Social Media in the Health Care Industry

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By Christine Towey*

For many people social media is how they keep up with friends and family. It’s how they stay in touch with people who live in different states, and even countries. So why not, as a health care company, tap into this market and become like a person they keep up with? Social media may have been created for personal use, but it’s now been cracked wide open for businesses to utilize as well. By giving your health care company a social media presence, you are able to stay in the minds of former patients, advertise services to current ones, and engage potential patients. When someone likes or follows your page, it shows up in their newsfeed along with all the other people they follow and like. So, without much effort, you can directly advertise to them.

This doesn’t mean that you constantly have to push your business in a direct way. Social media is all about sharing, so share company updates, share funny health care–related jokes, share the latest cute video. Whatever puts you front and center in their newsfeed at least once daily is what’s important. You don’t want to inundate your patients with content every minute, but just remind them that you still exist and are available to them as need be. Postings can also link back to website content, which allows you to show them even more of what your company offers.

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A great way to do this is by blogging on your website. Blogging lets you speak in a more casual tone and cover topics that can vary greatly. A broader topic may expand your professional reach in areas outside of physical therapy alone. For example, take physical therapy and the famous singer, Ciara. These two things don’t seem related at all, right? However, through blogging about Ciara and her pregnancy, we are able to share how physical therapy during a pregnancy can help relieve pressure and discomfort. Using examples of techniques such as kinesio taping with a baby belly, we are able to marry the topic of pregnant pop singers with health care. Have any other ideas that come to mind now? The possibilities are endless. You could blog about marathon running, brownies that are guilt-free, the holidays, and many more. All you need is to create a link between your company’s services and the topic. Get creative, have fun with it.

At my practice, we have four main social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This allows us to reach multiple audiences, demographics, and content types. Take, for example, Facebook. It is a good use of “mixed media” as I like to call it. Facebook posts can contain writing, photos, or a mixture of both. You can easily experiment and see what works best for your company. For us, the best mix has been 3 to 5 sentences of writing, with a visual that links to our website or blog. This allows us to not only grab our patient’s attention, but lead them to our website and potentially convert them into a patient. Instagram is all about visuals, Twitter is about short amounts of content, and LinkedIn is another mixed media account. It may seem unnecessary to use all these platforms, but each one really speaks to a different type of user. Older demographics are more likely to use Facebook, whereas teens love Instagram and Twitter. In order to reach your max potential of consumers, it’s imperative to use the social media they use.

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Have I overwhelmed you yet? Are you asking yourself how you can be posting to all these different sites daily without losing your sanity? Fear not. There is an answer to this that will have you breathing a huge sigh of relief. Meet Hootsuite. Hootsuite is an online platform that allows you to control all your social media from one place. Think of it as your social media headquarters. It allows you to post on all your media accounts at the same time, schedule out posts, monitor your different feeds, and even create geotags so you know when people are posting about keywords related to your business. Pretty cool, huh? All these tools bundled into one place are really beneficial to you. Streamlining your social media lets you condense the work into one place and save time. I would highly recommend getting a Hootsuite account, and watching all their free educational videos. They break down their tools and give you the skills necessary to utilize them to their max.

Yes, this is a lot to take in and decipher, but know this: By adding social media to your marketing plan, you are opening wide a door that you won’t regret. Social media accounts are free, so this is free marketing to your patients, in a way they respond to positively. You’re not having to pay for a direct mailer, or a banner, you’re literally reaching them as directly as you can, for free. You will know if your content is striking a chord with them immediately through likes and follows. No surveys needed, no focus groups, just plain old likes and hearts. Who would have ever guessed it could be that simple?

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Christine Towey is a digital marketing specialist for IRG Physical & Hand Therapy based in Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at christine.towey@irgpt.com.

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