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So you are thinking about adding a social media presence to your medical practice….that’s a fantastic move, guess why?

84% of patients start their search for medical help online, so being present in the space where they are searching is one of the most important marketing strategies you can make. But which social media platform is right for your practice and for meeting your ideal patients?

Well, firstly you need to know just which platforms there are available. A short list of the main players that should be considered are:

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat

You’re running a busy medical practice and your primary concern is patient health, so you probably don’t have the time or resources to be on all of these platforms, and that’s ok. Picking one or two of these platforms and doing them well is better than doing them all half-heartedly.

So which one to choose?

Let’s give them a run-down of their primary audience and how they serve the people that are part of their network.

Facebook

Facebook’s primary audience is actually older than you might think. In recent years, the younger adult and teen demographic have shied away from Facebook and are preferring social networks like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Facebook’s primary audience are aged between 25 – 70, so a very broad range of the population are using Facebook. This makes it a perfect network for most practices. Facebook allows you to become a trusted source for your patients, you can provide them with preventative healthcare tips and reminders. Building further trust with your existing patients and giving them the opportunity to easily share your information with their friends and family and putting your marketing into over-drive with social sharing.

If you are willing to put a small budget into advertising on Facebook this is where Facebook wins hands-down. The demographic targeting information that Facebook provides for targeting of ads allows you to only target your advertised content to your ideal patient audience. Allowing you to produce content that will engage and build trust with a new network of laser-targeted ideal patients.

One of the final reasons that Facebook is good, is that it’s easy, you’ve probably already got a Facebook profile yourself, you know how to use it and your feel comfortable with the platform.

Google Plus (Google+)

Google+ is an interesting platform, you may not have heard of it, or if you have heard of it you may not know what to do with it. You are not alone in this thought, Google Plus is Google’s attempt at a social network. It hasn’t really taken off, but can be highly useful for it’s networking groups called Google Communities. Google Plus is probably not the right network if you are looking to broaden your patient audience, it is more for professional networking and content curation.

Google+ allows you to create a Google+ Business page for your practice on which you can also link your Google My Business page (more on that in another post). The primary demographic of the Google+ network is 70% male and they are primarily business owners or there representing a brand.

Google+ is the ideal network for peer networking or if you’re a mentor in your field providing services to other peers. Google+ could be used to grow your client base through networking and providing help in Google+ Communities.

Content on the Google+ social network is found by users becoming part of your communities or by users adding you as a

Twitter

Twitter is a fast paced, quick bite social media platform for provide quick links and information to many people. As it is an open network, anyone can follow you on Twitter. Twitter is great for those that enjoy sharing what they are reading and are happy to be providing regular posting schedules throughout the day. Because of the fast pace of Twitter you need to be willing and able to post often to be seen.

Twitter in Australia as of March 2018 has 3 million active users compared to Facebook’s 15 million. It also has a broad age range in it’s demographic, with around 50% of it’s demographic being aged between 18 – 49 years old.

Twitter is a great second social media platform for sharing out your original content and driving traffic to your other online spaces, such as your website, LinkedIn or Facebook page.

I mentioned earlier that Twitter is for quick bite information, that is because it has a 280 maximum character limit to it’s Tweets (messages or posts). This means that you need to be concise on the information that you are providing and if sharing a URL to another page you will be wanting to use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly.

Twitter’s algorithm is driven by hashtags. These are words with a # sign in front of them. Hashtags are used to group the topic of your tweet into searchable areas. For example, if I was to post this article, I might use the hashtag #socialmedia or #digitalhealth. As a Twitter user, you can follow hashtags and therefore people following either of these two hashtags would have the opportunity to see my post.

Because of hashtag usage, Twitter can be a great place to build your audience as you have the opportunity to be seen by people that may not have heard about you but are interested in your topics based on their hashtag following.

If you have the time, I would recommend having a presence on Twitter that is of mostly curated content (other people’s content) that you comment on and share, along with sharing of any of your own content or articles to drive traffic to your other online channels.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social network for reaching entrepreneurs, small business and peer’s. As of March 2018 LinkedIn had an Australian membership base of 4.3 million users. LinkedIn is a network for highlighting your professional knowledge and developing a solid brand footprint with your peer group.

LinkedIn has a large number of group’s that you can easily join and share you knowledge with others within the groups. Posting and sharing in LinkedIn groups is great for networking and for building your peer network.

If your target audience is professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners then LinkedIn is the perfect and often understated place for building your business.

