Reach Deep with Facebook
My personal journey through social media.
By Vincent Gutierrez, PT, DPT, cert. MDT
My personal journey with the social networking aspect of physical therapy marketing through social media began with a blog and progressed to Facebook with fascinating and encouraging results.
Recently, I returned to private practice from a hospital outpatient clinic. Anticipating this change, I started an evolving experiment on how to reach the public.
I have had a blog for over two years and experienced growth from 3,843 visitors to 6,960 visitors—this is an 81 percent improvement over the first year. The downside, or upside depending on perspective, is that it was viewed in 62 countries in the current year. This works well for stroking my ego and for educating on a global scale but not well for bringing patients into the clinic. It’s highly unlikely that my readers from Bahrain, Oman, or Albania will ever walk through the door.
With that in mind, I realized that my perspective and goals needed to change. I transitioned from casting a wide net to more of a deep reach. About six months ago, I started a Facebook page to promote myself as a physical therapist. Since initiation, the page has had over 20,000 views on the videos alone. I enjoy writing much more than videos, but video content is “king” as Gary Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) says. These videos have spurred a side project, which is directly correlated to increased visibility in my immediate neighborhood. After starting this project, I was asked to give four community lectures as a direct result of these Facebook videos. Clearly, a clinic’s Facebook page can have the same results and effect.
As professionals, we see social media as an opportunity to reach an audience, educate, and answer questions. There are many people in our own professional community who are doing this well, and they should be recognized. I was fortunate to have a conversation with Paul Gough, and his advice was memorable. He stressed the importance of Facebook and strongly feels that to not use it would be a horrible decision. Unfortunately, there are still physical therapists who are not leveraging the celebrity status that can be afforded through Facebook for free, or at a reasonable price if one is paying for advertising.
There are over 2 billion users worldwide on Facebook, with 214 million users being unique to the United States. About 7 out of every 10 persons in the United States have a Facebook account.1 Facebook, at this point, is the fastest way for us to reach as many people as possible in a short period of time. It is apparent that we need to have a greater presence in the health care–seeking population and cannot depend on other health care providers to advocate for us. Fritz et al. reported that only 7 percent of patients seek physical therapy after an encounter with primary health care providers concerning low back pain.2 This statistic is infuriating! Facebook allows us to educate the overall population about our services—with far-reaching results.
Better than my blog, Facebook created ways in which I, as the content producer, could create a target audience for the information provided. A recent video was shared 22 times with 1,800 views, and this was targeted to my immediate geographic area. These videos, as said previously, are producing requests for speaking engagements in the community. Other than time invested, all of this was free. Many have said that when people know, like, and trust you they will come to you for service. Facebook gives us these opportunities.
How you create content for your business page is entirely up to you. We know that content that delivers a positive emotional experience or is perceived as useful factors into a person’s decision to share content with others.3 For those not familiar with GaryVee, I highly recommend his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.4 This book highlights using social media to build relationships with the consumer by offering a complimentary service prior to asking them to make a purchase. This is not groundbreaking information, as those in sales have done this for years. In our tight circle of health care, though, these concepts are only recently being promoted.
People are already talking on Facebook. As professionals, we can impact how these messages are spread. There are over 40 back pain support groups on Facebook alone! A quick search shows that the largest group has 11,000 members. I am a member of some of the groups in order to dispel some of the myths that I find promoted in the group discussions and to advocate for our profession through education.
As professionals, we have an obligation to educate our consumers through social media.5 As business owners, partners, and managers, we can’t afford not to use social media to attract new patients/customers to our practices.
1. statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users. Accessed January 2018.
2. Fritz JM, Childs JD, Wainner RS, Flynn TW. Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy. Spine. 2012;37:2114-2121.
3. Izawa M. What Makes Viral Videos Viral: Roles of Emotion, Impression, Utility, and Social Ties in Online Sharing Behavior. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University; 2010.
4. Vaynerchuk G. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 2013.
5. Timimi FK. Medicine, morality and health care social media. BMC Med. 2012;10:83.
Vince Gutierrez, PT, DPT, is a PPS member and clinician at Functional Therapy and Rehabilitation in Joliet, Illinois. He serves as Clinical Faculty for Governors State University. He can be reached at email@example.com or movementthinker.org.