Wendy Lewis simplifies the complex world of social media
So why do you need to be on social media? First and foremost, the numbers of people you can connect with via social media are huge.
On YouTube, owned by Google, and the most important video platform, there are over a billion users.
As of 2015, Facebook has 1.4 billion users globally. The UK has the largest percentage of the population of the country using Facebook; more than one third.
There are 24 million daily active Facebook users in the UK, in a country where the population is 60 million—that’s almost half.
India’s also a huge user and for many countries that are really big users of social platforms, it tends to be with younger populations.
Turkey is a huge user, Brazil is a huge user, and so are Philippines and Indonesia.
You don’t have to be on every platform unless you have a huge marketing machine behind you—and at that point you are definitely going to have to outsource and probably have an SEO company doing part of that for you in terms of optimisation.
How to get started
If you want to get more active than you already are, you need to figure out where your patients are. 73% of people aged 35–44 have a social media account. Numbers increase as you go down, but 58% of people aged 45 to 54 have a profile on a social network—and that’s facelift territory, that’s fillers and toxins, laser resurfacing; that’s most of what you do in your clinic.
Around 29% of those aged 65 plus have a profile on at least one social network. In most cases if they’re going to have a profile it’s Facebook, but that’s changing.
Many doctors will concern themselves with the fact that they have an older population and of course you’re in the anti-ageing business, but even older populations aged 50+ are on these platforms. If nothing else, grandmas want to see their grandchildren, so they are on these platforms in a bigger way than you may realise.
Start by figuring out the platforms that your patients are on, your specific patients, and expand from there. Looking at social media becomes overwhelming, so we want to dissect it and bring it to a level that you’re comfortable with and that is manageable in-house to start with.
Perhaps you then graduate to outsourcing it, depending on your budget and the way your practice is run.
Create multiple touch points
Promoting yourself is no longer only about having a pretty brochure or having a fairly good website; you need to be in other places where your patients are and the most important thing today is now being on mobile devices, because so much social media activity is going to come from a smartphone or a tablet.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to convert your website to a mobile friendly version, but if you’re starting a new website that ought to be mandatory at this point.
Create shareable content
I see a lot of really good content and I see a lot of content that misses the mark. Part of it is that being in medicine restricts you from how colloquial you can get on these platforms and I recognise that. You’re not selling lipsticks, you’re not selling shoes, and your clinic is not a pizza restaurant.
You really have to keep your physician or practitioner hat on and think a little differently than a service business that reaches a much wider net. You’re looking for a very specific, niche market; a target audience.
Targeting is essential. The more you target, the more effective you’re going to be and the less money it will cost you in the end. Look at the platforms that are going to be most relevant to your patient population. In most cases it’s probably going to be Facebook, Twitter, maybe Pinterest. It may be Instagram if you have a younger population. Figure that out and then start with tier one, see how you do, and expand as you need to.
You can forget LinkedIn in this context, because despite merits that we will look at later, I don’t think it’s a place to look for patients.
Employ a professional PR
If you don’t have an in-house expert, outsource to someone who knows what he or she is doing—a PR or marketing person is ideal.
What you put out has to have the right tone and that’s very important because even if you’re very active, if what you’re posting isn’t the right kind of content, you’re wasting your time and defeating your purpose. Social is not all about SEO, but it definitely helps SEO and enhances your greater marketing efforts online.
People are 44% more likely to engage with content that contains visuals. That means anything, including photos, graphics, video; even links would fall into that category. Video is big, photographs are big. It could be a line drawing but it’s got to be something that is more engaging than just straight text. If you really must just do text, then at least break it up with a hashtag or two, so it looks a little more consumer friendly and there’s something of interest in it rather than just words.
Tailor your content to different platforms
Each platform has a specific type of user. Everyone’s going to have their own favourite platforms that they’re going to want to spend more time on and they consume content in a very different way.
The format is completely different in every one of these platforms, so you can’t just put a Facebook post up and call it a day. You have to figure out how that’s going to look on Twitter if you have it automated and on any other platform if you plan to share it.
