Getting the Word Out About Physical Therapy with Facebook

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Educate the public and build the credibility of not just your practice but physical therapists everywhere.

By Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT, CEO*

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” —William James

It is crucial for private practice owners to get the word out in order to help more people. Historically, we have been very passive in this regard, relying largely on physicians and other health care providers to tell people about us and direct patients to us. Advertising directly to consumers was considered arduous and expensive. But that is definitely no longer the case. Odds are that you are holding in your hand, or in your purse or pocket, a tool that has the potential to reach millions of people, virtually anywhere you choose.

Every tool has its use, and social media is no exception. And while there are a few dozen social media tools in use around the world, nobody does it quite like Facebook. For reaching potential patients there is no other tool as inexpensive, with as broad a reach, and as effective.

While Twitter has over 300 million users worldwide, and LinkedIn just over 100 million users, Facebook has 1.87 billion active monthly users, with 1.15 billion active daily users on mobile. One billion of those people are also on Facebook Messenger. And a staggering one in five page views on the web happen on Facebook.1

In 2016, 78 percent of the U.S. population had a social media profile of some sort, with 63 percent of North America’s population on Facebook. And this is only growing.2 Of the nearly 360 million people who live in the United States and Canada, over 223 million are on Facebook.3

Whoa! That’s a lot of statistics. So what do all these numbers mean? They mean that your next patient is most likely using Facebook, and the odds are that they are using it today. And it’s never been easier to reach them.

If you do not already have a Facebook page for your business, you can search “how to set up a business Facebook page.” There are many great videos and step-by-step guides to walk you through it. If you haven’t yet taken this step, don’t be intimidated. It literally takes minutes. The only catch is that you have to have a personal account to create a page, which is easy to set up.

Once you have a page up and running, you will want to add some content. Do you have any upcoming events, photos of your clinic and your team, or articles that you really like and think would be useful for patients and people in your community? Post some of those. You can even schedule some to publish later if you get carried away with too many.

Invite some of your friends to like and follow your page. Focus on people in your area or who are connected to your community, because this can be the start of building and reaching your desired audience.

Keep posting useful content. This does not mean you have to do a lot of writing or research. One of the easiest ways is to “Go Live” from your mobile device. Going live is a quick and easy way to record video content that will not only broadcast in real time, but will also publish to your page and remain there. Just start a post and then tap Go Live. It will ask you to describe your video. You can edit this later. And then tap the Go Live button again. You are now live on Facebook.

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Some people will see the camera in their face, and they will freeze up. So have a plan and be sure to have a release to have the permission to feature patients online. Plan to answer a question your patients ask you repeatedly. Talk about back pain, motor control in toddlers, proper pitching mechanics, or the latest greatest pedal. Talk about your passions, the things that you get excited about and that you love to share with people. It will come across in the video. And if you mess it up, you can delete it. Take a Mulligan (a second chance) and do it over.

Organic reach for business pages has been greatly curtailed by Facebook recently. For static posts—photos, text, and events—you will need to “boost” your posts to get much reach. That means you have to pay to have your posts placed in people’s Facebook feeds. But you can define your audience and often reach hundreds of people for only $3-$5. The more people like and share your content, the greater the reach. But the “Go Live” videos are a great way to hack that pay to play scheme. Facebook wants more people using this feature, so the algorithms for distribution are more favorable for you than text and photo posts. Without “boosting,” I’ve had live videos reach hundreds and even exceed 1,000 views with no money spent.

Stacey Raybuck Schatz on her Facebook page for Professional Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine posted her first Go Live video in September 2016 and has had over 2,500 views. Travis Robbins of Robbins Physical Therapy got over 450 views of his Go Live video in three days. Lee Sowerbutts of Village Golf & Physical Therapy Center got over 200 views in four days for his video promoting a back pain workshop in his clinic. None of these people and their practices are located in tech hubs. They are all over the United States gaining unprecedented exposure for their practices and the profession of physical therapy.

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And while exposure is good, don’t forget the endgame here. You ultimately want to drive more new patients to your practice so you can help more people. To do that, you must have an offer and a call to action. Hold workshops and teach what you know. Facebook is a great place to tell people about your upcoming workshops and to get people to call your clinic and register. Or are you doing a talk in the community? “Go Live” on Facebook to tell people where you will be and what you’ll be talking about. Then invite them. You have to tell them what action you want them to take next.

Another advantage of Facebook is that many of your private practice colleagues are there, as well. There are some great groups of physical therapists who are sharing and willing to help each other. An easy way to find these groups is to go to your physical therapist friends’ profiles and see which groups they belong to.

Join the cause and get the word out about you, your practice, and what you can do to help people. Grab that device we all look at too much and put it to good use for yourself, your patients, and your profession. In doing so, you are helping the entire profession through educating the public and building the credibility of not just your practice but physical therapists everywhere. And that is the best way to help as many people as possible.

References

1. Top 15 valuable Facebook statistics, https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/. Accessed March 2017.

2. www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/. Accessed March 2017.

3. www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm. Accessed March 2017.

Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT, CEO, is a physical therapist, business coach, and advisor who can be reached at www.SturdyMcKee.com or @Sturdy.

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

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