A question I’m frequently asked by physios is… “Which social media platforms should I be on?”
The answer is, you definitely you need to consider being on LinkedIn, and for the other platforms – it depends – but I'll be discussing how to make the best choice.
Let’s explore the different platforms, the pros and cons of each of them, and why you should ditch most of them.
I recently coached a physio who is looking to grow awareness and contacts for referrals. He’s an amazing clinician, and he’s busy growing a successful clinic, but when I first met him, he told me that he felt as though people didn’t know who he was.
He’d had a bit of a dabble around in some of the social media channels, but he wasn’t sure what to say, or where to say it.
If you’re feeling a bit like him, you’re probably wondering where you should be choosing to spend your time on social. Is it really worth it, and does it actually lead to more patients coming through your door?
The first thing to remember is, there are two ways to utilise social media; unpaid (a.k.a. ‘organic’ posting) and paid-for (think Facebook Ads). Social media platforms need to make money, and it’s key that you understand the difference between the two, because it vastly affects how your posts on these platforms appear to viewers.
Secondly, social media should never replace your main online ‘home’ – i.e. your website. Social media should be a vehicle to get people over to your website, and a way to engage in online conversations. We can never be sure if such platforms will continue (anyone remember Periscope?), and social platforms have a nasty habit of changing the rules, a lot.
Thirdly, people don’t tend to go to social media sites to ‘buy’ things – in other words, they’re not typically going to hang out on social so that they can catch your amazing Pilates class special offer. You should think of using social media as a way to generate interest in what you do, and then bring the interested people over to your website.
Finally, it’s all about where your potential audience is. This is crucial and we’ll talk more on this in a moment. But let’s jump in with a few of those social media platform choices.
Love it or hate it, Facebook has been around a long time, and it’s a mahoosive machine.
In 2018 Mark Zuckerberg wrote… “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
In other words, your ability to be seen as a physio practice entity in organic postings has significantly dwindled.
If our physio were to post something to his Facebook feed, the chances of it being shown to one of his followers is as low as just 2%. One in fifty people. Almost no-one, if you only have a hundred followers. So why might our physio bother with Facebook?
Well, most people on the planet have heard of Facebook and the majority of them actively engage with a bit of Facebooking. If you’re putting money behind your posts (i.e. you’re paying for Facebook ads), you can ask Facebook to show the ads to a niche area of people (for instance, people who like to ski, who’ve got a dodgy knee, who live in London).
When are the best times to post on Facebook? Engagement on Facebook tends to peak between noon and four pm, and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are the best days for posting.
Should our physio be using Facebook as part of his marketing strategy? Possibly, if he were to use paid ads, but with organic reach decreasing year on year, it may not be the best place for him to spend most of his time if he’s not willing to part with cash.
Many of us cut our teeth on Twitter when the social channels were starting out. These days Twitter is more of a ‘news’ channel, than a social media marketing channel. We’ve seen in recent months how Twitter swings into action when there’s a crisis or an emergency unfolding, and if you’ve recently attended a conference, you may have been asked to jump into the Twitter feed, using the conference hashtag.
When is the best time to post on Twitter? It’s around lunchtime and then between five and six pm, which is when we’re probably wanting to find out what’s happening in the world at that moment in time.
Should our physio make Twitter his home? Our experience is that whilst it’s a great place to show off your expertise by swiftly responding to topical issues, it rarely leads to direct patient referrals. Sorry Twitter. We flew the nest.
LinkedIn used to be considered a stuffy, ‘old boys’ school kinda place’. You used to literally have to be introduced via a third party before you could connect with someone. It was the sort of platform where you might have gone if you were hunting for a job in the city.
All has now changed on LinkedIn, and it’s a huge place for clinicians to link with other clinicians. In other words, our physio could use LinkedIn for connecting with potential referrers. It’s not typically a place to directly connect with potential patients, but if our physio is looking to build relationships with Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons, SEM Consultants, Rheumatologists or Pain Physicians, LinkedIn’s where it’s at.
LinkedIn shows posts to viewers using an algorithm (as do all social platforms), not by how recently the post was put up, but rather the algorithm dictates who should see what, when.
When are the best times to post on LinkedIn? Because LinkedIn is a B2B (Business to Business) type platform, the best times to post are before clinic, lunchtime, and after clinic hours. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to post on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, as do all social platforms, preferentially promotes high-quality content, and so you’re far better off posting just once a day and make that piece a high-quality piece. Don’t post something for the sake of it. If that means posting just once a week, then make sure it’s a piece that will encourage people to engage with it.
Should our physio spend his time on LinkedIn?
Well, LinkedIn video is HUGE now, and LinkedIn’s algorithm will favour you for posting video. Given that 80% of content consumed online is in the form of video, our physio might seriously want to consider producing video for LinkedIn.
Interestingly, text-only posts, rather than posts with pictures, will tend to get more comments and interactions. A mixture of video and text-only postings would be a good option for our physio.
Instagram has grown hugely in the last year or two.
Its algorithm has also changed. Again, Instagram switched from a reverse chronological order of displaying your posts, to dictating what gets posted when and to whom, using their algorithm.
Instagram has said… ‘What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc”.
So, who loves Instagram, and why might Instagram matter to a physio? Whilst men do indeed hang out on Instagram, there does tend to be a certain demographic that uses Insta. 70% of its users are under 35 years of age, and more women than men spend time there.
Insta is the place for B2C interactions (think physio to potential patient), and if our physio’s patient group tended to be millennial females, then it could be a platform where he could spend his time.
If he were to mainly work with male city workers, in their fifties, who have back pain, then he’s not readily going to find them hanging out on Instagram. If you’re a physio looking gain referrals from other clinicians who may be older than you, you’re not likely to find many of them there, either.
There’s a good argument that physio lends itself well to visual imagery, and IGTV (Instagram TV) and Instagram stories are great places for physios to build brand awareness through the use of video.
When is the best time to post on Instagram? 11am-1pm, with Wednesdays being the best day to post.
Should our physio spend his precious time on Instagram? The answer could be yes, if his patient niche loves insta.
So, which social media platforms should physios engage with?
I’m a huge advocate of choosing one (possibly two) platforms, and pretty much disregarding the rest. Sack ‘em.
Andrew and Pete (marketing gurus), talk about the 90:10 principle, and they talk about focusing 90% of your time and energy on doing one thing really, really well.
If we apply this guidance to social media, you want to concentrate yourself in one place (only) most of the time. If you’re engaging with people on several platforms, all you’re doing is encouraging them to continue to engage with you on that platform. You want them to engage with you on ONE platform, because the bigger number of engagements you get on a platform, the more the algorithm will reward you.
So, which platform did our physio choose, you may be wondering?
He got stuck into LinkedIn and has been producing some great videos. He’s getting great view numbers, and fantastic interactions with people commenting on his posts.
All of this helps push him up LinkedIn’s algorithm, and now he’s getting ‘known’
So, choose one platform, ditch the rest and get stuck in. Doctor’s orders.
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