Want to connect with more new patients online? Here’s why Facebook might be your medical practice’s new best friend.
As healthcare consumers have become increasingly dependent on the internet when it comes to seeking out medical information and making important decisions about care, expectations and preferences have shifted significantly. While search engines are still arguably the dominant channel of choice for patients on their path to treatment, more and more medical marketers are recognizing the importance of social media when it comes to improving the ROI on their digital campaigns.
For medical practices, Facebook has emerged as the social platform of choice for a number of reasons — some more obvious than others. First, there’s its giant user base; there are more than 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users and 1.18 billion daily active users worldwide (including 167 million daily active users in the U.S. and Canada alone). Furthermore, there were 1.57 billion active users of the platform on mobile as of September 2016, and this number is increasing at a rate of approximately 20%, year-over-year.
Not only does Facebook offer a massive audience, but it also boasts some of the most advanced targeting and tracking capabilities of any digital advertising platform on the market today. In addition to allowing marketers to target ads based on condition affinity and user demographics, when patients engage with an ad (e.g., they “like” or “share” it), Facebook will turn around and serve the same ads to other members of that user’s personal network. Moreover, campaign managers are able to adjust their ad budget at any time — thanks to the social network’s Ads Manager app, campaign performance can be easily tracked and optimized over time, generating better results typically at lower cost to the practice.
Here are a few of the ways in which medical marketers can use Facebook to connect with new patients, grow their practice, and spend less money in doing so.
Build Your Brand
At its most basic level, your Facebook page should serve to supplement your practice’s website as a source of legitimately helpful information for your ideal patient demographics. In addition to basic information like contact details, office hours, and service lines, try to include biographical info about and images of the doctors and other professionals running your practice. Giving your practice a human face will build a meaningful level of trust in potential patients who visit your Facebook page.
Try to inject an additional dose of personality by frequently posting helpful tips and advice in the form of updates, infographics, and interesting links. Opt for content that highlight the expertise and personalities of the doctors, nurses, and other members of staff. Doing so will both encourage online users to engage with your social brand and demonstrate that your practice is up to date on the latest developments in your field.
Even if you have a great Facebook page and are investing time and effort into actively managing it, you’re not going to see much of an uptick in new patients if no one knows it exists. Luckily, all of the digital advertising tools a medical marketer could ever ask for are right there, built into the platform.
Facebook offers four different placement options for its ads — you can opt for them to appear on a user’s Timeline, on their mobile Timeline, on their Instagram feed, and/or in the right column of their facebook browser. Moreover, Facebook recently improved its “Custom Audiences” features, enabling marketers to target specific patient populations by age, location, gender, etc. All of these elements combined make Facebook a seriously powerful marketing engine, in some cases lowing company’s overall cost per acquisition by as much as 73%.
The point is, Facebook essentially has it all: a massive user base, powerful advertising and analytics capabilities, and the ability to humanize your medical brand and build personal connections with prospective and existing patients. With more and more healthcare consumers relying on social media for news, community support, and peer referrals, understanding and investing in social media marketing is no longer a good idea for medical practices — it’s a baseline requirement.