Medical Practice Management of Social Media Marketing
Medical practice management involves many roles, and social media marketing can assist a medical centre in many ways. Communication with existing patients can be done through a variety of mediums but social media can also connect with a wider audience. It can be used to raise awareness, such as the latest information on influenza vaccines or even to counter misinformation, for example that the vaccine will give you the flu.
As everybody has a different mix of communication methods, it can also be a way to instantly connect with people, for example if the medical centre had flooded and had to close for the afternoon. Social media platforms come in a variety of styles and having access to at least a couple of them will help spread the messages you wish to convey.
Types of social media platforms
For those that use social media this will seem quite obvious but to the uninitiated, it can be confusing. Understanding the social media options that are available will make it easier to determine content is the best fit.
Facebook is easily the most widely used and biggest social networking site in the world. Although the main function is a social profile used to post and communicate with friends or family, it can also be used to connect to groups, sell online or advertise.
Instagram is based completely on sharing photos and video, with the capacity to add filters and then post with comments or even share on other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site for posting short messages, called ‘tweets’, using a limited number of characters. Although these three are very popular, another platform to consider is Pinterest, which like Instagram, is for visual content but has a very high female user base. LinkedIn may also be applicable if looking to hire staff.
Each platform varies slightly, for example, Twitter is mostly used as a conduit for news, Instagram is used by a younger audience and half of Facebook users check that site several times a day.
Setting marketing goals
Asking what needs to be achieved through the social marketing of the medical practice can provide direction for those involved. These goals could be part of a wider marketing objective such as an increase in clinic numbers by a percentage over a defined period. It may be more specific to social media such as having a certain number of followers by a given date or a minimum reach for a post.
Either way, the goals created should be practical and can be best achieved if they follow a framework. One of the best methods is by following the S.M.A.R.T. method.
To describe clearly the who, what, where, when, why and/or which of what needs to be accomplished. This description should be easily understood for those involved.
To help know if the goal is a success a target metric should be used, such as a percentage or number.
To keep the goal challenging but realistic so that it still has the potential to be completed within the time allocated and with resources that are available.
To ensure the goal is practical, worthwhile and is in line with any higher-level or long term goals.
A clearly defined time frame for the goal to be achieved that includes a target date provides motivation and priorities the task above other distractions.
Using this framework a goal that was ’to reach more people online’ can become ’to increase Facebook page followers by 10% for each month in-between July and December this year’. A goal may be to increase awareness of the medical centre, grow the number of people who visit the website or even more specifically the number of people who book online. The effectiveness of these goals can then be tracked with Google Analytics and other similar tools
Creating social media content
It’s important to have a strong commitment to quality content when starting social media marketing. After all social media can form part of a medical centres public image and as such what is posted should reflect the style and values of a medical centre.
Being consistent with both the type of material posted and the times which content is released builds familiarity and allows followers to get into the rhythm of regular posts. The style of images used can help build recognition and when someone visits a social media page this will be more evident. The tone of the content should also be consistent and should be carefully considered to ensure it is appropriate for the image the clinic wishes to present.
As for the content itself, it should fall into the category of education, information or entertainment. Education could be something as simple as a post that leads to an article titled ‘How best to treat a snake bite’. Information may be ’Introducing our latest staff members’ or a change in clinic hours. Entertainment could involve pictures from a charity run that staff participated in or from a birthday celebrated at the clinic.
When developing content it is important to be compliant with current advertising regulations. More detail about medical advertising legislation and guidelines can be found in this previous medical practice management article.
Advertising on social media
Allocating a section of an advertising budget to social media advertising is wise. Advertising on search engines such as Google or Bing is good if someone searches for you but social media adverts can be specifically targeted to a location, demographics and people’s interests.
Advertising on Facebook can be done by simply ‘boosting’ a post or ads can be set up within the Facebook Ads Manager. Boosting a post is the quickest and most basic way of getting content advertised on Facebook but what it offers in ease it lacks in options. Location, age, gender, and interests can be targeted with a boosted ad, whereas Facebook Ads can also target language, behaviour and offer other features such as scheduling, a call to action button or optimised bidding.
To begin using Facebook Ads a manager account needs to be set up. From there, an ad type can be chosen to improve page likes or overall brand awareness, as would be offered with a boosted post. However, Facebook Ads also offers optimisation for things such as website conversions. Ads can be created from posts within the Facebook business page just like a boost but can also be created independently of content that shows on a medical clinic’s Facebook page.
So boosting is easy but is not as targeted and therefore may not deliver the return in advertising dollar as much as the more strategic and precise Facebook Ads manager.
Ads in Facebook can be extended to include Instagram and followers in Facebook can be invited to follow the Instagram page. If wishing to advertise directly from Instagram, setting up ads is very similar as it is owned by Facebook. Custom audiences can be created from existing followers and then similar audiences can be selected to target. It’s a good idea to use original images or video, but if not feasible stock images can be used. Also, note that hashtags are used on Instagram more than elsewhere and they are a great way to connect with specific audiences.
Twitter is currently under-utilised for advertising but content can be promoted, but just like normal tweets, it needs to be concise. Pinterest is the opposite where long, detailed descriptions can be added to an image. Advertising on LinkedIn is more relevant for business to business advertising but could be used for staff recruitment.
Whichever platforms you advertise on it is important to monitor the progress of each ad to see what is working and what is not. That way future content can be refined and can gradually build the effectiveness of each campaign.
What to avoid in Social Media Marketing
Taking on too many types of social media all at once can make it difficult to maintain momentum. Better to start off small and be consistent with posts than to be irregular with content.
Negative feedback can be hard to take but it is best not to delete comments unless they are abusive or offensive. If there is a need to respond then best to remain neutral and avoid the potential for an argument. In other cases, comments can be let be and used to make improvements where applicable.
To ensure both the reputation of patients, staff and the medical practice are protected it is important to have a social media policy. This clarifies the standards for permissible and prohibited content for both personal and professional social media, for example ensuring that testimonials are not used to advertise medical services.
Success in social media be it free posts or paid advertising, can be measured in many ways, but it is based upon delivering content that the people you hope to attract will find valuable. The mediums you choose are places where current and potential clients spend time online, so being present is an opportunity to connect and give them a better idea of what your medical centre is about.
If you would like to know more about how marketing can be used to meet your goals, and what potential it holds for developing your medical practice, please contact Nicky Jardine on 1300 798 831.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE IS FOR GUIDANCE ONLY. IF, AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE, YOU ARE STILL UNSURE IF YOUR ADVERTISING COMPLIES WITH THE NATIONAL LAW WE RECOMMEND YOU SEEK ADVICE FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, INSURER AND/OR INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVISER.