Developing a Social Media Strategy for Medical Clinics

“I come from a culture where the pub is the center of the community. The pub is the Internet. It’s where information is gathered, collated and addressed.” Rhys Ifans

The use of social media has risen exponentially in the last few years. It has transformed how information is shared and how businesses communicate with their clients. and it can be a strong value for cosmetic surgery practices as well.

Having a Facebook page for your clinic allows you to promote your business, interact with existing and potential clients, and create positive relationships. You will be able to talk about the services you offer, products you sell, and procedures you perform. But Facebook is just the place to begin. There are many additional platforms that offer new opportunities for clinics to build their brand.

The challenge is finding the time to do it all, as well as learning how to stand out and getting your message across effectively and with the right tone. Whether you are just starting on a social media marketing strategy, designing a new campaign, or trying to figure out if Snapchat makes sense, get up to speed on the most relevant platforms, who uses them, why, and how.

Here are top tips for developing a social media strategy for medical clinics.

MVPs (MOST VALUABLE PLATFORMS)

Platform Active Monthly Users

FB—Facebook 2 billion

TW—Twitter 328 million

IG—Instagram 700 million

LI—LinkedIn 400 million

SC—Snapchat 301 million

YT—YouTube 1.5 billion

Pinterest —200 million

Source: (as of July 15, 2017).


Social media platforms have enabled physicians to be more visible to patients in exciting ways. They provide an ideal venue for humor and other forms of creative content. If you create quality content, your fans will come back for more. The content that excites your fans is what gets shared, forwarded, and linked to from other sites. This is what keeps people reading and drives conversions.

Undoubtedly, most successful clinics are already heavily invested online and have developed a robust web presence over time. Social media now plays a vital role in marketing for aesthetic practice. But this new way of marketing is constantly changing, which can be overwhelming, confusing, and downright frustrating for the novice and the veteran alike. It takes time and effort to build up engagement and reach on social platforms, and a strategic plan must consider the clinic’s brand position. A haphazard approach to social media is sure to fail.

Two-Way Dialogue

It takes a double dose of ingenuity and a creative mindset to build a community and keep them engaged. Social media users are a fickle bunch. They are easily distracted by the next new thing and have the ability to quickly screen out anything that does not catch their interest. If your campaign fails to entice and encourage participation, social media users can be brutal. If you miss the mark, they are not so shy about telling you so. As aesthetic practitioners know all too well, happy, satisfied customers are less likely to go public, say thank you, or write glowing reviews and endorsements. Disgruntled patients tend to be more vocal, proactive, often tell you what they do not like, and expect an immediate response.

 Question

True or False? Social media is only important during normal business hours.

False: Social media is a 24/7, 365 days/year thing.


People will be posting on social networks on their mobile devices at any time during the day or night. Each platform is also different in terms of peak times for interactions. Just because your clinic is closed on Sunday does not mean people are not on Facebook on Sundays. National holidays offer great opportunities to post because there is so much more you can say.

Someone must be minding the store, responding to posts and queries, creating interesting content, and engaging with fans and followers 24/7. You should aim to respond to every reasonable comment as quickly as possible, and deal with negative posts head on.

An hour a day when the receptionist is not busy is not enough to maintain your brand on social media. The clinic receptionist should be answering the phones promptly and dealing with patients efficiently, without the distraction of liking pages and retweeting posts.

Social media has changed the nature of interactions among consumers and brands in four key ways:

1. User-generated content

2. Building community

3. Real-time conversation

4. Two-way dialogue

Social media has become increasingly diversified, as content is more engaging and visual.

  • The key is to choose the platforms best suited to your target audience. It has become increasingly more difficult to differentiate yourself on platforms with hundreds of millions or billions of users, and an ad strategy has become mandatory to get seen.
  • While having a lot of likes on Facebook is certainly important, actual engagement, human interaction, and two-way conversions remain the overriding goals of social media.
  • Sustainable growth requires clever storytelling, authentic branding, user-generated campaigns, and quality content. You need to be present where your target audience is going and be an early adopter on those key channels.
  • Let your audience know where they can find you so they do not miss out on your posts. Add social buttons and usernames on all your marketing materials, including your website, blog, all other social media channels, e-blasts, business cards, newsletters, and all consumer-facing practice materials.
  • Whenever possible, secure the same username throughout all social media channels for consistency and to make it easier for patients to find you.
  • It is better to be on your platforms of choice in frequent bursts than to put in an hour or two randomly throughout the week. Key time savers include the ability to preschedule updates and tools that can update multiple platforms at once. Scheduling aids have transformed social media posting and tracking.
  • Be careful not to utilize terminology that is specific to only one or two social networks. It can be confusing to post a status update on Facebook that uses hashtags that are specific to Twitter and Instagram. If you are posting across networks, make sure your message works for all of them by changing the format and style to match the users.
  • Learn which platforms are most relevant for your marketing goals, and how to maximize performance on those key platforms to reap the greatest rewards. Link back to your website by posting your URL on Twitter, Facebook, and so on, to drive people back to your website so that your activities are not just purely conversational. Driving visitors to your website is the key as your website is your marketing mothership
  • When you are tweeting, Facebooking, or blogging, you can continually send people back to you to capture their e-mail addresses. Social media platforms may come and go and waver in popularity, but your e-mail lists are marketing gold.
  • Break down social media into platforms that are mandatory and those that are optional, based on the clinic’s primary and secondary target audiences, goals, budget, and manpower. You do not have to use every social media platform, but at least set up a profile on the best of or at least reserve your clinic name. Use the same username across all or most of them for consistency and clarity. So the process is less overwhelming, implement one platform at a time, and then focus on those that have the highest return for your practice. Invest the most time and money on the sites the majority of your patients are most active on.

Technically, you should not be using the same content in the same way for every social platform. Consider which platform your post is the best fit for, and change the way it is used on other platforms. For example, if you are hosting a patient seminar, think about whether it would work better for Twitter or is it Snapchat worthy? Is just posting a group photo on Instagram enough? Or should you put it on Facebook and Twitter to generate the most views. You cannot just tweet and post about how great you are every day, or your audience will stop paying attention. This is not what social media is all about. It is about a dialogue and sharing. The secret is to make it interactive, like asking a question or crowdsourcing.

Engagement Strategies

Social media has redefined the rules for how business is done and, thus, how successful clinics are run. This sea change has had sweeping effects on medical aesthetics. For example, the traditional, one-way ad campaign has evolved into a more personal and dynamic two-way dialogue. This allows clinics to really connect and engage with their customers.

Start by figuring out the platforms that your patients are on, and expand from there. Looking at social media becomes overwhelming, so we want to dissect it and bring it to a level that you are comfortable with and that is manageable in-house.

Know, Like, Trust

Building trust with your customers is like dating. The courtship phase does not happen overnight. It takes time, powers of persuasion, and a healthy dose of sensitivity.

Social media can help to increase the “know, like, and trust” (KLT) factor of your practice. It is an effective way to build new relationships; strengthen existing relationships with colleagues, clients, media, and vendors; and let them know what is happening in your practice. These channels are new ways of talking to existing and new patients online. Think of social media as a network of communication channels. Focus your efforts on leading people toward making a purchase, for example, booking a consultation, scheduling a treatment, or purchasing a product from your practice.

Relationships need to go both ways, which speaks to the heart of the disconnect with many brands and practices. Keep the human component in customer relationships. It cannot be all one sided; don’t show your hand on what you want to get from them. You have to give something to get something. Start by listening rather than talking and responding instead of promoting. Consumers want to get to know your practice before they schedule a consultation. Enlightened clinic managers know how to focus on growing long-term relationships.

Setting a Budget

It is a mistake to think of social media as free because it does not cost anything to start a Facebook page. That is a common fallacy because your time is your most valuable resource. A campaign with the right tone and relevance can create affordable, meaningful audience engagement, when compared with the cost of traditional advertising. There are not many other ways to reach thousands of potential patients all over the world without spending a fortune on print, TV, and public relations. Social media is a more cost-effective strategy to define your brand, build your reputation, and bring in new patients. It is driven by word of mouth, resulting in earned media rather than paid media.

However, it does require commitment and resources. At some point, you may have to outsource this marketing strategy and have a search engine optimization (SEO) company handle optimization for you.

Make a list of everything you need to do social media well. You can try it yourself, but it may not look good or function well unless you put in the time. Someone has to shoot and edit video. Factor in staff time, because even if you hire a social media agency, they will need guidance from someone in the clinic to manage them and make sure that what they are posting is accurate, on brand, and will not get you into trouble.

Social media is not something that should just be delegated to whoever has some free time. It should be executed strategically and consistently by someone who gets it. If you don’t like it, it will show. Everything online is about transparency, and consumers are acutely aware of when you do not sound authentic. Marketing interns, grad students, and medical students can make excellent freelancers because they are typically avid social media users, need money, and can do the job from their phones.

Measuring Results

It is important to track where your clicks are coming from to stay on top of your social media results on a monthly basis. Analytics are readily available for most platforms so you can continually measure the response you get.

