Using Social Media to Drive New Patients

Social Media Targeting

Due diligence and consistent attention are the keys to success.

By Alex Strauch, BS*

Social media, love it or hate it, is vital for a growing business in today’s environment.

While it sometimes seems like just another item on your already long checklist, social media plays an important role in keeping in touch with former patients and solidifying your brand. And while reconnecting with a former patient is easily done and can be enjoyable, we all know the more difficult endeavor is driving new patients to help your practice grow. Thankfully, technology has evolved on these platforms to include targeting advertisements, post boosting, and ease of organizing your content. Combining all the tools available, along with consistent content output, will help you start gaining new patients with strong brand engagement in no time!

Building Content on Your Platforms

Before diving into targeted advertisements or boosting your posts on Facebook, you need to take a step back and put yourself in the patient’s shoes. When you happen upon a page that includes only a few recent posts and photos without captions along with outdated information or posts, does that look appealing to you? Would you put your trust in this brand?

By keeping an updated page full of fresh content, your advertisements and targeting will be far more effective. Users tend to view the appearance of the page as well as the content, so improving your social media image will leave a good impression on potential patients. Even if they don’t schedule an appointment or consultation, they might stick around for your content, give your page a “Like,” and potentially use your services down the line.

Keeping this in mind, how do we go about creating this valuable content and what platforms should we use? Consider an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Each serve different demographics, which helps you tailor your content and frequency of posting.

Facebook tends to have older demographics. Ideal posting time is between 1 and 4 p.m., and you will typically benefit from two or three posts per week. You want to focus on the personality of your brand and staff, services offered, and general news at the practice. Informational topics or health tips also do very well for establishing yourself as a valuable follow.

Twitter has a younger user base. Ideal posting time is between 1 and 3 p.m. and you should aim for three to five posts per week. Usually quick updates about the practice do well. Make sure you leverage hashtags to gain visitors outside your follower list. Also, use retweets to your advantage; sharing interesting content like fitness videos or health articles can help increase your presence and only takes a minute!

Instagram is like Twitter, only the posting frequency is much less with only one or two posts per week recommended. Since it’s an entirely visual platform, you want to focus on things like patient testimonials, personality images of your staff, and videos highlighting techniques.

Overall, video content and images are most effective at pulling engagement and making your page look alive. Looking at it statistically, having an image or video can increase engagement by 300 or 500 percent compared to a post with just text. Make social media a communal effort, incorporating your therapists, aides, and front desk staff to really help bring out the personality of your practice. This also makes it something your team looks forward to, rather than seeing it as a job.

Targeting New Patients

Now that your pages are looking good and you’re regularly posting, it’s a good time to start creating ads. Instead of casting a wide net, reaching those who aren’t even remotely interested in physical therapy, focus on a small spend with a targeted audience. To get the most value there are a few techniques, specifically for Facebook, that will help you gain more patient visits.

First, install Facebook Pixel to your website and start retargeting those who visited your site. Facebook Pixel is a great service that essentially tracks those Facebook users who have previously visited your website, allowing you to create ads based on their activity. By targeting those who have already expressed interest in your services, you will see stronger engagement by reaching these users rather than complete strangers. Keep in mind that this audience might have already seen other ads or posts from your practice, so create content specifically in mind for converting these people on the fence.

What about those who aren’t aware of your practice? This is where you can start showing ads to local prospects through audience targeting. Facebook allows you to target individuals based on location, job titles, age, gender, interests, and much more. Since we want to drive local traffic, focus on targeting your zip code or also the zip codes adjacent to yours. Once you have decided on the location you can narrow down the age range and research what those age groups are interested in. If you’re stuck, try using the Facebook Audience Insight Tool to glean information about your existing demographics.

The goal with targeting is narrowing your audience; this in turn drives marketing costs down and improves your profitability by reaching qualified patient leads. To get started with advertisements, first target those who already like your page for a reactivation push. This also keeps the stakes low as you will have more success with a reactivation campaign as opposed to targeting unknown users.

Social media is an effective tool for interacting with your patients, making new fans of physical therapy, and driving patient visits. All that is required is some due diligence and consistent attention. Beyond that, it’s about stretching your reach to those unaware of the awesomeness of your practice.

Alex Strauch, BS, is a digital marketing manager with Practice Promotions. He can be reached at

*The author has a vested interest in this subject.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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