Facebook in healthcare - Can it really get you new patients?

You're a healthcare professional grounded in science and anatomy and clinical evidence. Facebook is a social media platform filled with cute animals and mildly humorous memes. It's no wonder that there is some apprehension about whether Facebook really can add value to your business and even grow your client base (and revenue!).

The proof, however, is definitely in the pudding. There certainly is a good reason that so many businesses invest a significant amount of time, money and resources into Facebook to get their information out there and have potential customers engaging with their content. You don't even have to spend money. Here are 5 of the many ways Facebook can start working in your clinic for free right now:

1. Want to showcase a treatment you have available? Got a new diagnostic gadget you want to show off that's superior to what is currently out there? Write about it in a Facebook post. You can be as descriptive as you'd like, talk about your excitement and enthusiasm for how it will impact your patients and their clinical outcomes and share photos on it all without making people feel like they're being confronted by direct, targeted marketing - which they may well be. Because the post is shared with those that like your page (and friends and family of you, the business owner, if you share it on your personal page), it has the potential for a great reach throughout your local community which is likely near where your clinic is located. If post has interaction (likes/shares/comments) it will reach even more people, people may tag their friends if they think a treatment or tool could help them, and this piece of information can continue to be shared until it reaches those who may well be after exactly what you're offering. Moreover, it gets your name out there, so the next time someone is after a service that you offer and they search for it, your clinic can strike a familiar chord. And that's just the beginning.

2. Have you been helping countless patients go from tendon tears to completing marathons in record time? Seen painful chronic injuries that have persisted for years halve in the level of discomfort after your treatment? Or simply helped Susan get rid of that annoying little twinge she had in her neck? Regardless of how big or small, Facebook is a perfect platform to show positive patient outcomes, with the patients' permission of course. You don't even need to use names. Describing a patients symptoms and the measures you took that helped them is something that others can relate to. They can relate to the pain, discomfort and potential dissatisfaction with limited results they may have had in the past. And when they can hear of the positive outcomes that someone just like them has experienced, they can believe (and rightly so!) that you can help them achieve those outcomes too - and look as happy as they do with their practitioner giving the camera a big thumbs up! Moreover, these happy patients can share their post so their friends and family will also know about what you were able to do for them and those word of mouth recommendations are a very powerful tool.

3. You can effectively show your company culture and atmosphere. Is your clinic different from others because it takes a family-centred approach in that it is filled with kids toys, games and practitioners that love working with kids and specialise in this area? Do you want to visually alleviate misconceptions that dental clinics are all about long, pointy needles and tears? Show it in your posts and content! Show pictures of your colouring in books with happy kids and their wide, toothless grins. Show photos of your clinicians and their bold and bright name badges that infer that they see kids all the time and know how to handle the tricky situations that may arise. Whatever atmosphere and culture you have in your clinic, this is a fantastic opportunity to portray it and show your target market that this is the place for them and that you have the tools in place to ensure they have the best experience.

4. Introduce your potential patients to their highly-skilled and professional practitioners and start building that patient-practitioner relationship even before you've met! Has one of your practitioners recently learnt an advanced technique that you want to share? Has a new staff member just come on board? Or you may simply be proud of the fantastic team you have in place and the work they are doing each day? Post about it! Get a photo of their bubbly, friendly self out there with some information about what they can do and how they can help countless people with the difficulties they are experiencing. People relate to people, and this is a simple way to start building trust, respect, and confidence in your practitioner and their skills even before a word is said to them in person.

5. Regular posts, activity, and engagement (generally staying up-to-date with social media) shows that you're an active clinic and if you're up-to-date and active with advances in social media, it is perceived that you're more likely to be up-to-date with other advances and technologies, including those in the health and medical sector. Consider it from your patients perspective: you need a physio in your new region and there are two within a similar proximity to you that are similarly priced. One has a Facebook page that was last updated 9 months ago with no recent activity (and one post per month at most prior) and the second is filled with great information, descriptions of innovative new treatments and research, happy patients and reviews, and the posts are very regular with 2-3 per week published, the last being 3 days ago. You may wonder, why is the first clinic no longer active - have they shut down? Have they decreased their hours? Were they not getting enough patients? Has nothing new happened in the last 9 months? And the chances of choosing this first clinic over the second would be significantly less - I'd choose the second 'active' clinic too.

To conclude: When you put fingers to the keyboard (and camera), Facebook has numerous ways to add significant value to your healthcare business without paying a cent, and if you choose to add money to your Facebook strategy then the potential can increase even more to get you reaching thousands of new potential patients in your region. With these posts and photos, it's important to remember that they must be paired with quality content that enhances your business and doesn't hinder it. Get in touch if you'd like us to help and good luck with your social media!