Instagram

Instagram is an interesting network, once known as the place for sharing your stylised photos, it is now becoming a place of connection and a place to consider growing your network to advertise your business. Facebook has purchased Instagram and have integrated their advertising platform with it. Which means that Instagram has now become more of a marketplace for creatives to showcase their products in creative ways.

Building an instagram following takes time and developing a strong brand on this platform is paramount to being seen. To be seen and relevant on Instagram you want to have a clear branding strategy for your business and know what your ideal client wants to see. But once you do crack the Instagram success it can be a prime place for picking up new clients and showcasing yourself as a trusted professional in your area of practice.

Instagram also works on the hashtag system, using hashtags to categorise your posts and have them be found by those following the relevant posts. Doing your hashtag research is important, you want to pick a list of at least 20 hashtags that suit your brand and use these consistently to build a niche within this market. You will want to drill down beyond the largest hashtags and dig deeper into specific targeted (and largely untapped) hashtags to ensure that your content bubbles to the top and is seen.

Instagram has an audience of 9 million users as at March 2018 with 1 in 3 Australian’s having an Instagram account. Their primary demographic is 18 – 3 4 year olds. With this in mind Instagram should not be dismissed as a place to make your brand and practice present, but I highly recommend that you go into Instagram with a strong brand plan and do your research on what your target audience are interested in and what visual cues they will respond to.

Pinterest

Pinterest once known as the place to build your recipe list or to find out how to decorate your new living room is now becoming a treasure trove for sharing content and reaching a wider audience.

While Pinterest has a relatively small user base in Australia with only 290,000 average monthly users, I believe that this is an untapped market of reaching clients. Pinterest is the place for creating yourself an account and sharing your blog content to encourage other Pinterest users to also Pin your content to their boards. Pinterest can have a viral effect for your content should you be able to pin point (pun intended) the correct keywords and eye catching graphic for your content.

Many Pinterest users will pin content simply based on the pin’s image that has been shared on Pinterest, so coming up with an on-brand, eye catching graphic with text overlay that is to the point on the topic included is key to being successful on Pinterest.

Having a presence on Pinterest doesn’t have to take a lot of time. If you simply remember to share and pin your own content on Pinterest, this is a great start and will bring your some traction in the space and drive organic traffic to your website which will in-turn develop followings to your other social media profiles.

Snapchat

Snapchat is the social network of 10 second videos that self destruct after 24 hours. Snapchat is the social network that most teens are on at the moment. The teen audience has shifted from Facebook to the instant sharing gratification of video and Snapchat is currently at the forefront of this space. To keep up with this video sharing, expiring content trend Facebook and Instagram have both recently released Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories which are a similar idea to Snapchat’s expiring videos.

Snapchat in Australia has an average DAILY user count of 4 million active users. So this network should not be dismissed if your target audience is teens. Snapchat is another fast moving social platform, so you will need to post multiple times per day. The recommended number of snaps is 3 – 4 per day, so every 4 – 5 hours.

As a medical clinician who has a target market in Snapchat’s demographic, having a presence on Snapchat could be seen as being very ‘cool’ and tapping into this market early could give you a lifelong patient relationship. I have heard of success stories with dentists being on Snapchat and sharing funny videos about dental hygiene that reached the younger demographic who then influenced their parents to take them to see this dentist!

To be successful on Snapchat you will need to know your ideal client well and be willing and able to put yourself or someone within you team out there as your brand representative on a regular basis.

In Summary

You don’t need to be on all of them, picking no more than two social media platforms that you know that you can do well and will reach your target market is much better than spreading yourself too thin and doing them all badly.

For most medical clinicians I would say that Facebook is the primary platform for reaching and building a trusted brand with new and existing patients. A daily (or even every 2nd day) posting schedule on Facebook is all that is required to be seen and reach your audience on Facebook. Facebook can also become a platform for providing an extra way for clients to reach you, with it’s Messenger service. Being very clear that you cannot provide medical advice over Facebook is one very important reminder that you should include as an auto-responder on your Facebook pages Messenger service.

Choosing your second platform will depending on who your target client is, how much time you have and how willing you are to put yourself out there. If you are short on time, but have a regular blog posting schedule, I would lean towards Pinterest. If your target client is other businesses or professionals then I would build your presence on LinkedIn by sharing and commenting in groups and connecting with people who are your target client. If you have a strong brand identity already that you feel you can build upon with a fantastic looking Instagram account I would test the waters here.

Finally, always remember to be flexible and agile with your posts, if something is not working or reaching your audience, change it out and try something new. Swap your hashtags around, try some different imagery or try a different network all together. The most important rule of marketing via Social Media is to be VISIBLE! So get out there and give it a go!