In today’s digital world, your business’s social media presence isn’t just “extra” marketing activity. It is a powerful way to extend and support your patients. But there is a small catch; utilizing social media strategically, especially for small businesses, can fall far down the list of marketing priorities.
According to Oberlo, there are 3.5 billion active daily social media users worldwide, and that number is only growing. And here is an interesting fact: Users 65 and older are the fastest growing group on Facebook, so having a Facebook business page is a must. But there is crucial information about social media that you should know as a healthcare professional.
Maintaining an active presence on social platforms is a low-cost way to engage with patients and raise brand awareness among prospects. However, don’t treat each social media platform as a stand-alone medium; use all of them together to drive traffic to specific pages on your website.
Choosing the Right Platform(s)
It can be tempting to sign up for every social media platform out there. Instead, pick two to three channels to start with. For the hearing health industry, your target patient is more likely to be found on Facebook than LinkedIn. Depending on any specialties you support or the community you are in, you may have prospects that are more, or less likely to be on platforms like Instagram or Twitter.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s your vision? Your voice?
- What products or services do you offer?
- What’s your message and how can you best convey it?
Keep this in mind: It’s always easier to scale up than scale back, and that includes social media marketing. If you start with too many channels at once, you risk fragmenting your message and not having enough time to devote to each platform. Social media marketing, like digital marketing, is an ongoing work in progress. You’ll always be testing, analyzing and refining. After several months, you may realize a particular social media channel isn’t working for your business. At that point, step away from that channel and pivot to another one.
You may be surprised to learn that there are two major platforms that you probably aren’t utilizing that can easily take your practice to the next level.
YouTube and Pinterest
YouTube can be a very powerful learning tool, as they add a dynamic element to your business. You may feel a little intimidated to create videos yourself but think about all the potential these helpful videos can offer. Video sharing can also provide unlimited opportunities to enhance your business and brand awareness.
Pinterest is not just for home décor and fashion. It is a social platform where people can find inspiration and ideas for their interests and other hobbies. Every idea is represented by a Pin, which is an image that is searched and saved to Pinterest boards. Pins can also link back to websites, which is why Pinterest is great for driving traffic and sales.
Finding Your Audience
As you decide which social media channels to activate, it’s important to understand where your audience spends time. Many social media marketing resources take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. That’s a helpful starting point but paying attention to your customers and prospects is what will help you succeed. If you host any focus groups with members of your target audience, ask a question or two about what social media channels they use and where they enjoy hearing from businesses.
Another tip? Keep a close eye on your analytics. Use Google Analytics to monitor social media traffic to your website. Most social media platforms will also provide built-in insights. Make a point to regularly look at your data, which will not only tell you what type of content is performing well, but also where your audience is interacting with your business.
Consistency is Key
Unforeseen circumstances can prevent you from posting consistently. You’re busy running your business and suddenly it’s been two weeks since you’ve posted on Facebook or any of your other social pages.
On the other hand, you don’t want to post for the sake of posting, which is why so much of social media marketing is about balance. To help ensure a consistent posting schedule, try these two things:
- Gather content before you launch. If you haven’t yet activated your social channels, take a few days to gather content before you go live. Create an easily accessible file on a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive where you can stash photos, videos, and other visual assets. Then, pair those with the holy grail of social media marketing: an editorial calendar.
- Build an editorial calendar. You’re going to be creating a lot of content, including for your social media channels. Building a calendar can help keep you organized and ensure you’re hitting all of your messaging pillars. You don’t need to start with anything fancy — you can build a simple spreadsheet in Excel or in Google Sheets so that you can share it with your team. Include quick content notes on your calendar — do you have products to feature? A sale or promotion to share? If you’re also blogging, you’ll want to be sure to share all your blogs on your social media channels so that you drive people back to your website. If you get stuck creating content, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing. Are there widely used hashtags like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) that you could personalize to your company? Or look up silly national holidays that you can potentially tie into your product or service. Creating social content really does get easier. As you find your groove, you’ll start to see ideas and inspiration all around you.
Put The ‘Social’ in Social Media
No matter your industry or business or what you post, remember this: be conversational. Social etiquette can get lost behind a screen, but at the end of the day, all social media channels are built on conversations. Picture a few members of your target audience as you create content: what do you want to tell them? Avoid constant sales pitches or you’ll quickly be perceived as spammy. And don’t be afraid to show some personality! We’ve talked before about the importance of every business having a story and a voice.
Announcements, contests, helpful tips, articles, and product promotions are all great ways to encourage followers to interact with your business on social media. And whichever platform you’re on, be sure to manage patient feedback — especially negative feedback. This is crucial to maintaining your brand’s reputation, as well as providing your patients with the personal interaction they desire.
An open dialog with your patients could also encourage them to directly raise any problems they may have with your product or service. This is a good thing, as it gives you a chance to resolve such difficulties before they escalate into issues that result in patients taking their business elsewhere.
The more effort you put into engaging your social followers, the more you’ll reap as a result. Your social media channels are the perfect place to show people who your company is, why it exists and why they should do business with you.
Third Party Tools
There’s no shortage of tools to help you manage and optimize your social channels. To track the performance of links in a place besides Google Analytics, try a link shortener like Bit.ly, which will save your links and show you data like clicks, referrers and geographic location.
Management tools like Loomly, Buffer, and Meet Edgar automate functions like scheduling and can be a big help, especially if you’re struggling to find enough time to manage your social media. One note about scheduling: remember what you have scheduled and what it says. If, for example, a national tragedy strikes, it’s a good idea to disable any schedule posts to prevent being perceived as insensitive or dismissive to what’s happening.
To easily create polished graphics that are sized for a specific social platform, try using apps like Canva or WordSwag. For more in-depth photo editing, Snapseed is a robust option (also an app).
Need help? Ask!
There will likely become a point when social media management becomes too much for you or your team. In that case, consider outsourcing your social media marketing to a solo contractor or an agency. You can set up parameters for reviewing content prior to publication or attend regular meetings to discuss strategy and results. Be sure to carefully vet your prospective vendors and, if possible, equip your vendor with brand and messaging guidelines to help ensure consistency. And if you discontinue a vendor’s services, be sure to change your social media passwords ASAP so that you know who has access to your accounts.
Here’s a final tip: if you haven’t yet fully developed your brand and marketing, you’ll want to do that before you dive into social media management. Your social channels should be a reflection and extension of your brand, which is why it’s so important to start with a larger marketing strategy.