Facebook is a great place to connect and build relationships with both current and potential patients. However, simply having a Facebook page isn’t enough to build up trust among your audience–you need to post regularly, and post the things your audience wants to see.
Whether your practice is new to Facebook, or you’ve had a page for awhile, you can probably learn a few things from observing Facebook success stories from other practices. These are some of the ways our clients have used their Facebook pages to build trust and drive engagement.
1. First, you need to cover the basics.
Before you get into Facebook posting tactics, you need to make sure you have all of the basic information filled out. Do you have a good profile picture? Do you have a banner image? Do you have your office address, website, and hours of operation on your page? At the very least, this information should be filled out on your profile. You should also consider filling out the About section of your profile to give patients more information about your practice, your specialties, and your philosophy. All of these items are pretty quick fixes that can make a big difference in how your Facebook page is viewed by visitors. What good is building up trust with patients if they don’t know who you are, where to find you, and when you are available?
If you need help preparing your Facebook page to match your established branding, we can certainly help. We’ve worked with numerous orthopedic practices to help convey a professional approach to communication with patients.
2. Give health tips.
You don’t need to constantly “sell” your practice to your Facebook fans to demonstrate that you are trustworthy and knowledgeable about what you do. People aren’t necessarily on Facebook to find a new doctor; they get on Facebook to socialize and have discussions with other people. They could be discussing health-related topics and sharing symptoms and experiences or even health-related content, but that doesn’t mean you should jump into the conversation and recommend your practice.
In this case, the way to build up trust is to share health tips and information about different conditions and procedures. You can share quick tips within your posts, share your own blog content, or share helpful articles from other trusted sources. Show patients that you know what you’re talking about, rather than tell them. Patients will be more likely to book an appointment if they don’t feel like they are being “sold” on the idea.
3. Use visuals to illustrate your point.
Posts with images are certainly more attention-grabbing than those that do not contain images. Images can help to explain and enhance your posts. Images also drive more engagement. A study found that posts containing photos made up 87% of the posts shared on Facebook. In comparison, posts with links only made up 4% of the total shared posts. You can share photos of patients (with their consent), events, or pictures from around the office. Infographics are another great way to attract attention and share health tips or important information. They are both informative and eye-catching, and they are easy for your followers to share on their pages.
4. Talk about community events.
Getting involved in community and charity events is another way to build trust with patients. It shows that you care about what goes on in the community outside your office. It also drives home the point that you are here to help. This is one type of post where sharing images is particularly helpful. You can also use these types of posts to motivate others to get involved in the community.
5. Give glimpses of what happens around your office.
Share some of the interesting or fun things that happen around your office, like birthday celebrations, staff members dressed up for Halloween, or fun times with patients (just get permission before posting). Patients want to know that you’re serious about their healthcare, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep a serious tone with all of your posts. People want to know that you and your office staff are friendly and relatable. People are generally going to your office because they have some sort of ailment; it’s good to know that your doctors and nurses can lighten the mood when needed.
6. Ask patients for their opinions.
Now that patients have access to more health information than ever, they want to be more actively involved in their healthcare. Patients are asking more questions and making informed decisions about their own health, and they want a doctor who encourages those things. One way to show patients that you care about their opinions and want them to be informed is to ask questions on your Facebook page. You can get a discussion going to see how patients feel about certain issues, like your patient portal or the information they are given in your office. Maybe there are some things that your practice could improve upon to make the experience better. You’ll never be able to make every single person completely happy, but the fact that you are even concerned at all about patient opinions will say a lot to many of your Facebook followers.
7. Respond to reviews and feedback–positive and negative.
Practices are often nervous about the feedback they will get on Facebook, both in reviews and in comments on posts. Unfortunately, it comes along with the territory on social media. It’s important that you respond in some way, even if the comment is negative. A positive comment or review may only need a simple “thank you” or even just a “like.” Positive reviews and comments can certainly influence other patients’ trust in your practice.
However, responding to negative reviews is just as important, if not more so. If you respond to negative comments in a professional manner and show that you want to try to resolve the issue, you can turn a negative comment into a positive situation, and other patients will see that. You have to be careful not to post any private patient information on Facebook, but don’t use a canned response for negative reviews, either–it will come across as insincere. Instead, do what you can to address the issue in your response, and provide a way for the patient to contact you in private to further discuss the issue.
8. Share patient success stories.
You’ll need to get permission from your patients before you can post about them, but you’ll usually find that patients who have had a very positive experience are happy to share it with others. If you have any patients who have an interesting story and have done really well under your care, ask them if you can share that story on your Facebook page. People like to hear inspiring stories, and that type of content tends to do well on social media. Again, you’re showing patients that you can help them, rather than expecting them to take your word for it.
Give these tips a try to see what works for your practice. It may take some time to get the level of engagement you want on Facebook, but you can reap the benefits if you stick with it.