Facebook Insights are easy to use and reports can be created, which you can download and compare. You can go back years to measure success year over year, track best times of day and engagement, and figure out what the best measurement is for the strategy you are following—those are the numbers to pay the most attention to.

When tracked and tweaked regularly, a social media campaign can deliver excellent marketing dividends. The key to success is consistent measurement of the impact of your social efforts. With limited time and resources at your disposal, you need to know what is working and what is not.

The best way to assess the return on investment (ROI) for your social media marketing efforts is to track the number of website conversions that originated from your social media networks. Use Google Analytics to track how many people visit your website by clicking on the site content links that you post on social networks, or sharing your links with other users.

3 FREE TOOLS TO TRACK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

1. Facebook Insights

2. Twitter Analytics

3. Google Analytics, Google Alerts


Analyze Your Conversions

Set up customized goals for different types of conversions that you wish to track. Conversions or responses can come in various forms, such as a lead, an inquiry, a downloaded form or coupon, a subscription to your e-newsletter, or anything else that requires a specific action. Go to Traffic Sources to look for social conversion data, and click on “Conversions.” Detailed instructions are available to guide you through setting up your social tracking goals.

SOCIAL MEDIA TIP SHEET

•Learn the nuances of platforms your patients are on and best practices to use them.

•Develop a monthly calendar for each platform you are active on.

•Allocate a budget for ads, promotions, boosted posts to generate awareness, and conversion of new patients.

•Create shareable content that is unique to each platform and user experience.

•Assign roles within your clinic to execute a comprehensive social media strategy.

•Enlist external vendors as needed for help with strategy, content creation, posting, Facebook/Instagram ad management.


Posting Guidelines

Ideal posting times will depend on who you are trying to reach. If you are in the city and people who work in offices are coming in to see you during their lunch hour, that time frame may make sense. The only way to really know is to change times and see where you get more engagement, and then figure out a strategy to maximize it.

The chart of Best Posting Cadence below is intended as a guideline only to keep it manageable, although there is no definitive rule. If you are tracking engagement as you should be, you will be able to tell if you are posting too frequently and fans are not engaging. The number of times you post plus the timing of your posts can spell success or failure. Certain days and times may be better than others, based on your target audience.

Do not feel pressure to post multiple times a day or even every day unless you have something that adds value to share (e.g., a useful tip, information about a new treatment, a special offer, clinic news, etc.).

The biggest challenge is how well clinics can implement strategies to get the most benefits out of the effort.

6 RULES FOR SOCIAL SUCCESS

1. Outsource what you cannot do effectively. Do you have someone on staff who can do it well, and does he or she have time to manage multiple platforms consistently? When it becomes overwhelming, either hire a marketing intern to help or outsource your social media to an experienced agency.

2. Track each tactic to measure success and return on investment (ROI). To know what working or if a change of focus is needed or an increase in investment or time, resources, or staff, you need to track results.

3. Know your target markets. Do not waste time and money on tactics that will not resonate with your target audience. You can have a main target and also subtargets to expand your reach. Start by knowing who you want to attract and what you want to do more of (e.g., lasers, fillers, body shaping, or skincare services).

4. Invest in training. Give your team the right training to manage your digital marketing. The more they know, the more likely they will be successful.

5. Make it easy for patients to find you. Include social links on all signage and marketing materials from brochures to appointment cards and e-blasts, and place links above the fold on your website landing page.

6. Consistency and clarity are key. You won’t see results from doing something once. Create a social media marketing plan for 12 months, by creating content one month at a time, use consistent themes, images, and hashtags that speak to your clinic brand.

Tell Patients How to Find You

The main target audience for your social media includes patients who already know you. But don’t leave it up to chance that they will know how to find you on their own. Whenever possible, choose the same name across platforms for consistency, for example, @octa_digital or @JonesAesthetics. Post social buttons on all other marketing materials, including website landing page, e-mail marketing, blog posts, brochures, invitations, print advertisements, newsletters, and appointment cards. Include social network links on each platform to connect with other platforms on which you are active. Add tabs on your Facebook page to link to Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Last, post a sign in an elegant frame at the front desk, waiting room, and in treatment rooms, so patients and guests can connect with you.

It Is Not All about You—It Is about Them

Learn the difference between talking at your fans and talking to them. Even if you have scores of followers, if you do not engage with them properly, it is a wasted effort. Avoid overposting content that is purely self-promotional, for example, “The first clinic in the Midlands to…,” “The Best Cosmetic Doctor in London,” and so on. This content is neither clever nor imaginative, neither entertaining nor eye catching. Think of your social media platforms as places to share information, interests, and passions. By the same token, if every post is just about a “3 for 2 Offer” or “20% Off Fillers,” fans will lose interest and eventually opt out, and you will have devalued your brand in the process.

