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"Making Marketing a Habit" - Effective Social Media Techniques

Friday, October 25, 2013

You have worked hard to build your practice and an online presence. Your site finally matches your clinical guest experience. You have a Facebook page too, so your job is now complete, right?! Unfortunately, many Physical Therapists in private practice fall into this trap - forgetting to "make their marketing a habit." Marketing through social media, whether it is through Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, should be a HABIT; or an ongoing effort to network with your audience on weekly and sometimes daily basis. By remaining current and sending a consistent message that you care through social media, your practice can benefit from customer loyalty and new networking opportunities.

There are several methods that allow Physical Therapists to make their marketing a habit through social media by: regular posting, promoting follower engagement, offering incentive programs, and networking with other local businesses. By focusing on all of these elements, you have the ability to create "mental real-estate," where your followers will think of you first whenever an injury occurs.

1) Post Regularly

A practice's social media page(s) should consistently be updated on a weekly or even daily basis. This shows followers that you are current and innovative - you actually care enough to keep your page up-to-date. However, your social media pages should never focus solely on advertisements. Customer loyalty is not created because a clinic repetitively boasts about being the best. Such a message lacks an emotional tie and eventually becomes boring to the audience. Instead your posts should focus on engaging the audience and promoting conversation on your page.

2) Promote Engagement

Conversation and follower engagement on social media can be promoted by several different ways:

  • Ask your audience questions and allow open conversation between your clinic and others within your group. For example: "What type of stretching exercises do you complete before an early morning run?" Such questions may be simple, but they offer you the opportunity to create an educational follow up post after several answers have been given by others.

  • Offer educational tips and facts to your followers, encouraging them to live a healthier lifestyle and offer advice on how to avoid injury. This shows your followers that you care about them even though they are not currently in treatment. It brings in that emotional tie we focus our guest experience around. Integrating these informational topics into themes such as the holidays or National Physical Therapy month also adds a bit of fun and entertainment to your posts.

  • Ask followers to "like" or share your posts if them found them informative and helpful to increase your clinic's visibility.

  • Be sure to include updated photos and videos often as well as they break up text and make a page more appealing. However, if you plan on including visual elements that include a patient, be sure you have written consent first.

3) Promote Your Page(s) Internally In Your Clinic

Creating a social media page and posting updates as part of your regular routine is a wonderful beginning, but is not sufficient alone for an effective marketing plan. Promote your page(s) within your practice in order to obtain more followers and therefore, better engagement.

  • Post signs around the waiting area asking patients to "like" or "join" your pages.

  • Work with your front desk staff and ensure they introduce your social media page to new patients and offer incentives for joining your network. For example, enter patients who "check-in" at your clinic (an application available on Facebook) into a weekly raffle. Raffle prizes may include small gifts such as a clinic logo-ed T-shirt or water bottle.

  • Offer gift cards to patients at their next visit who offer testimonies on your wall. However, it is suggested to place a maximum allowance of gift cards per person so your page is not cluttered by many posts from one individual, making the testimonies feel un-authentic.

In addition to creating more engagement on your page, each interaction by each patient will act as a referral to their entire social network.

Each time a current patient interacts on your page by offering a positive testimony, "checking-in" to your clinic, or "sharing" and "liking" one of your posts, an update of their activity is sent as an alert to their entire social network, thereby offering your clinic additional visibility. Each activity by a "friend" not only shows the value of your services, but also creates "mental real-estate" in potential client's minds, making you the provider and clinic they think of first when an injury occurs.

4) Business to Business Networking

In addition to focusing on customer loyalty, it is also important to use your social media pages as a way to become more involved within your community. Social media can offer wonderful business to business networking opportunities. Interacting with and following other local businesses and medical referral sources social media can greatly benefit your clinic as more often then not, when you actively participate in another business' page, they will reciprocate the activity. Also invite businesses to local events put on by your practice such as a "Business After 5" program or an open house through your page. This consistent activity and networking creates a foundation of trust and value to other business owners in your area.

Social media can greatly benefit any private practice clinician by offering networking opportunities and the ability to create a customer retention program. Stay loyal to your program and continue to "make your marketing a habit" by: 1) posting regular updates 2) promoting engagement within your page through questions and requests to share/"like" your posts 3) offering incentive programs for patients who participate on your pages and 4) creating business to business opportunities by becoming involved in other businesses' social media. By regularly taking these steps, your clinic will look innovative, fresh and current and gain lifelong customers and ravings fans.



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