How To Leverage Paid Social Media To Market Your Small Practice: Part 1

Not too long ago, marketing in healthcare had a dubious reputation…

Most providers were convinced as professionals they didn’t need to market their services. Some even insisted that those who dared to market their services were “unprofessional!”

But healthcare is changing, and with it, the opinion about marketing.

And smart practice owners understand!

They know it’s no longer enough to be good at what they do; medical skills alone won’t guarantee success. Today, you must take steps to market your practice and “sell yourself.”

I understand this may fly in the face of everything you’ve been taught! And chances are it’s outside your comfort zone.

But if you are in business, any business, you need to market your products, services, and to some extent, even yourself.

Period. End of story!

But before I continue, let me share some basic ideas and definitions about marketing, so we’re on the same page.

What Is Marketing?

  • Marketing is big-picture, strategic thinking.
  • Marketing is about attracting customers to your business.
  • It’s getting the right message to the right people.
  • It begins long before a product or service is for sale.
  • It’s not a one-time activity but an ongoing process.
  • It includes specific strategies and activities designed to promote products and services to generate revenue.

What is Online Marketing?

Online marketing is a branch of marketing that utilized web-based channels to promote a business, product, service, or cause. It may be grouped into five categories, including:

  • Website Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Search Marketing
  • Email & Newsletter Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is an online marketing strategy. It utilizes social media platforms with the intent to promote products and services, to generate revenue for the business. It comes in two distinct flavors: “free” and paid marketing.

Why Social Media Marketing?

… because that’s where you’ll find your patients! While this may sound too simplistic, it’s the truth.

Doesn’t it make sense to look for people where they are; to create interest for your services and business, by going to where people “hang out?”

I think it does!

And the most accessible place to find people today is on social media. Even though not long ago, there were concerns over privacy and “fake news,” social media utilization largely remains unchanged.

Based on findings from Pew Research, in the US, Facebook still is the social media platform with the most users, followed by YouTube, and Instagram.

The majority of American adults utilize both Facebook and YouTube; whereby Instagram and Snapchat are the preferred platform of younger adults, ages 18 to 24 years old. 

Social Media Is Unique

Why is it unique? And what makes it different from other marketing channels?

To find out why social media is unique, you must first understand the mindset of people on social media.

So let me ask you this… why are you on social media?

  • Do you log into Facebook to shop for a new set of linens or a new raincoat?
    • No… chances are you shop locally or go to Amazon.
  • Do you check Facebook for the latest news about the economy?
    • No… to catch the latest news, you open the paper or tune into your favorite network
  • You don’t go to Facebook for any of it!

People are on social media for specific reasons:

  • They’re there to connect, share, and socialize.
  • They share photos, recipes, success stories, funny videos, and quotes.
  • They ask questions, share their experiences, respond to queries, share their expertise, and sometimes they rant.

They’re not on social media to buy or to be sold to! And that’s what makes social media different from other types of marketing!

Remember this whenever you market on social media! 

Money Or Time?

As mentioned earlier, there is paid and “free” social media marketing.

You could argue there is no such thing as free. Because you can either spend your money on ads or use your time, attempting to accomplish the same.

What is it you’re trying to accomplish?

You’re trying to attract attention. You want to create interest in your services so that you’ll bring new customers/patients into your practice.

When using free methods, you focus on sharing content, responding to comments, participate in conversations, and the like. You generate attention by creating interest and engaging your visitors.

And while you could do less of it once you’re using paid methods, you don’t want to stop altogether. After all, people are on social media because they want to socialize, share, and connect with others.

Why Pay for Ads?

Why would you spend your hard-earned cash paying for something you can do for free?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, free is not really free! And just because you run a few Facebook ads, doesn’t mean you’ll stop all other efforts.

Ideally, you want to combine Facebook ads with free social media strategies to grow your practice.

But here’s the real benefit of paying for ads on Facebook or any other platform. When you pay for ads, it’s possible to generate traffic for you almost immediately.

You can’t do this with free marketing methods. Results could take weeks or months before they work, or they may never work at all. But paid ads give you some level of control over getting traffic to your pages. While free social media efforts can be great for creating interest in your business, they may be difficult to sustain.

But that’s one of the reasons you have a website; your goal should be moving visitors from your social media pages over to your website. Why?

You have control over your website, but you do not control what happens on social media. And, once on your site, you have the opportunity to communicate on a different level, capture contact information via email signup, and stay in touch with visitors.

How Facebook Ads Work

If you’ve worked with Google AdWords before, you should have a good idea of how Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising works.

PPC means you only pay for the ad when someone actually clicks on it. In a way, you get charged only when the ad works!

Overall, Facebook ads work similarly; you pay when someone shows interest in the ad or clicks it.

That’s all I want to share with you today.

But before I leave, I’d like for you to think about the following.

  • What is your goal for placing ads on Facebook?
  • Who do you want to attract with your ad?
  • What do you want them to do once you have their attention?

Next week, we’ll go over the terminology you need to know, how to get started with your first ad, and more.


Join the conversation by leaving your comment or question below; we’d love to hear from you!


By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”

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