Of course content can be reformatted. You can use the same basic content and just repackage it in a way that’s going to fit that other platform, and thumb-friendly content is good on a mobile platform.
The following guidelines may help distinguish some of differences between content on these platforms.
Instagram: How gorge is Jane after skin laser?!
Note the difference in tone, note the exclamation point; much more colloquial, much more conversational, a lot younger as well because a younger demographic is on Instagram now but that is expanding.
In fact, many milennials have shut down their Facebook profiles in favour of Instagram.
YouTube: watch me doing a laser treatment.
Factual and professional.
LinkedIn: My skills include expert laser resurfacing.
Totally different tone here. You’re talking to each other—colleagues, vendors, business partners—you’re not talking to consumers.
Pinterest: Jane has flawless skin after a laser treatment.
Very personal, very feminine, very relatable content that is more inspirational.
Google+: join my circle to learn about what lasers can do.
Google+ is still a mystery but a very important platform and not one you can afford to overlook because Google owns it.
A word on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a business-to-business networking platform. It is not for reaching consumers. In fact, I would discourage you from trying to use it to reach consumers. I see sometimes that doctors have their SEO people putting consumer blog posts in groups on LinkedIn. Frankly, that’s a good way to get thrown out of a group.
I would not delegate LinkedIn to anyone other than someone in your staff. This is about your business and I believe it needs to be done by someone who represents your business internally, especially if you are a public company. 79% of users on LinkedIn are over 35.
These are serious people. Users are twice as confident in the information found on LinkedIn because it’s not a social site in the very essense of the word. It’s not a community in the way Facebook is, but it’s so good for information.
In my opinion, the way to use LinkedIn is to put in weekly updates—it doesn’t need to be time consuming. What I mean by an update is you share some content you read online about a workshop you saw at this meeting. It can be something that came up in the news.
LinkedIn is also a great way to hire staff. It’s really good for job hunters, if you’re looking to replace or you’re looking to bring someone else new in.
One in every seven people on earth is on Facebook. It’s just too big to go away, but Facebook wants your business so they’ve really improved things. Their customer service isn’t good, however their didactics and their insights and the features they offer are excellent and well thought out, and they make it very user friendly because they don’t want you ever to call them.
Their ads have become cheaper and offer you more options, so the more you can target your ads, the better you’re going to get a result and it’s very easy to track. I don’t know how many doctors who are using Facebook ads, but I think Facebook is a good place to advertise and in my experience, it can be extremely effective if done efficiently.
If you’re not very active on Facebook yet, it’s important to keep profiles separate from business, because a lot of doctors can really get into trouble with this. If a patient reaches out to you to try to friend you personally on Facebook, my advice would be to send them a note back—thank you so much for your interest, please like our Facebook page, Dr Smith’s Clinic—so you’re not ignoring them and not accepting them which may tick them off.
What makes good content?
Pictures of faces, especially eyes and lips, capture a lot of attention just because they’re nice to look at and it’s eye contact.
I try not to use more than three hashtags. I really like branded content for Facebook. It’s very hard to get practices to do this unless you have someone who has really good Photoshop skills but it isn’t that difficult. If you’re working with a social media firm I would urge you to try to get them to do that because it looks so much better. There are also some hurdles to overcome relating to upload sizes, which an expert will be able to overcome much quicker.
Content should be light, it should be friendly and have a positive tone. If you’re trying to market a medical spa or a clinic, you need to lose the technical language.
Keep it professional, in that you’re talking to prospective patients and media, but avoid any kind of big words that require lengthy explanations, words that are hard to spell, complicated words or phrases that are not going to be picked up a search engine.
You can write about almost anything except religion. Politics is probably a bad thing too. Sex, you have to be a little careful because you’re practitioners.
I would do nothing off-colour and nothing that could be misconceived or that someone could potentially take offence to. However, Facebook does allow you can go back and edit the post if needed.
Facebook gives you a lot more room to work with as opposed to Twitter where you have 140 characters, and Instagram which you basically can only do a caption.
