Today’s guest post, written by Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen, reviews the many social media platforms that are available to help promote your practice and get more clients. With the many social media options available, there are a few factors to consider when designing your online presence. This is a great start for many, hope it helps you get up and running – we need a stronger online presence and sharing of knowledge!
Choosing a Social Media Platform to Get More Clients
Unless you’ve been living under quite the rock for the past decade, you may have heard the words “social media” from time to time—okay, you’ve probably been bombarded by at least one example of social media in almost every conversation you’ve had, every commercial you’ve seen, or any time you check your email. You probably have an account or three. But here’s something else you may have noticed among the constant stream of Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Pinterest, and Instagram plugs: social media is no longer just a platform for, well, being social. It’s also a way for companies to connect with current and potential consumers—which in your case means patients, clients, and referral sources for you. (Photo by Khalid Albaih)
Let’s start off with the basics. Social media is a conversation platform first and foremost, so it’s probably not the best idea to go from 0 to 60 in less than a minute and create a profile for your business on every platform that exists. In fact, one of the most damaging things you can do is create a profile and then abandon it—and your followers. It can communicate all sorts of negative things to prospects about your company, your brand, and your business. Instead, choose the right social media platform for your business and your audience, and then focus on making it represent you the right way.
So, with so much information out there—much of it advertising—how do you pick the right social media platform for your practice?
How to Pick the Right Social Media Platform for You
First, consider your goals. Are you hoping to educate current patients and clients; entice potential consumers; engage referral sources; or simply stay up to date on the latest industry news? Based on your goals, you can then figure out whom you want to reach. In other words, who is your target audience? Then, go where they go. Ultimately, you’ll want to get involved on the sites that best allow you to achieve your goals and reach your audience. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular:
Everybody and their grandmother are on Facebook. Although it’s may have lost its hip, cool factor, it’s an ideal place for businesses to connect with current and potential patients as well as demonstrate a level of relevancy. And, because everyone else is on Facebook, you should probably be, too. Here, focus on providing valuable educational information about your industry and your specialization. Your posts should be more than sales pitches—make sure you’re offering your readers content with value. And, it’s all about reciprocity. Participate in the conversation; get involved. Friend and like.
Here are some great Facebook pages to like and share with your audience:
140 characters has become the slickest form of online communication—short, informational bursts of copy followed by a descriptive hashtag and maybe a supporting photo or link. If nothing else, Twitter is a great way to force brevity in your writing. Most people online have way short attention spans (squirrel) so being forced to fit your comment in 140 characters will ensure you only write the things that absolutely matter. Additionally, Twitter is a fantastic way to generate instant conversation and gain valuable insight into just about any industry or topic you wish from experts. For PTs, we recommend hopping into #SolvePT on Tuesday nights to get started. Watch for a while, and then when you’re comfortable, jump right in with your thoughts. Here, you’ll meet some of the heavy hitters in the physical therapy Twitterverse and maybe take notes as to how they generate interest in the profession and their services. Here are some great hashtags to keep an eye on:
The world’s largest professional network has more than 161 million members. Here, you’ll do less interacting with patients and clients and more with your peers. It’s a great way to connect with fellow therapists and referring physicians. And for any savvy patients who go searching for you online, they’ll find a robust resume of your accomplishments. You can also join groups within LinkedIn to discuss topics that interest you.
Check out some of the great groups that you can join:
It’s a virtual pinboard that allows you to tell your story and inspire through compelling photos or images grouped into specific, searchable categories. Here, you can build pinboards—and research others’ boards—for treatment ideas, infographics, best practices, and happy thoughts.
Give these pinners a follow to get started:
Blogger or WordPress
These two very easy and intuitive platforms make it easy to create your own blog, which is a great way to promote your expertise and provide excellent, valuable content to patients, clients, peers, and referrers. Just note: your blog is public—just as all social media posts are—so you obviously can’t share individual patient data or recommendations.
Similar to Facebook in that they both share the concept of profiles, Google+ also offers hangouts and circles and is fully integrated with your Google (Gmail) account. Most importantly, however, Google+ is a Google product, so a detailed Google+ profile can help increase your practice’s visibility and ranking in search.
Now Get Started!
Once you decide which social media platform(s) you’re ready to commit to, get committed. Create your profiles and start speaking with your audience. Just be sure that what you share relates to your goal and is meaningful to your followers. And stick to it. Reciprocity and engagement can take time; make sure you’re dedicated with your efforts.
About the Authors
Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen are both Senior Writers at WebPT, the leading cloud-based EMR software designed specifically for the rehab community. For follow-up questions or additional information about WebPT, email at [email protected].