How to Use Social Media in your Practice
If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably no secret that having a social media campaign is an integral part of a successful business marketing campaign. Having said this, it’s also probably accurate to assume that for many clinic owners and practitioners, it is overwhelming to know where to start and how to implement and monitor a successful campaign.
This the first blog in a 4 part series intended to help clinic owners set up a social media strategy, decide on the appropriate target platforms to use and how to monitor performance. Subsequent blogs in this series will explore the specifics of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
The Top 6 Social Media Strategy Basics
Let’s begin with a concept that most practitioners are very familiar with: goals. Or more specifically: specific-measurable-attainable-relevant-time bound (SMART) goals. For example, if the goal of your social media marketing campaign is to increase brand/clinic awareness, the SMART goal may look like this: to increase social media engagement by 25% in the next 3 months by measuring an increase from the first month (baseline) compared to the third month in terms of likes/shares/comments/followers.
Effort and time are scarce resources to a busy clinician and clinic owner, so it’s important to set social media goals from the start so you can better evaluate whether your efforts are worth it, or whether your campaign needs revamping.
2) Know your target market
You may have great content on your social media platforms, but are they reaching the right audience? It’s imperative to know your target market by considering their age, income, occupation, hobbies/interests, etc to help you decide which social media platform will best target this population to increase engagement on your site. There are plenty of free online resources to help decide which social media platforms are best suited for your target market. As a guide, consider reading this article on social media demographics from Sprout Social.
Remember, however, social media demographic guidelines are simply guides. To really hone in on your target market, it’s worth taking a look at your current client demographic. This information should be available through your existing client database. If you are a new clinic, you can gather this information on intake, and ask patients to complete a short questionnaire on referral source including some questions on their social media preferences.
3) Choose the right social media platform!
Having defined SMART goals and a target audience will make it much easier to decide which platform is primary and which one is secondary. This will help you best allocate your efforts and help make decisions on your marketing priorities and budget to avoid wasting resources.We wrote a post, 'Which Social Network is Best for My Healthcare Practice', that gives an overview of each of the most popular networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) to help you decide which is right for you.
4) How are other clinics executing their social media strategy?
Once you’ve decided which channel best suits your target market, check to see if your competitors are on the same platform and take note of the type of content they produce, their follower's engagement levels, and how they respond to their followers.
Do they simply respond to followers' comments? Do they always acknowledge followers and follow them back? Are there unique or creative engagement tactics? Do they use the platform to advertise new promotions, events, staff members or business changes, or do they just post educational information relating to injury and physiotherapy?
Assessing your competitors' strategy and determining their success helps you see how you compare, and might also take some of the trial and error work out for your own campaign.
5) Content strategy
Whatever content you choose, make sure it fits with your company's image and tone. Your content, or how you present your information may, however, be largely dictated by the social media platform you choose. The use of images, videos, links, or text-only might change depending on whether you use Twitter or Facebook.
For example, Twitter allows for short posts, or tweets, and hyperlinks. It also allows users to tweet images or videos, but videos must be under a certain file size and to a maximum of 30 seconds in length. If you have longer text or video, you might want to consider using Facebook as there are fewer restrictions. If your content is predominantly images or short videos, you may want to consider using Instagram. Or, if your content fits across a variety of social media platforms, you can choose to post on all platforms using a social media management tool (see #6 below).
You will also want to consider the time and frequency of posting content in order to get maximum exposure to your audience and increase chances of engagement. For a quick guide on the best and worst times to post across social media platforms, check out this infographic by Fast Company.
6) Monitoring and prioritizing marketing strategies
Now that you have a social media strategy in place, you need to allocate time and resources to manage and monitor your progress and return on investment. This doesn’t have to be very time consuming, and there are a variety of free and paid tools you can use to automate and simplify the process that we will discuss below.
If you don’t personally have time to create and monitor content consistently, delegate it to a staff member. You should set aside some time weekly however to stay on top of your overall social media strategy, even if it’s just an hour.
There are a variety of social media monitoring tools out there for you to choose from. At healthSwapp, we use Hootsuite as our social media management platform.
Hootsuite operates on a freemium model and allows you to connect with over 35 popular social media networks. The system interface takes the form of a dashboard, and gives you the ability to manage the social networks of your choice, schedule messages for future publishing, and allows you to monitor the scope of your social media activity across all platforms. Hootsuite also has an analytics function that allows you to track how well your social media content is being received so you can see what is and isn’t working and refine your strategy going forward.
There are a variety of other tools that help you understand your performance on social media. One such example who is new to the market is CrowdBabble, which helps your optimize and benchmark your social media performance through analytics. This tools allows you to dig deeper into social data to help uncover and capitalize on actionable insights.
In the first part of this blog series, we discussed some basic components to executing a successful social media campaign including SMART goals, how to decide on the appropriate target platforms, and how to best monitor performance. Regardless of your platform(s) of choice, find ways to streamline your posts and management - we use and love Hootsuite but here's a comprehensive list of social media marketing management tools. The best strategy to employ overall across all networks is to actually be social and engage consistently with your audience.
The second part of this blog series will focus on strategies specific to Instagram including the top tools for finding relevant hashtags, how to create content, image filters and where to find some inspiration for your posts.
Holly Mitchell BA, MSc(PT)
Holly is a physiotherapist and disruptive healthcare technology advocate with 10 years of clinical experience in both Canada and Australia. She graduated from McMaster University with a Master of Science in Physiotherapy and is on the Embodia Quality Assurance team for continuing education courses. Her area of interest is the connection between planetary and human health and the innovative potential health technology has in mitigating the environmental impacts of the healthcare industry. Holly currently consults with big employers on business opportunities for virtual injury prevention services and industrial sports medicine programs. Her free time is spent figuring out what exactly goes into the recycling bin, chasing her toddler son, figuring out adult ballet, kayaking, and camping in the great Canadian wilds.