Five Steps to Impact Your Business Through Social Media

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Social media can be a powerful tool for getting new patients, keeping in touch with old ones, and increasing overall market value.

By Michael Lau, SPT, CSCS; Craig Lindell, SPT, CSCS; and Arash Maghsoodi, SPT, CSCS*

Have you been told that social media is vital to your practice, but don’t know where to start? Does your practice need to expand its reach to get new patients and clients? Are you interested in promoting your brand online, but unsure how to go about it?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re not alone. The game has changed; the times of relying solely on physician referrals are long gone, and savvy private practice owners have begun seeking additional patient streams like social media.

Over 78 percent of the US population has a social media network profile.1 With the exponential technological advances of the last 20 years, society’s first option for seeking medical advice is often through the internet. It’s hard for the average person to sort through the boundless heaps of information online, let alone know whether to trust the accuracy of the information. As physical therapists in a rapidly changing health care system, we need to position ourselves at the forefront as an immediate go-to source for those in pain or with musculoskeletal issues and showcase what our amazing profession can do for society.

We identified this lack of public awareness as a barrier for our profession to truly impact society, so we set out to utilize the power of social media to bring awareness and share the value of physical therapy with the public. In less than a year, the three of us (as full-time doctor of physical therapy students) launched and grew our brand, which has amassed a combined following of over 130,000, with a weekly reach of over 500,000 individuals.

Social media can be a powerful tool when utilized properly with the right content for getting new patients, keeping in touch with old ones, and overall increasing one’s market value. In this article, we’ll break down the top five essentials to help initiate your business journey on social media to keep up with the changing landscape of physical therapy and health care.

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Content is king!
Social media is completely driven by content. Everyone is marketing on social media, but very few are doing it well. The 3 E’s of content development2 should be the backbone of every post to maximize your reach.

Your posts need to be:

1. Engaging. Every social media platform is based on tons of content in a scroll-through user interface. This means your potential customer is swiping through their feed, viewing hundreds of different accounts and their respective content very quickly. You are just one in a sea of hundreds! You need to make content that will catch the attention of and then will engage your audience.

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2. Entertaining. To keep your audience invested in your site or platform, there must be an element of entertainment. Your content needs to be funny, unique, or discussion provoking. Physical therapy has a medieval reputation of boring ultrasound, quad sets, and ice because—let’s face it—our marketing and practices for the past several decades have demonstrated just that! We know how awesome physical therapy is, and how personable and funny we therapists can be. Social media is the perfect platform to show the world how physical therapy transforms society and improves the way you move. If you want to stand out, then make your content stand out by adding some flavor to your average exercise! We’re in the business of physical therapy: What’s more exciting and entertaining than watching a patient go from bed rest to running again?

3. Educational. Patients and clients appreciate physical therapists because we educate in a language that most people can understand. Our psychosocial and communication skills in the clinic get patients to buy in. Your online audience is no different; they need to feel that they took something away from your post. Once they see the value you provide in teaching them something new, they will come back thirsty for more. Only once credibility and trust are achieved should you begin to “softly promote” your business.

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Identify Your Target Audience
Chances are that your potential customer is spending a fair amount of time on social media. There are 3 billion active internet users, and 2.1 billion have social media accounts!2 This is your opportunity to market directly to your future patients. But first, you must identify your target audience. More specific than just future patients, what type of potential patients do you want to target? High school athletes? Crossfit athletes? Runners? Women’s health? Finding your target population will help you develop content specifically geared toward your audience.

Your audience will identify with your content. If your target audience is high school athletes, gear your content toward them. You can do this in a multitude of ways, whether it be showing some of your patients who are high school athletes in videos, posting photos of your clinic volunteering at a local high school football game, or writing an article on how to best utilize one’s sports talents to get a college offer. Match your content to the interests of your target audience.

Furthermore, match your clinic’s strengths and most appealing assets to your target audience. If your clinic has a stellar anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) prehab class for youth soccer players, you should showcase it across all your social media platforms!

Remember to write content in a language that works for your target audience. Unless your audience is well versed and educated in physical therapy, don’t go overboard on the science! Do you expect your target audience of high school athletes to understand information presented using graduate-level jargon? Your information is only as good as its readability and comprehension.

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Don’t Let Social Media Take Over Your Life
Time is the most precious commodity and no one has enough of it. You most likely wear the multiple hats of business owner, spouse, parent, friend; you can’t let social media take over the rest of your life and edge out your day-to-day activities. Here are some strategies we use to minimize the amount of social media work we do on an everyday basis:

1. Drip your content. Dripping essentially means putting in the time and effort once to create content that can be used in a multitude of ways. For example, it’ll take each of us a few hours to write a featured article on our website. That one article is then turned into five or six separate video posts that we share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

2. Frontload your content. In other words, do it all at once. The three of us meet once every few months and get over 50 videos filmed in one session. Save yourself the hassle and devote an entire day toward making content. Plan out your content well in advance; that way when you finally sit to down to write, film, and shoot, it’s a streamlined process.

3. Recycle your content. Don’t be afraid to reuse your old material, as on average only 15 percent of your social media following will see your posts! We repost old Instagram videos that may have only gotten 3,000 views the first time, but may get over 25,000 on a second share! The best part about recycling is that we don’t have to put any extra work into producing that video, content, and reach!

4. Automate your content. Countless apps are available to automate all of your social media posting so you don’t have to be attached to your phone 24/7. We use “Buffer” for all our accounts. Each weekend, one of us spends 20 minutes setting up all of the posts for the entire week. You can customize posting schedules for all your different social media platforms. If you already have a lot of content, or a lot of affiliate content, try looking into “MeetEdgar,” which will automatically recycle your content.

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Be Patient, and the Business Will Follow
Patience is key. It took us over two months to gain 1,000 followers, 5 months for 10,000, and now, 12 months in, we have over 95,000 on Instagram alone. Our mission from the beginning has been to change lives and show individuals how physical therapy should be their first option when they experience pain. We joined this profession to help others and transform society. Our goals on social media are to empower individuals to take control of their own health and advocate for the profession. That will always be priority number one over making a quick buck, and we recommend other practices to follow this same mentality if they wish to find similar success on social media. By keeping this in mind, it has allowed us to build value in the eyes of those online, and the business has simply followed.

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Have Fun!
We cannot stress this point enough. Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your clinic out there and step out of your comfort zone. Show off your clinic’s personality! This is how your audience will become invested into your platform. Be warned, there will always be naysayers and negativity online, especially as success increases, but don’t let it get to you. Be professional in your engagement with individuals online; your conversations and comments are viewable by anyone.

References

1,2. U.S. population with a social network profile 2016 | Statistic. Statista. www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/. Accessed February 2, 2017.

2. Fung B. The three “E”s of excellent content. UpDoc Media. https://updocmedia.com/the-three-es-of-content/. Published January 29, 2016. Accessed February 2, 2017.

The Prehab Guys are a group of doctor of physical therapy candidates and strength and conditioning specialists whose mission is to optimize human movement and performance, promote longevity, and keep your movement system in tune. We hope to instill new meaning into physical therapy and demonstrate to the public the value that physical therapists can provide. We can be found at www.theprehabguys.com as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @ThePrehabGuys. If you have any questions or comments, please email us directly at theprehabguys@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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