Think about how best to engage with fans. What do they like? What are they looking for? What will they want to share? If you don’t know, ask them. Use a survey or ask patients to give you some insights on what rocks their world.

Social media is a minefield for healthcare practitioners, so do not risk crossing any lines that may be blurred. Running a medical clinic is not the same as managing a retail shop or restaurant. We cannot play by the same rules. It presents many challenges for aesthetic clinics, but the rewards are there for those who are serious about it.

Position Yourself as an Authority

As an aesthetic practitioner, you want to be the go-to person who your fans can trust to get fair and balanced information on topics that matter to them. All the clutter online makes people want to focus on people or entities who give them what they want. Your followers should know to turn to you as a voice of expertise in aesthetic medicine. Consumers are wary of aggressive marketing messages, but they will trust experts.

People want to see a glimpse of who a practitioner is in real life, and sharing a little about who you are is a good thing. However, try to avoid oversharing too many personal details of your life. Once you put it out there, you can never reel it back in.

Shareable Content

The key to success is to consistently produce good content that is easy to share and to continue a dialogue. Use your content to identify fans who will talk about your practice and what you have done for them; discover what they love about you and what you can do to motivate them to share that love. You will never get your followers to talk about you by only talking at them. Social tools give you the means to ask them questions, invite them to take part in the content creation process, and give them a sense that they have a stake in your brand. This is the core of what you are trying to achieve.

Targeting is essential. The more narrowly you target, the more effective you will be, and the less money it will cost you in the end. Assess the platforms that are the most relevant to your patient population. In most cases, it is going to be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. It could be Snapchat if you have a younger population, depending on where you are located. Figure that out first, start with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (F.I.T.)

10 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR POSTS

1. Original snapshots

2. Before/after photos

3. Links to website, articles, blogs, podcasts

4. Short videos

5. Original graphics with clinic branding

6. Infographics

7. Quotagraphics

8. Memes, GIFs

9. Slide presentations

10. Infographics


How to Create Clever Hashtags

Hashtags are a must-have component of social media marketing. A hashtag is a symbol (#) with a phrase that is searchable. Hashtags are used throughout all or most social platforms and are mandatory on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Don’t go crazy creating random or branded hashtags. Unless you have a budget to promote these, for a contest or public relations campaign, they will be ownable but not searchable. You may use a hashtag for your clinic and/or practice, such as #AskDrB. (We often use #WLCO for our company posts.)

You are better off using the most popular relevant hashtags because these will get more eyes on your content. Choose some key hashtags to use frequently, then add more for specific content, and pay attention to what is trending. If you choose hashtags that are too general or obscure, your content may not show up because it is not searchable.

Staying on top of trending hashtags is also useful to join the conversation and to create a bridge between your clinic brand and customers. Instagram users are the biggest fans of hashtags, and you will often see posts that are literally all hashtagged terms, thus rendering them unreadable. If that is your strategy, your photos must be totally gorgeous to attract the readers’ attention. Blurry photos taken on your phone, or pictures out of context with poor angles and lighting are as bad as, if not worse than, no visuals at all. Social media users have high standards for photos—most especially on Instagram.

Only use hashtags on posts that are relevant to the topic or they lose their value. For example, if you use general but super popular hashtags, like #Instagood (613 million), #instadaily (280 million), and #beautiful (400 million), your post will not generate engagement because these are too vague to matter for your brand.

Emoji Nation

Today there are emojis that represent every person, place, or thing on the planet, and nearly everyone is using them to create more entertaining conversations and personal interactions on mobile platforms. Apparently, people like face emojis best.

Do not just choose your emojis (or words for that matter) randomly. They should be relatable and relevant to both the content and the user. They have to make sense to communicate with users on their level. If you want to connect with millennials, it means mastering the art of speaking emoji.

Emojis are used to convey a lot of information with as few words as possible. But don’t forego words entirely. You need a balance of both to get your message across. Try incorporating a few relevant emojis (three to five) that accurately express the intended meaning to see how your audience responds before going emoji-crazy.

To Sum it Up:

  • Social Media has changed the way how businesses communicate and attract clients.
  • It is a two-way dialogue, not like the old days where you post an ad and that’s it.
  • Only facebook page is not enough. Define your target audience and start using those platforms.
  • Set up a budget for social media and start using it
  • Measure the result of each post, ad and adjust accordingly
  • Do remember it’s not about you, it’s about them
  • Position yourself as an authority on the topic.
  • Create useful, clever #hastags

There you have it. still confused or don’t know where to start? book a 15 minute consultation call absolutely free with our experts, no strings attached.

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