When was the last time you posted something to your Facebook page? Not your personal one but the one that you set up (years ago?) for your healthcare practice. Maybe you got a friend to do it for you or perhaps you simply haven’t gotten around to doing the “social media thing”.
Whether you’re a sceptic or your page is gathering cyber dust, it is worth taking (another) look at building a following on Facebook.
Why should medical or healthcare practitioners be on Facebook?
There are many reasons why having a presence on the world’s biggest social platform is a good idea. To begin with, 6 in 10 Australians are on Facebook. The majority of these users (over 10 Million) are in the 25 - 55 age bracket.
Healthcare consumers are very active on social media. Joining them is an opportunity to reach them and engage with them outside of the consulting room.
This goes for both existing patients as well as new or prospective patients. Which brings me to reason number two.
Research shows 47% of internet users search online for information on doctors and other healthcare professionals. If you want to grow your practice you can’t afford to ignore the platforms where your target audience is active.
Health Professionals are among the most trusted people in society. There is only one category we trust more. Our friends. Facebook being a social network is effectively “word of mouth on steroids". We read reviews and testimonials but there is nothing we value more than our friends' opinions when it comes to following recommendations. In digital marketing terms we call this social proof. Being an active participant on FB enables you to reap these type of benefits.
Building a social media following takes time and effort. This is all too often the stumbling block for busy practitioners. If you want to be successful on FB it makes sense to have a social media plan and follow a posting schedule.
Many practitioners are, understandably, fearful of outsourcing this and as result they never gain momentum and eventually abandon their Facebook efforts all together.
The good news is that with some planning and preparation you can outsource many of the tedious tasks and still retain control over what gets posted and monitor the conversation with minimal effort required on your part.
The other potential downside is that you and any of your team members who are involved in managing your page understand the National Medical Board’s social media policy as well as the guidelines for advertising regulated health services.
So what do I post?
In a nutshell, anything that is of interest to your patients or customers. Simple. Yet, it does require spending some time to define what type of information they are most likely to want to read.
For example, if you are a podiatrist who has a specific interest in treating the feet of long distance runners, you may want to post articles on this topic. You don’t need to write all these articles yourself (although I am a strong proponent of publishing your own articles as well). You can use curated content if you prefer or a combination of the two.
Other relevant content may include, general updates, reminders about seasonal vaccines or information about epidemics going around, preventative measures people can take etc.
The guidelines for advertising regulated health services stipulate that the practitioner is responsible for what is posted on their social media account. This also includes content that was not originally written or posted by you or your practice. Reviews fall within this category and FB does not give you the option to remove reviews. Given that penalty range from up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for a body corporate it may be prudent to simply disable reviews.
Whether or not you are a fan of Facebook, the fact is that 6 in 10 Australians are active on the platform. It therefore makes sense for your business to have a healthcare content plan and a presence on social media.
It is true that maintaining a social media profile can be time consuming but, with basic planning, practitioners can outsource much if not all of the required tasks.