebook page for your practice
This will be the main way you interact on Facebook. Don’t use your personal account as that can be seen as unprofessional.
The steps to actually creating a page are straightforward, and detailed in Facebook’s own help pages.
But to build a great one you need to make sure you include:
- Photos of your practice: Pictures are hugely important on Facebook and drive up engagement rates.
- Contact information: The “about” section allows you to add a link to your own website, phone number, address and more.
- A prominent call to action: Utilize the cover photo, or “about” section, or both, to drive visitors to your own website, or email list. The ultimate goal of getting Facebook fans and likes is to increase your patient base, and building up an email list, or directing them to your contact page or blog is a great way to do this.
Once you’ve got the basics filled out, it’s time to start creating content.
3. Post compelling content
You actually want to publish a few posts to the page before trying to get any fans to it, because you want them to have something to see/do when they arrive.
A good Facebook post consists of a few different elements:
- An image or video: pictures do much better than just text posts on Facebook.
- A small amount of text: 40 characters or less.
- A question or direct challenge to engage your fans. Orthopedic Foot and Ankle in Ohio does a great of this with a weekly challenge to get their fans interacting with their page.
- If it’s not a question or challenge, make sure a post offers great information, or answers specific patient questions in a “how to” format.
Ideally you want to publish Facebook posts fairly often. Two times per day is the minimum, and some sources suggest as often as every three hours.
4. Get fans
Once you’ve got 4-5 posts up on your page, then you can start inviting friends, colleagues, and other people in your network to “like” your page.
After you’ve exhausted your personal circles, consider a few other methods for growing fans:
- Promote your Facebook page on your website.
- Link to your Facebook page in your email signature.
- Post in Facebook groups where your target ideal patient would spend time (for instance, local health/fitness groups, or groups focused on activities in your city or county) but be careful not to be overly promotional or come across as spammy when you do.
The one thing you shouldn’t do here, especially if you want to see some sort of return from your efforts, is buy “likes” or fans. A lot of services out there promise to give you thousands of new fans to your Facebook page for just a bit of money, but those “likes” aren’t real people, and they won’t help you get more patients. Instead it will hurt your chances of posts being seen by your actual target audience.
5. Consider Facebook ads
This isn’t for everybody, or even most people.
Odds are, when you’re just starting your page it doesn’t make sense to use Facebook ads to bring more people to it.
However, if you already have some quality content and posts, with a high engagement rate from your existing fans, and if you feel comfortable with online advertising, consider testing a paid campaign on Facebook.
The benefit to this is you can reach more people, but also you can target your ideal patient very closely, making sure your ads only appear to people living in your city, within a certain age-range etc.
But before you spend money on an ad, make sure to really research how to make the most out of it.
Any other tips for doing well on Facebook as a doctor or medical professional? How else have you promoted your practice with social media? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!