By Marie Dahlberg
You see it everywhere – in your waiting room, during consultations, at your weekly staff meetings. People looking down, their eyes fixed on their phones, mindlessly scrolling – but what are they looking at exactly? Most likely, they’re on Facebook, Instagram or any number of other social media sites getting not only status updates from their family and friends, but also advice from companies they trust and information about products they love. Lucky for you, with just a little effort you too can become one of these beloved brands and put your business right in front of them – on their phone and in their social media feeds.
In part one of our series we have tips for building an effective and engaging social media presence for your practice. We’ll teach you how to get started with platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and take your first step into the world of social media.
Step 1: Define your goals.
You would never consider treating a patient that walks into your clinic without first determining what they want to accomplish. It’s the same when approaching social media. Before you take the time to set up a Facebook page or Twitter account, it’s important to determine exactly what you want to accomplish. Do you want to connect with existing customers or gain new customers? Are you trying to gain customer reviews and feedback or book more appointments? Having a clear idea about what you want to accomplish is the first step to building a strategy that will help you achieve your goals.
Step 2: Build your social media team.
Some days, it may seem like you barely have enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee let alone spend time scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Before you even start setting up your social strategy, you’ll need to determine exactly how much time you are able to personally commit to maintaining your pages each day. If you don’t have time to dedicate to social media (and let’s face it, most of us don’t!), it’s time to start building your team.
There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right person to maintain your social media pages.
· Choose someone with a solid understanding of you and your practice who will present your brand in a way that is in line with your mission.
· Consistency is crucial so whoever is in charge of your social pages has to have the initiative to maintain a consistent schedule.
· Poor copy will have people scrolling right on past your social media posts when they appear in their newsfeeds. Choose someone with strong writing skills who can create copy that will keep fans engaged.
Step 3: Find the social platform that’s right for you.
Now that you have your team of influencers assembled, it’s time for research. Before you jump right in to creating as many social pages as possible, it’s important to do background research on the different social platforms that are available. Facebook continues to be one of the most popular platforms; according to the Pew Research Center’s 2016 Social Media Update, 79% of internet users are on Facebook and 68% of adults in the United States use Facebook. While only 32% of internet users are on Instagram, 59% of these users are between the ages of 18 and 29.
Pew Research Center – Facebook Remains the Most Popular Social Platform
It’s important to consider this data and how it aligns with your practice and your goals. For example, if most of your patients are over the age of 30, Facebook is a great way to connect with them because it is most likely their platform of choice. If you’re looking to expand your business to a younger demographic under the age of 30, Instagram is the most useful tool for reaching this age group. These are important aspects to consider when choosing where to represent your business. Other platforms to consider include Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Snapchat, all with a different set of benefits and drawbacks.
If you decide to set up profiles on multiple platforms, it’s important to maintain consistent branding. Your business name, logo and mission statement should be constant across all platforms so that your patients can find you no matter which platform they are using. While each page does not have to be identical, it is very helpful for users if they look similar.
Step 4: Gather the tools your team will need.
No matter which platform you choose, your social page will never get off the ground if you don’t have the right tools to manage it. Nowadays, social media is more than simply sharing funny or engaging photos, sitting back and seeing what happens. There are a wealth of tools and data that you and your team can use to measure success, test content and gain insights into your audience.
First, become familiar with Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics. Both of these services are free and available to you when you set up your profiles. They not only allow you to see how many likes, comments and shares your posts gain, but they also provide data about the ages, interests and locations of your fans. This data allows you to create customized content that is relevant for your audience.
FB Dashboard Example 1
Twitter Dashboard Example 2
Next, consider utilizing a social media platform to manage your pages. For a monthly fee, services such as Sprout Social allow you to schedule posts on multiple pages, gather reports on the performance of your pages and see current trends among social platforms. Other platforms such as Hootsuite allow you to monitor multiple social pages at once to help streamline your process and save your team time.
FB and Twitter Page Performance Example 1
Alright, you’ve done the leg work, considered all your options, made your choices and set up your pages. The next step to building a strong social presence is to start creating incredible content. Stay tuned for part two of our series to learn how to do just that.