Facebook For Doctors: How to use it to grow your practice?
Facebook for doctors is a balance exercise between patient education, advertising rules, and the particular dynamics of a patient-doctor relationship.
It’s all about communication
You wouldn’t necessarily follow a doctor unless you somehow relate to the conditions this doctor is treating. So Facebook engagement by itself, for a doctor, is different compared to what happens when people follow a hip-hop artist.
How can you use Facebook to book results, and grow your practice? First, it’s key to fully understand the context, and to get clear on your intention to get more patients. Once you’re serious about this, you’ll soon understand that it needs a serious strategy. As opposed to a quick Friday afternoon upload by one of your staff members because you hung up some new posters.
The ideal “Facebook for doctors” approach is nothing else than a communication between a sender and a receiver. And that’s why some good old communication rules still apply.
Step 1: Get clear on your target audience
Once you know who you’re talking to, you’ll have a better idea of what is relevant to them. Since these are people who have decided to follow you (and to like you, if you prefer), it means that they know you, and that they can see some relevance in seeing what you share. Other than friends and family, your real target audience consists of patients or prospect patients who relate to the conditions you treat in your practice.
Step 2: Get clear on why you share content
Just like you want to see who you’re talking to, they want to know who is talking to them. Is it the practice owner-businessman? Is it the scientist in you? The healthcare idealist? The human being? The educator? Probably a combination of those hats you’re wearing. So make it clear that you educate, you talk about the bigger picture, you occasionally share something funny and you do want people to come to your practice, not your competitor’s.
Step 3: Stop doing random posts
Just like the TV station consistently keeps broadcasting content of a certain type – giving you that certainty when you decide to tune in, we want your channel to “broadcast” a consistent mix of content that makes us stay. To grow your list of followers and to be a thought leader you will benefit from being consistent. And that means a structured approach rather than random Friday afternoon posts. Consistency, in any type of media context, boosts credibility. Think about the fact that familiar faces are hosting the news, or the fact that the world loves well-known actors and stars.
Step 4: Only promote content when it deserves it.
How about Facebook advertising? For commodity services like a GP service or laser/cosmetic, it’s perfectly fine to add some advertising into the mix, driving local traffic to your practice. If your intention is to promote individual pages or posts, then make sure the article or the post is worth it. Clear keywords, compelling copy, perhaps a short video, and well chosen images, will make it more engaging and will avoid a high bounce rate on content that you’re promoting through Adwords or Facebook ads.
Step 5: Facebook for doctors: the AHPRA regulations
In Australia, AHPRA creates guidelines for advertising in the medical industry. It’s important that you are familiar with these regulations so you can implement them in your communication strategy. The rules are designed to protect your patients, and it’s in your best interest to be on your patient’s side when you engage in digital communication. After all, your main interest is to help patient, physically through the work you do, and as a communicator through accurate, reliable educational content.
This shows that Facebook for doctors is a whole universe in itself. And when you integrate it in a solid digital strategy for your practice, you will see that it can be a great tool to engage, and to remind potential referrers of your existence.
Dr Tamara Hunter – Fertility Specialist and Gynaecologist, Perth
Dr Richard Newton – Azure Medical, Cottesloe, WA