However, if you don’t capture your reader in the first sentence they’re not going to read any more, so too long is not good because they’re never going to click on that.
Three or four lines at the most is ideal, and the most important things—as when you are writing a press release—need to go upfront.
I start all my Facebook posts with a hashtag because I link all my Facebook pages directly to Twitter—so then that will go to Twitter and the Tweet will start also with a hashtag. I’m very conscious of how the post will look when it becomes shortened to a tweet at 140 characters followed by a Facebook link.
Plain text doesn’t look great on Facebook. Try to make it look as magazine like as possible. Obviously we’re not Condé Nast, but try to make it pretty and appealing and visually interesting; a lot of different types of content and not repetitive content.
If you post something on Monday don’t post something similar on Tuesday—keep it different. We use #ThrowbackThursday because it’s fun and people smile, they like it. My office hates me for this because it’s so not me, but inspirational quotes get unbelievable amounts of likes and shares.
Boosting a post
Because of the way Facebook works, a lot of the content you put up is not going to be seen by that many people. It may be seen by the people who are your friends, but it gets weeded out very quickly.
However, it is possible for you to boost a post so more of your target audience see it in their newsfeeds—for example, women in the UK aged 25 to 45 who like beauty, cosmetics, Botox or lasers.
This may cost you £30–50, or you can spend thousands if you want. But Facebook will show you right away when you’re putting those analytics in, exactly how many people you could be reaching. So if you’re spending £50, you’re maybe reaching 3,000 to 20,000 people that fall within that target audience.
The more targeted you can be the better. You can target by geographical area and also by gender, level of education and marital status amongst others. It’s a small investment but in my experience it really works.
Hashtags are a very important part of social media marketing now. A Hashtag is a hashtag symbol (#) with a phrase and the phrase is searchable. There are four platforms at least that I know of where you can use hashtags, which would be Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. If you go on Twitter and you want to search for Beauty Secrets, enter #BeautySecrets and you’ll see all the listings where that hashtag was used in tweets.
Try not to create lots of random hashtags because they will not be searchable. It’s fine to create your own branded ones—though they don’t have to be branded. Sometimes you’re better off if they’re not branded because more people will pick them up and then you get some traction.
Twitter is fun but it is time consuming, so if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on Twitter, you could consider automating it. I like putting Facebook to Twitter. Never put Twitter to Facebook.
I think twice daily is a good benchmark for number of posts. The whole idea of a doctor tweeting while he’s in surgery is ridiculous, and in my view, it de-medicalises what you do. You see a lot of this online. I don’t think that’s the doctor you want to be.
Pinterest is pretty and clever, and highly addictive. It skews very heavily female—68% in fact. So if you are operating on, or injecting or lasering women in some way, you probably want to be on Pinterest. It also skews younger.
However, it is extremely time consuming, so the last thing you want to do is have your receptionist, who should be answering the phone and taking care of patients to pay the bills, pinning in the middle of the day.
You start on Pinterest by creating boards. And one thing you should not do is create boards that are named Rhinoplasty, Rhytidectomy, etc. Look for Health and Beauty themes. Before and afters of the 65 year old woman who had a neck lift does not belong on Pinterest. This doesn’t even belong on Google ads. An after picture of an attractive patient who had a great result is okay for Pinterest.
Nothing clinical, ugly or unappealing, nothing bloody or too intense will work. A picture of a laser is not interesting at all. It’s the absolute opposite of what Pinterest is all about.
Pinterest is about celebration and inspiration. Eyes, lips and legs are really popular. Fashion is always good. Celebrities are always good. You should have a caption on every pin that you put up because otherwise it has no identity and that’s not really recognisable. The goal of successful engagement is to get re-pinned or shared; it’s not necessarily followers.
Never re-pin something without giving credit. Just doing a screenshot and posting it on your page, is bad etiquette. With Pinterest you should re-pin it because that person who you’ve re-pinned is much more likely to re-pin your stuff too.
Instagram is fun, and it’s owned by Facebook so it’s not going anywhere, but it takes up a lot of time.
Instagram can be a great platform but you’ve got to have something to take a picture of, so you have to be a little creative.
If you have ugly or amateurish, poorly taken pictures on Instagram they will never be shared and people will unfollow you. The people who are good on Instagram have beautiful taste and know how to manipulate images. They have very high standards because some of the images on Instagram are amazing.
Instagram requires a fair amount of upkeep. You want to include a caption and you want to include a few hashtags. Three is a good number, but I think four, five or six becomes silly.
A lot of the content that you create for Pinterest can be recycled on Instagram. If you sell products in your practice, that’s a perfect thing to put on Instagram, but you’ve got to have something to work with—a picture of a syringe is not the answer. A syringe going in is definitely not the answer.
A product in a beautiful setting, or a lovely smooth forehead on the other hand would be fine. Instagram is on fire, so it is definitely a platform to keep tabs on and consider being on for your clinic.
Google-owned YouTube has a billion users. Original video content is required, so this is another example of when you can’t really recycle content very easily. However, the content you create for YouTube does not have to be professional quality and it’s perfectly fine and common to do it with your iPhone.
Another option is to hire a videographer who could spend a day, or half a day at your practice doing videos of the staff, patients if they’ll allow it, doing a procedure, doing a consultation. One video is not going to be cost effective but to do five, six, ten videos in one day, then it’s going to be worth your while.
Testimonials are the new word of mouth, and because today we’re so unfortunately skewed by reviews and ratings, having videos from real patients talking about their experience in your clinic is the most compelling. You often see on websites, patient letters and cards that are handwritten. It’s charming, but they’re hard to read once you’ve blacked out the patient’s name, the doctors name, what they had done.
It’s fine to do a mix, but there’s nothing more compelling than a real video. We know how important ratings and reviews are, and what other patients are saying about your clinic, so this is a good way to counterbalance some of the ratings and reviews.
It’s something you have control over, but these must be legitimate real patients, it cannot be an actor, it cannot be a member of your staff, it cannot be your sister in law, it really has to be a legitimate patient. Think transparency. People want to hear from other real people who are relatable.
Also bear in mind that what you post should mirror the target audience you’re going after to some degree. A patient doing the talking is word of mouth at its best. I’m very conservative about these things and I ensure there’s an exit strategy, so if the patient decides they don’t want it on your site anymore, they should be able to call you and you should be able to take it down.
With Google Plus you create circles and invite people to join your circles. When I first started on Google Plus I couldn’t find anybody to invite because nobody I knew was on Google Plus. Minimum post is probably daily, and there are lots of things you can do. In my view, G+ is most helpful for SEO value.
Dealing with negative posts
A negative post is really not as bad as it sounds. On Facebook you can take it down in a second. However, I would urge you to think twice before you do that. Of course, if it’s really abusive or it’s fake, then you take it down and you ban the user, but if it’s something about pricing or results—which is actually quite unlikely to come up on Facebook—I would urge you to try to address it, because when you get rid of it you just make someone mad.
If you get rid of it on Facebook, which is the only platform you can really do that on easily, the same person who may be now even more ticked off at you, can post it on Yelp, or create a new account and post it again on Facebook.
I don’t think you’re putting the fire out, you could be inadvertently adding fuel to the fire in a way. So I would be careful about that.
Try to answer in a very positive open way. Apologise, ask how you can help. Get them off that forum and try to get them to either email, direct message you, or call the office or clinic. This also shows your other fans and followers that you’re interested and engaged and not just leaving that out there.
Be every careful about acknowledging any doctor-patient relationship in an open forum.
On Twitter you have no control at all, so if you see a negative tweet it’s generally best to leave it alone. The risk of responding can be worse than leaving it because Twitter is real time and it’s gone in a second.
If you don’t respond in three minutes it’s out there and that’s it, unless it goes viral, but this is highly unlikely if you do nothing. You can send a direct message to the Twitter account, but these may be overlooked.
