Picking the Right Platform: Using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to Reach Patients

healthcare marketing, facebook marketing, twitter marketing, linkedin marketing

As with just about anything in the past decade or so, medical marketing has changed quite a bit due to technological advances. While some marketing techniques are still carried out in traditional ways, a bulky portion of any effective marketing strategy takes place on social media.

Whether it’s the main platform of a presidential campaign, or a business’ main customer service outlet, services like Twitter and Facebook have strongly impacted marketing, advertising, and communication efforts across the boards.

Learning how to utilize many platforms in a healthcare social media strategy in marketing can be a difficult process, which can often overwhelm practices looking to start up social media pages. Much of the problem is that so many different social media platforms with millions of members exist for practices to use. However, each platform offers slightly different advantages and disadvantages in regards to marketing, and unless you understand which platforms are good for which things before you do them, then you can find yourself in a position where you spent too much time and money on ineffective social media campaigns.

So, in order to save your practice’s time and money you might lose on ineffective campaigns, it is very important to understand how to pick the right platform. Let’s take a look at how practices should go about choosing the right platforms to best reach their current and future clients, and we will also take a specific look at some advantages and disadvantages of three of the major platforms.

1.    Figure out what kind of an audience you are trying to reach.

For most practices, your audience will consist of current and future clients. Each specific practice, however, needs to determine a more specific profile for their “ideal patient” in order to find out where they can best connect with them and how to do so. The ideal patient profile should include things such as demographic info, typical personality details, and their medical goals and interests.

You can determine such a profile by doing a few things. First, you can examine your patient database to gain an idea of the overall demographics you will be reaching out to. Another thing you can do is conduct short surveys with your current patients during their visits, or even by email. The surveys should include questions such as, “Which social media outlet do you spend the most time on?” or “What would be the most convenient way to engage with our practice online?” You can also do things such as examine similar practices with successful social media accounts and review their typical patient profile. 

After you are able to distinguish a decent profile for your ideal patient and determine where they like to spend their time online, you will begin to better understand which social media platforms you should be looking to use.

2.    Establish a set of goals you would like to accomplish using social media.

One of the crucial steps to establishing success with social media is understanding exactly what you would like to accomplish with your social media presence. Depending on your goals with social media, you can better design campaigns and strategies on platforms that can best carry such plans out. For instance, if an optometry practice wants to advertise for the optical items they sell in their shop, they might want to utilize Instagram as a way of showing clients the glasses, lens, and other products they offer.

3.    Match your patient profiles and your goals to the platform that best suits your needs.

Once you know who your ideal patients are, where they hang out online, and what you would like accomplish in regards to connecting with them on social media, you can then choose which platform will work best for your marketing strategies and campaigns. While each and every social media platform has various advantages and disadvantages, here are some quick notes about three of the major outlets:

                  FacebookWith the largest base of members by a very significant margin, Facebook can be both very advantageous and very disadvantageous. With more members, there’s more opportunity for more individuals to see your content, but there’s also much more competition and a large amount of content that might serve to distract or dilute your practice’s content. In addition to the large number of members, Facebook offers just about the best tools for determining your demographic design. Also, Facebook offers comprehensive pay-to-play options, which means you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing by paying more money. This is good as it offers high ceilings for opportunity, but again it can result in the existence of many, many ads that might serve to lessen the visibility of your own advertisements and posts.

            Twitter – Twitter falls very short of the members present on Facebook, but still offers the second most members for any social media platform. The major disadvantageous of Twitter is that exposure can be harder to come by, as you must grow your practice’s page more organically, which is typically through your followers retweeting content. This means that content on Twitter usually needs to be more creative, interesting, humorous, inspiring, and overall more entertaining. Of course, once you establish a large following, Twitter can be among the most effective outlets. Twitter also offers features that benefit more in-depth previews to content such as videos and articles making it easier for members to view content. Twitter serves as a good platform to share stories, videos, and articles regarding your practice’s content, such as blogs that list solutions to problems (for instance, an article that describes 10 natural ingredients to soothe rashes).

            LinkedIn – LinkedIn differs quite a bit from Twitter and Facebook. Its members include two groups. One group is made up of networking and career professionals, and the other group is made up of companies looking to connect with other companies for business purposes. Thus, LinkedIn is most apt for things such as looking for job candidates, looking for contractors to help with projects, actively engaging and connected to other specialized groups in your field, participating in industry-specific discussions, and posting in-depth material showcasing your expertise, such as presentations and medical articles.

4.    Track your results and keep swinging for success!

In order to be certain your practice is using the right platforms to reach patients, you must be able to keep track of the results from your presence on whichever platforms you use. Then, you will be able to measure what strategies, campaigns, and platforms work, which ones don’t work, and what you can do to make them better.

In order to effectively measure your results and keep track of how well your social media presence is working, you should focus on three key aspects of social media presence: Reach, engagement, and leads. Your reach is determined by how many followers you have on a certain page, and how many specific users see your post on that platform. Engagement is the number of individuals who interact with your content when you post it by either commenting on it, liking it, sharing it, following the link, etc. Leads are determined by the number of people which your post reached, and by them interacting with it in some way (such as following a link) they were converted into a new patient or whatever you define a conversion to be for your social media pages.

At the end of the day, there is no definite answer to which platform is the best way to reach your current and future clients. While there are certainly tips and methods that practices typically follow, social media provides practices with vast opportunity to connect and network with their patients. So, as long as you are following guidelines such as the ones provided above, and your social media presence is successful in whichever goals you are aiming to accomplish, then you can formulate a social media strategy that best fits your needs. Such an opportunity for creative and effective marketing is one of the main reasons why healthcare marketing exists as much as it does on social media.  

By Russell McBurnie