Take Your Social Media Presence from Zero to 100 in Five Steps
The building blocks for getting your business going on social media.
By Erica Vossen
From small photography companies to nationwide chain restaurants, businesses in every industry are taking advantage of social media to boost their brand and bring in more customers. In fact, 73% of surveyed marketers claim that social media is somewhat effective or very effective as part of their marketing strategy.1
The physical therapy industry notoriously falls behind in marketing through social media. With 60-83% of internet users seeking health information online,2 social media provides a great opportunity to build up your reputation, create brand awareness, and engage with current and past patients. This article serves as an introduction to establishing your business’s social media strategy in five simple steps. For a more in-depth discussion on selecting social media audiences, aligning with audience personas, and developing a data-driven social media strategy, see this issue’s Deep Dive feature on page 28, “A Framework for Social Media Success,” by Karen Litzy, PT, DPT.
STEP 1: CREATE PROFESSIONAL, DETAILED PROFILES
First, select the right kind and number of platforms for your goals. Be mindful of how much time and effort you can put into your pages; you can always add more platforms after you establish a posting schedule and adjust to maintaining your profiles. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn are great platforms to start.
Make a detailed, professional account for your selected platforms. Be sure to create a business profile, rather than a personal page, which grants you added features to enhance market strategies. The business profiles on Instagram enable you to see the number of visits, the percentage of visits from non-followers, website clicks, and overall impressions.
Include your clinic name, address, phone number, website, email address, etc. where appropriate. With limited space in your biography, prioritize action items such as a website link or a phone number to call. Use professional, properly formatted pictures for your profile and header images, perhaps depicting your logo, clinic, or staff. Remember that a quick glance at your page provides a lasting first impression.
STEP 2: HAVE A SPECIFIC GOAL IN MIND
Too often marketing activities are left unmeasured and expectations are never set. Establish an overarching goal as well as quarterly targets for your social media activity. This will allow you to measure the results of your activity and tailor your daily social media efforts toward this goal. Some possible goals include the following:
- Increase your number of followers
- Increase engagement (more likes, comments, shares, etc.)
- Increase patient leads (more website visits from social media pages)
- Increase engagement with current and past patients
Assessing the ROI (return on investment) for social media efforts can be a challenge, especially if your primary goal is increasing followers or engagement with current and past patients. By zeroing in on a specific goal, you can experiment to find what brings optimal results and better determine how much time and energy should be dedicated to social media over other marketing efforts. Make sure your goal is measurable, whether it is number of followers, average amount of likes per post, or survey responses to gauge if social media led a patient to your clinic. By assessing your goals and results monthly or quarterly, you can fine tune your budget for social media efforts.
STEP 3: CREATE A POSTING SCHEDULE
Posting haphazardly yields minimal results and frustrates growth. Instead, create a schedule to streamline planning and maximize results. Decide the frequency of posts that you think is sustainable, perhaps one post per day for three to four days a week. Also note that there are peak traffic times on social media, which may help optimize your impressions. According to Sprout Social,3 Wednesday in the late morning and Friday afternoon are peak social media usage times. With this in mind, a sample schedule might look like the following:
- Monday: Community involvement or clinic news
- Wednesday: Educational information, treatment tips, or physical therapy news
- Thursday: Introduce your therapists and employees
- Friday: Highlight a patient’s success story or post a “graduation” picture (with express written permission)
You could also post about clinic resources or specialty highlights. Is there a therapist certified for dry needling at your clinic? Did you recently acquire a new stationary bike? Perhaps you occasionally post about added sterilization practices to ease patients worries post-pandemic. Add variety by sharing posts from other pages, such as educational articles or shout-outs for your referral sources.
STEP 4: MONITOR YOUR CONTENT AND VOICE FOR EACH PLATFORM
Keep in mind that some content might be more suitable for some platforms than others. For example, moderately long introductions of employees might work better on Facebook than Twitter, which has a strict character limit. Additionally, posts on LinkedIn should be professional and geared more toward networking.
Across all accounts, make sure to use a consistent voice that reflects your company culture. If your clinic prides itself on a warm, inviting atmosphere, express that same congeniality in your tone on social media. Again, this may vary from the more informal tone on Instagram to the more professional angle on LinkedIn, but there should still be consistency within one platform and uniform adherence to your professionalism and company culture on all of your social media pages.
STEP 5: GO BEYOND POSTING
This is what turns a mediocre, semi-engaging social media page into a flourishing opportunity for building your reputation. Engaging with your audience beyond posting communicates that you are an active clinic invested in your patients and their outcomes. Respond to messages and inquiries you receive through social media in a timely manner. You can also respond to comments on your posts, creating a more personal connection between patients and your clinic. If you receive negative feedback, be sure to address it publicly in a professional manner and message the person privately if appropriate to rectify the situation.
Brainstorm ways to expand your audience on each account, especially through broader hashtags. Instead of simply #physicaltherapy, try things like #sportsmedicine, #athlete, or #recovery. Take advantage of larger events to reach a broader audience as well, such as #earthday or #superbowl.
Hashtag and tagging campaigns can drive patient engagement with your social media. Ask past patients to tag your page in their posts when appropriate. Consider a drawing or competition to motivate patients to like, follow, and tag your clinic. Promote these competitions with posters in your office or posts online and watch your follower base and brand awareness increase nearly effortlessly.
From these starting points, the marketing opportunities are endless and will grow your social media presence. Beginning with professional business profiles on a few platforms, you can reach goals through a regular posting schedule. By keeping your posts uniform in voice, appropriately tailored to the platform, and broadly labeled with widely used hashtags, you will build up a reputation that draws in new patients and builds loyalty with old patients. Engaging with comments and inquiries elevates your social media presence and enhances your reputation. Implement these simple social media maintenance habits and you will be well on your way to leveraging social media as a major part of your marketing strategy due to its affordability and measurable results.
1State of Social 2019 Report. Buffer Website. https://buffer.com/state-of-social-2019.
2Knight E, et al. Physical therapy 2.0: leveraging social media to engage patients in rehabilitation and health promotion. Phys Ther. 2015;95(3):389-96. doi:10.2522/ptj.20130432
3The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2020. Sprout Social Website. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/.
Erica Vossen is a freelance technical writer based in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached at email@example.com.