Using Social Media to Attract New Patients and Build Loyalty

Shelly Reese

Disclosures

December 27, 2017

In This Article

Chasing the "Like" From Patients

Enormous as the social media universe may be, it is dominated by Facebook, which boasts more than two billion active users. Practices trying to get their message out can pay for posts, post free "organic" content, or do both.

"You can't put zero dollars in and get a patient. Everything costs time, money, or both," Brooks says. Because Facebook uses an algorithm that makes it extremely difficult for businesses to get their messages into users' newsfeeds, Brooks says that paid posts should be part of a practice's outreach. Paid posts enable practices to generate leads, to drive patients in a targeted demographic to the practice's website, and to track the results of their outreach.

The cost of running a Facebook ad depends on a laundry list of factors from the size of the audience you are targeting to the time of year when you are advertising. In February, Wordstream, an online advertising agency, estimated the average "cost per click" for a healthcare ad on Facebook to be $1.32 per click, well under the $1.72 average across all industries.

Organic content is free to post, but it only appears in a user's Facebook feed if they have already "liked" your practice, and even then it is often pushed aside by the Facebook algorithm. Because organic content is directed at people who already have a connection with your practice, it serves a different purpose.

"Organic outreach is more about brand awareness and building levels of awareness," Brooks says. It's a great way for practices to stay connected with patients they may not see very often, and there's an implicit endorsement when patients like or share a practice's post with their networks. It can also be a great way to garner referrals. When a patient shares her orthopedic surgeon's post about preventing ACL injuries with her teammate, she's not only sharing the practice's name, she's showing her teammate that her doctor is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and interested in helping people avoid injury.

But remember: Patients aren't going to click on—let alone share—posts unless they think the information is valuable, says Zamora, who manages the organic messaging for the Hernried Center. Zamora posts twice weekly on the center's Facebook page, which has more than 840 "likes" and more than 160 reviews. He includes features such as live Q&A sessions with the practice's exercise physiologist and food preparation tips from the staff nutritionist.

Whether they share the information or not, they are grateful to have it and feel more connected to the practice as a result. That, Zamora says, is one of the most powerful aspects of social media.

"The journey doesn't stop when people become patients," he says. "That's where it begins."

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