Physical therapy marketing is more important than ever before.
Between 2003 and 2014, there was a 54.5% decrease in physician referrals to Physical Therapy as reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Any owner who wants to grow their practice needs to look into other marketing channels.
One of the easiest channels to set up are social media profiles and pages for your business. To help you get started, here are several tips for getting your page up and running, increasing your number of followers, and actually generating new patients from social media.
Just note: these tips can apply to different social networks but were all created with Facebook in mind.
People may gripe about different aspects of Facebook, but it is still the undisputed leader when it comes to social media. Facebook has 2.45 billion monthly active users and 1.62 billion daily visitors. On top of that, older demographics are the fastest-growing group on Facebook.
So, don’t think you’ll end up marketing physical therapy to teenagers. The number of Facebook users aged 65+ has doubled in recent years.
Bottom line: Your target audience is on Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook. And your brand should be there, too. This will help keep your practice top-of-mind and help you connect with future patients.
First and foremost, you want your business page to reflect your personality and the personality of your team. Yes, you always want to keep your social posts professional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be also be fun and personable. Don’t feel pressured to be or act a certain way. Just be yourself and give people a look of what it’s like to be a patient at your clinic.
And always remember that you are talking to people who aren’t experts on physical therapy terms and musculoskeletal conditions. So, nix the complicated terms and use simple language when you post.
Another note: Don’t buy fake fans. Yes, there are some less-than-scrupulous companies out there that promise business owners thousands of cheap likes. But services like this aren’t worth the money.
There’s really no benefit to buying fake fans. It won’t make your page look more established or encourage other people to follow you. Better to save your money and focus on creating valuable content.
The about section on your page is valuable real estate. Take the time to complete this section and supply all the necessary information. You don’t need to get to 100% completion, but contact information is a must. You should also share a bit about your practice and what makes you different.
You’ll also want to follow Facebook’s guidelines for selecting a cover photo. This is your chance to make a good first impression, so use a high-quality image.
It’s also a good idea to update your cover photo a few times a year. This shows that your page is active, and it can help you show up in your followers’ timeline.
Include links to your Facebook and other social media pages on your website (and vice versa).
Create fliers with your social media handles and keep these at your front desk, or even have one hanging on the wall inside your practice. If you publish a newsletter, you should include links to your social media there as well.
Social media shouldn’t take over your life, but you also don’t want your Facebook page to become a ghost town.
To start out, pick a posting schedule that works for you and strive to be consistent. Posting at least once a week is a good baseline. After a few weeks, you can go back and see which posts generated the most engagement.
Many social media pros recommend setting aside a block of time to create and schedule all your physical therapy marketing posts for a week. Get some Facebook content ideas and plan out your next 4 posts in advance. There’s software that can help with scheduling, but you can also do this natively on Facebook.
Share exclusive content that followers can’t see from anyone else. Like behind-the-scenes photos and videos of your PTs and staff, patient stories and testimonials.
Other physical therapy marketing content ideas include:
Contests and polls are great ways to get followers to engage with your posts. For polls, aim for a mix of fun and physical therapy-related topics.
The Single Question Email template can be adapted and used on your personal and professional Facebook page. This question has generated tons of responses and plans of care in the past.
An example of a fun survey question can be asking your page to share their favorite Halloween candy as a kid. When you’re just starting out on Facebook and still growing your followers, encourage your staff to comment and respond to questions like these.
With contests, don’t think that you always need to offer expensive prizes to get people to participate. Photo caption contests are usually big hits. As are any contests involving cutest pet.
If you do want to go the prize route, consider offering gift cards to local businesses in your area. This can be a great way to create social media content and to network with potential CAWs partners.
If you share links on your page, take a moment to add some context and commentary of your own.
For example, say there’s a great link to an article about the effectiveness of physical therapy prior to getting surgery. This is a great piece of content to share, but don’t just copy/paste the link and hit enter. Write out your thoughts on the news and encourage people in pain to stop by your clinic.
This is true even if you’re sharing content that you’ve created such as a blog post from your website. Even a sentence or two is fine, but you just want to add something unique to everything that you share.
Engagement on social media is a two-way street. If you want people to like and comment on your posts, you should be sure to like and reply to their comments.
You don’t want to hide the fact that there is a real person (or real people) behind your page. Or make people feel like they are interacting with a brick wall.
This rule is especially true for comments where someone asks a question, but you should like and reply to every comment you get.
This not only encourages people to keep engaging with you and your page, Facebook will also give the user a notification which will bring them back to your post.
What about negative comments? You should reply to those, too. Keep your tone professional and light-hearted if possible.
That being said, there are some comments and commenters that aren’t worth interacting with. If you encounter a troll or someone who is using crude/inflammatory language on your page, feel free to delete their comments and block them.
Use your best judgment to decide what negative comments fall into which category. You don’t want to run from negative comments, but that doesn’t mean you have to let people spam your page either.
Plan on creating video content for your page and even consider streaming live on Facebook. Facebook itself has said that video content drives higher engagement and interactions from users compared to other types of content on the platform.
When it comes to video, don’t think you have to make big-budget commercials for your practice. A simple video tour of your clinic or staff introductions are great pieces of content.
You can also create valuable exercise videos for people in pain. With any videos that are directly related to physical therapy, just make sure that you extend an invitation for viewers to visit your clinic in-person.
Similar to video, you want to share some purely visual content on your page as well. Facebook prioritizes content that doesn’t try to take users away from the platform, so your content will show up in more timelines.
Plus, sharing photos and images garner 87% more engagement than links and text post.
With any form of marketing, you want to invite people to take the “next step” towards working with you.
This could be a direct invite to schedule an appointment in your clinic or a request to get people to sign up for your email list.
Growing your email list may not seem as impactful as getting someone to visit you in-person, but it’s still advantageous.
Someone who likes your business page won’t see everything you post on their Facebook timeline. Over the years, Facebook has shortened the organic reach of page posts and updates.
But none of that matters once someone is on your email list. At that point, you are no longer bound by Facebook’s algorithm. You can now continue to build a relationship with this person by showing up directly in their inbox.
Here’s a great email marketing resource to help you convert subscribers into patients.
Our tips so far have focused on organic social media for PT marketing, but paid advertising is a great method if you want more direct control over your results.
With organic, your posts will reach some of the people who like and follow your page. With paid traffic, you can target a completely cold audience. Meaning, people who have never heard of your business before. With this expanded reach, private practice owners have the ability to control their new patient flow by attracting direct access patients.
At Breakthrough, we’ve found that advertising physical therapy workshops is a very cost-effective way for PTs to advertise on Facebook. Ads for workshops attract people with a need for the services PTs provide and gets them off the computer and into your practice for the presentation.
There are many different moving parts to this process, which is why we created the Growth X system to handle them all. Growth X covers Facebook advertising, landing pages that capture new patient leads, workshop tools to track individual progress toward becoming a patient, and an automated email system that increases workshop attendance.