Social media has become a vital practice marketing channel in the healthcare world and your independent practice cannot afford to ignore it. While jumping into social media to promote your business may seem intimidating at first, it doesn’t have to be. Setting up social media accounts for your practice can be a simple, step-by-step process and a great place to start is Facebook.
Think of Facebook as a channel to connect with your existing patients and even bring in new ones by offering helpful tips and insights into what it is like to be part of your practice. It is also a good starting point for practice owners, since many people are already familiar with Facebook for their personal connections.
Don’t wait any longer to put this marketing mega-tool to use. Follow these simple steps and you will have your medical practice Facebook page up and running and reap the rewards.
Step #1 – Your Personal Account
If you don’t already have a personal account on Facebook, it is time to set one up because your business account will be connected to it. By Facebook rules, you cannot have separate business and personal accounts or you risk having them both shut down. And, while you can set up a business-only page, without have a personal account, there are many limitations to these pages that make them far less attractive for use in marketing your practice. Just make sure that as the practice owner, your Facebook business page is connected to your own personal page. You don’t want to have it connected to the page of even a trusted employee because if they leave your practice, you risk losing access to your business page. To set up your personal account, just go to www.facebook.com and follow the instructions.
Step # 2 – Creating the Page
Once you have created and are logged into your personal profile, go to www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and choose the option “Local Business or Place”. It will then ask you to choose the category of your business from a drop-down menu. You will also choose a sub-category to further refine your niche, making it easier for patients to find you. Make sure to choose the categories that best fit your practice so that if, for example, a patient is searching for an urologist in San Francisco, they can easily find you.
Step # 3 – Choosing Your Facebook Page Name
Under the Category menu, you will be asked to enter the name of your page. This should be the name of your practice. However, if another practice with the same name already has that page it is time to get a little more creative. You might choose your practice name followed by the city you are in. Facebook gives you 70 characters to work with in choosing your page name, so you may have to tweak it a little. Just remember that once you have more than 200 fans or likes, you won’t be allowed to change your page name, so including the name of a provider, who might not be a permanent fixture in your practice, would not be a good choice. Select the box next to “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms” and click “Get Started” to move to the next step.
Step # 4 – Your Profile Picture
Your profile picture could be a photo of yourself, your staff, or your office. Choose what you feel your patients will connect with best because this picture will appear next to every post that goes into the news feed from your page. Facebook recommends a photo size of 180 pixels by 180 pixels. If you choose a picture that is larger, you can adjust the viewable portion by placing your pointer on the picture and clicking “Edit Profile Picture” and then “Edit Thumbnail”. Once you have your profile picture set, click “Next” to move on.
Step # 5 – The About Section
Be as thorough as you can in filling out this section. Here you will put your website address, your physical address, and describe your practice. Don’t skimp on your description here. Tell patients about yourself and your practice, and be sure to use keywords here to make your page as easy to find as possible. At this point, you will click on the button that says you are a real business and then click “Save Info”. You now have your own Facebook business page.
Step # 6 – Choose Administrators
Your page is up but you still have a few housekeeping tasks to take care of before you are ready to begin posting. First, you need to choose who will be responsible for adding content to your page. You can designate a Page Manager. Just remember that this person will have the right to send messages, create posts and ads, and review the reports generated by Facebook on your page. If you choose to keep the role of Manager for yourself, you can designate other functions such as Moderator or Content Creator for employees to limit access while still allowing your staff to handle some of the basic necessities.
Step # 7 – Review Your Permissions
To review your permission settings, click “Edit Page” then “Manage Permissions”. You will find these in the admin panel. Two key areas to check are the Profanity Blocklist, which should be set to medium or high, and the Message button. If you leave your message button on the default setting, patients can send you messages through your page. This is fine if you make sure to monitor your page. However, if you don’t plan to check your page regularly, change your default messaging so that patients will be able to reach you through your office email. You never want patients to message you and not receive a reply.
Step # 8 – Your Cover Photo
The final step before you are ready to begin posting is to add a cover photo to your business page. To do this, just click “Add a Cover” and upload a photo from your computer. You can position it the way you like and then click “Save Changes”. Facebook requires your cover photo be a minimum of 399 pixels wide. Most standard photos work well but sometimes the top or bottom of the picture may be cut off so you might have to try a few shots to find the one that looks best on your page. Facebook does have a rule that cover photos cannot contain more than 20% text, so just be aware of that and you can choose a picture that best shows off your practice to both new and current patients.
Now that you have your medical practice Facebook page up and running, you can “Like” your own page, start posting content, and send out emails to your patient community letting them know where to find your page. Remember that by its nature, social media is “social”. That means that once your page is up, it is vital that your practice is active, posting regularly, and providing timely, useful content, tips, and glimpses into your practice itself. Adding this personal touch can greatly improve how connected patients feel to you, your staff, and your practice.
For more tips on managing your online reputation, download this helpful guide.