Facebook & Your Medical Practice

Man on laptop With the climate becoming harder and harder for small, independent medical practices to survive, marketing budgets are getting tighter and tighter –if not disappearing all together. Yet, ironically, good marketing is essential to keep these practices going and growing. So, what is a small practice to do?! The answer is social media. While social media can be tricky to navigate, and should be used strategically and cautiously, it can be a great asset to a practice. Today, we will focus on Facebook.

Because Facebook is free (like most social media), and requires only a small input of regular staff time, it can be a great option for marketing a medical practice, and building your relationship with patients. A recent article entitled, “Facebook Dos and Don’ts for Your Medical Practice,” on PhysiciansPractice.com, gives 5 great suggestions on why you should keep your practice’s Facebook page separate from your personal Facebook page.

Why You Should Keep Your Friend Page and Practice Page Separate:

1. Facebook doesn’t allow personal pages to be used for business purposes. If you’re using Facebook, follow Facebook’s rules.
2. Friend pages have ceiling limits. Business pages do not. Why limit yourself if you don’t have to?
3. Friend pages don’t offer detailed analytics. Even if you’re not concerned with analytics right now, down the road you will/should be. This can be a helpful goldmine of marketing information and insights into your patient base.
4. Business pages offer inexpensive advertising.
5. If you try and mix your friend and business page, you run the risk of turning-off both friends and patients. Quite simply, it doesn’t look professional and neither patients nor friends are likely to be happy with the results.

Now that we sorted that out, let’s actually get that practice page going!

Post Regularly
Admit it, it looks bad if a business page seems “abandoned,” doesn’t it? To make your page look professional, post regularly. It doesn’t have to be daily, just as long as it’s consistent. Shoot for once a week, to start.

Ideas for Content:
-Tips and suggestions for good health.
-Links to articles relevant to your patients.
-News about your practice: changes in office hours, introduce or highlight new staff, acknowledge employee milestones, highlight services offered, etc.
-Photos of staff and/or office improvements. (You’d be surprised at how much people love photos!)

Risk Management Warning!
We would be remiss if we didn’t caution you strongly about what content you should not post on your practice’s Facebook page. In short, do not violate HIPAA. Never share identifiable patient information or discuss patient cases on your site, etc.

Check Your Page Regularly
Someone in your office should check your page regularly –by this we mean at least daily. Often times, patients may try to use the page to make appointments, ask medical questions, follow-up, etc. Make sure that these requests are followed-up with promptly and appropriately.

If you build it, they will only come if you ask them!
Social media only works if your patients know about it! Provide all patients with a small handout detailing the practice’s name on Facebook (and your other social media) at checkout. On the handout, specifically ask them to “Like” your page to keep up-to-date on the practice. Regarding the warning above, clarify that patients should always contact your office directly (not via social media) regarding personal matters.

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