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Social Media in practice – how to get started

Social Media Agency - Private Practice - Designated Medical

Navigating the world of social media can at first seem quite alien, but those once personal platforms have turned into a space where anyone and everything can co-exist. If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that healthcare and social media are a powerful combination. At its core, social media allows you to communicate with patients both locally and globally. By July 2022, social media users worldwide reached more than 4.7 billion, and the number is growing daily.

That’s a lot of likes and shares! But what does that mean for you and your healthcare business? What are the real benefits of spending time and money on your own online presence?

  • Raising awareness of your private practice or healthcare business.
  • Driving traffic to your website.
  • Building a community around your business or brand.
  • Attracting new patients or customers.
  • Sharing positive feedback and patient reviews.
  • Responding to healthcare questions and concerns.
  • Communication during a healthcare crisis.
  • Opposing health misinformation. (The World Health Organisation have shared the following tips for identifiying misinformation.)
  • Raising awareness of illnesses and sharing informative, factual resources.

So, let’s start on the right foot. Social media is not free. It is quick and (relatively) easy to set up profiles, and of course, there is no cost attached to this. However, as you begin to develop your social media strategy, you will need to start thinking about putting a small budget aside, to support your efforts. Otherwise, your hard work will be lost in a sea of noise. (Remember those 4 billion-plus accounts.)

1. Choosing and setting up your platform

But let’s get back to basics. There are now a whole host of social media platforms available, with users flocking toward them, to achieve different things. The following research by ‘Hootsuite’ and ‘We Are Social’ gives an overview of some of the top channels. You can see that Facebook for example is popular with people looking to post their own content, and share their updates with friends and family, whereas those on TIK TOK are there primarily to browse entertainment, being less inclined to create their own content and post.

At Designated Medical, our clients are looking to achieve different things, so we won’t tell you which ones you should join without knowing your specific situation, but this is the first step, figuring out which platform your audience favour, and how that aligns with your business and the type of posts you are willing to share on social media.

Once you have chosen your social media platforms, it is useful to get one live before trying to set up multiple accounts at the same time. Especially if social media is still quite new to you. You will need to make sure you have your business logo, cover banners, straplines, and marketing copy all saved in one place so that you easily access them to upload to your profiles.

Social Media Platforms

2. Defining your audience

Developing a clear understanding of your social media target audience is one of the most important things to do before starting your marketing strategy. Your target audience informs all elements of your social media strategy going forward.

Before we get into the details, here’s a little tip: your target audience is not everyone! But there is plenty you can do to start defining and understanding your audience and we can also help with the rest.

Audience research will help you craft relevant content, messaging, and ads, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
But defining a target audience can be one of the most challenging aspects of marketing. But once you have a clear idea of who they are, your marketing will be more relevant and have better returns.

Read more about defining your social media audience

3. Content planning

Now is a good time to start thinking about how you will create and share content, will you be using a marketing agency or do you or someone on your team have the design skills to create an image or video content for your platforms? It is worth considering how often you would like to post. Different platforms have different recommendations. For example:

Facebook – once per day
Twitter – 1 – 2 times per day
LinkedIn – Once per day

However, although social media platforms would love you to be posting daily, this much to your audience can turn them off, unless you have a rich source of content. Quality is better than quantity.

We strongly recommend creating a monthly content calendar, to plan in advance what you are going to post and when. This will give you a holistic view of your social media content and give you an overview of whether you need to be posting more or less of a particular topic.

Designated Medical clients are diverse and so each likes to focus on niche topics, however, here are some popular themes to get you started:

  • Tell the story of you and your practice – tell your audience a little bit about you, how you got started, and the story of how your practice or healthcare business came to be where it is today. This could be in a video format, a live video if you’re feeling confident or even an image post with the post copy detailing the information.
  • Introduce your team – People like to know who they’re talking to, create posts that get to know the people on your team, who they are, what they do and the impact they make. Your team are also likely to feel valued seeing this public recognition of their abilities and input.
  • Patient reviews – Another content pillar that should be a monthly or even weekly staple in your content planning. Patient reviews and testimonials. You need to gather these and also get the right permissions from your patients to share them online. People looking to buy a product or use a service will head to social media or the internet first to find out what others are saying. With lives busier than ever, people are looking to get it right the first time by using the experience of others as a foundation for their decision-making.
  • Healthcare awareness days – this is a big one, and something many of our clients like to get behind. If you share factual information around relative healthcare and disease issues that are related to your practice, you are sharing content that is relative to you, and useful to your audience. This gives your audience a reason to keep following and engaging with your content. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive a ton of engagement from this, but it means that those who have seen it know that you are someone they can come back to in the future, should they have symptoms or concerns.
  • Curated content – don’t think you have to create every post yourself, there is a world of content that has already been created out there, feel free to share anything you feel may be useful to your audience, and that is important, coming from a reputable source.

4 – Paid advertising

Now that you have set up your accounts and built your content strategy, you will be looking to start reaching specific groups of people. We mentioned earlier that social media is not free. Organic social can only get you so far. Targeted advertising is different. You can make sure people of a certain gender, age-range and location receive your marketing message. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it is important to have paid social experts to help with this element of your social strategy to ensure you are not wasting money in the wrong places.

Each social media platform will have its own advertising account section, each one looking and working differently. You will need to input credit card or banking information into the account, and you can choose whether you want automated ads running continuously in the background or whether you want to have only targeted campaigns running for a set amount of time such as a few weeks or months.

At Designated Medical, we work with a range of clients on their paid advertising needs, if you’re looking to take your social media marketing strategy to the next level we can help. If you’re feeling really adventurous, we can also introduce social listening platforms which help you reach directly people who are asking for help online or talking about particular health complaints.

Social media is not an overnight win, however, done correctly, and with consistent effort, you can promote yourself and your business to a community that knows where to go should they need help in a particular area of healthcare. While there are many private healthcare providers out there with social media accounts, so many of them have still not tapped into the full potential that social media can bring.

5. Ready to take the next step?

It can be difficult at first to judge whether what you’re sharing is professional enough, funny enough or even sensitive enough. That’s why if you’re posting yourself, it’s always good to get a few opinions from people you work with.

Here at Designated, we manage the marketing and branding for dozens of private practitioners and healthcare companies, we take the responsibility of creating content that’s on-brand, suitably toned and helping to promote our clients to new audiences.

If you would like help managing Instagram or any of your other social media channels, please feel free to reach out to our Marketing Director Michelle michelle@designatedgroup.com