Best times to post
I like 11 o’clock in the morning and mid-afternoon, but it can go both ways. It depends on who you’re reaching. If you’re in the city and you’re getting secretaries and office people coming in to see you during their lunch hour maybe lunch hour makes more sense.
The only way to really know is to change times and see where you get more engagement, then you figure out a strategy to that degree.
Another mistake is people forgetting that the week has seven days. Just because your clinic isn’t open Sunday doesn’t mean people aren’t on Facebook on Sundays. National holidays are a great time to post because there’s so much more you can say.
You can’t talk about your clinic every single day, people don’t want to hear it. If you toot your own horn every day of every week, people will stop listening and stop paying attention.
This isn’t what social is about. It’s about a dialogue and sharing. The secret to me is that it has to be attractive, appealing, not over the edge, not low class or anything that can be considered off colour.
Everybody thinks social is free and it’s not. That’s a fallacy about social media. It’s not something that you just throw at whoever’s not busy at that moment in the office. It’s got to be done strategically and it’s got to be done by someone who really likes doing it, because if you don’t like it, it will show. And everything today is about transparency.
Consumers are acutely aware of where this is coming from and it’s got to sound real. So, I would urge you to get someone to do this for you—unless you’re female and you really like doing it.
To start with, I would suggest you make a list of everything you need to do social well. Someone has to set these things up for you. Yes you can do it yourself, but I promise you it will not look good or function well.
There are some things that require a programmer and, short of going to programming school, you need someone who actually knows how to do this. You need them to put tabs on a Facebook page and ultimately that really needs to be done by a programmer.
Hootsuite and Tweet Deck are popular ways of managing, automating and giving you analytics on your social media, but you do have to pay for them.
Video is another cost—someone’s got to shoot the video unless you’re going to do it yourself. And don’t forget about staff time, because even if you hire a social media agency they don’t know what you do, so someone on your staff has to be able to direct them, manage them and make sure that what they’re posting about is accurate and not getting into trouble.
Check out exactly what you need and get it in writing before you commit to any contracts. Be very careful as it can be a very sleazy business sometimes. Don’t sign a contract without a lawyer looking at it and make sure that your rights are protected.
You should always own your URL. You can’t let somebody own your Facebook page URL either, so you should really make sure that that’s been done properly. Figure out the frequency of what you need, how many ads you want to do, how many boosted posts, then figure out what it’s going to cost you and really sit down and decide how much you can spend on it and go from there.
This is critical, and there are many ways to do it but all of them are time consuming. Facebook insights are really easy to use and it creates reports, which you can print, download and compare.
They’re really good, you can go back years, months, it will allow you to track best times of day, engagement, figure out what the best measurement is for the strategy that you’ve put in place, and those are the numbers you want to pay the most attention to because there are a lot of different ways to approach this.
Social media presents many challenges for aesthetic clinics. However, the rewards are there for those who are serious about this new form of marketing. Social is here to stay and the sooner you accept it as a vital component of promoting your clinic’s services and products, the faster you will be able to grow a fan and follower base.
Don’t just jump in because you think you have to. It is always best to have a strategy that is developed to address your goals over time, the right people on the team, and a reasonable budget to see results.
And don’t get discouraged because you don’t have thousands of Facebook fans in a month. Like SEO and any other marketing tactic, it takes time to move the needle. These are some of the most important social media trends for 2015, according to a recent survey conducted by TrustRadius:
- 60% of people report that measuring the ROI of social media is their biggest challenge.
- Respondents reported that their primary challenges include: aligning goals, demonstrating value, and deriving insights from data.
- 80% indicated that engagement (likes, shares, comments, followers) is the MOST important metric.
- 32% said leads or new clients are important; 28% said revenue is a key metric.
Wendy Lewis is president of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, Global Aesthetics Consultancy. Lewis is a frequent presenter at international conferences. In 2008, she founded Beautyinthebag.com and has served as Editor in Chief. The author of 11 books, her next, Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age (CRC Press) will be published Winter 2015.