Social Media for Osteopaths: How to Get Patients From Social Media
Inside the blog
Social media for osteopaths: before you get started
Osteopaths seem to understand the power of social media but fail to keep at it for numerous reasons. Does this sound like you?
- “I don’t understand it.”
- “What am I allowed to post?”
- “I don’t know what to post.”
- “I haven’t got time to post.”
- “I lack the motivation to post.”
- “I’m not sure why I should be on social media.”
For osteopaths, social media is an online extension of word-of-mouth. And like having a clinic logo, an online presence is essential for osteopaths. If you can harness the power of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, you can make your reputation as a credible osteopath flourish.
The benefits of social media for osteopaths include:
- Increases website visits
- Builds trust & credibility
- Showcases your facilities
- Boosts SEO & website ranking
- Creates unlimited word-of-mouth
- Elevates you above your competition
But, social media requires you to show up consistently
Consistently showing up means logging in to post meaningful content and engage with other people and businesses at least a couple of times a week, every week, year in and year out. Social media is a long-term game. So please take that into serious consideration before you jump into social media. It’s a powerful marketing tool, but it is by no means compulsory or the only option when considering online marketing.
Let’s break down the basics that you must understand before tackling social media as an osteopath. Then, we’ll give you our top 3 platform recommendations for you or your clinic. There will be plenty of links to excellent articles and resources we recommend if you want to know more about a specific subject. So, let’s dive right in.
What’s your goal? Hint: it’s not to get patients
What do you desire from social media?
- New patients?
- More website visitors?
- Building awareness in your local community?
- Do you even enjoy being on social media?
Of course, we all want patients through the door. But this is about setting realistic expectations. Just because you decide to give social media a go doesn’t mean that you’ll get new patients straight away. It’s essential to avoid feeling demoralised by setting your expectations from the beginning. You may get many patients one week, followed by several weeks of nothing.
Instead of thinking that the only good thing to come from social media is patients, try shifting your mentality towards other benefits. These include increased awareness, improving digital word of mouth or building trust between you and your online community. These factors accumulate together to bring patients through the door.
Social media is about being social; it’s not a platform to sell
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are used to create communities and build relationships. The more you give to your followers, the more you’ll get back from them.
For osteopaths, building a community on social media is more than a group of people who sometimes ‘Like’ your posts. It’s about bringing people together who believe you can help more than just themselves. They follow, engage and share your content because they believe in what you do and why you do it; they want others to ‘discover you’ the same way they did.
Jab, jab, jab, right hook
Gary Vee’s book ‘Jab, jab, jab, right hook’ outlines the importance of providing genuine value to people (jab) and continuing to give and give (jab, jab) before asking for anything in return (right hook). Consistently providing value leads to higher acceptance when you ask for something like an email address, website visit, or booking in a treatment.
It isn’t enjoyable when you follow someone who constantly tries to sell something to you. The last thing you need is to sound like the annoying, ignorant salesperson who wants nothing but your money. The research supports this too. According to Sprout Social, 46% of people unfollow businesses on social media due to too many promotional posts.
The best social media platforms for osteopaths
Choose one social media platform
You’re probably thinking that being across a few social media platforms is the best option, right? Well, as with everything, it’s better to focus on doing one thing at a time to the best of your ability rather than running your energy and efforts thin. We suggest sticking to one social media platform for at least one year so you can know everything inside and out. What works, what doesn’t work, what features to use, what new features do etc.
We suggest Facebook, Instagram or YouTube because they are fantastic platforms for promoting the types of things osteopaths do. For example, Instagram boasts a core community in the health and fitness sector. YouTube is one of the best places to learn how to do almost anything for free. While Twitter, Linkedin and TikTok are all great platforms and extremely popular, their primary features don’t complement what osteopaths are generally on social media.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
Let’s look deeper into our top 3 platforms we suggest for osteopaths to consider. We’ve listed the qualities you may have that would allow you to thrive on that platform.
Disclaimer: We’ve recommended specific social media platforms depending on your strengths, but all recommendations can be applied across all platforms. The best choice for you is the space you feel most comfortable using.
- Comfortable talking with lots of people on their own and in different Pages and Groups within Facebook.
- Show their work- whether with animals, exercise, nutrition, opinions or life behind the scenes.
- Want to educate and share exercise and rehabilitation information on camera.
Pros and cons of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
- Large audience reach
- Ability to grow organically
- Capable of talking to people directly
- Plenty of places to use free stock images
- Can separate personal accounts from professional business pages/groups/accounts
- Can turn comments off on Facebook and YouTube, and diminish comments to those who you follow on Instagram, but this will limit reach, engagement and connection
- Time-consuming – creating content, replying to comments and messages, reaching out into other spaces on the same platform
- Algorithm’s way or the highway. Always changing too
Pros and cons of Facebook
- Easy to set up, control and use across a variety of devices
- Strongest community platform. Especially due to Groups (others and your own)
- Facebook Ads offer excellent micro-targeting and powerful when used correctly
- Diminishing organic reach
- Facebook is quickly becoming a pay-to-be-seen platform
- Managing any size of community can be stressful and put pressure on you to keep in contact
- Communities can become toxic if not appropriately managed, and from the start
Watch: Pros & Cons of Facebook
Watch Osteohustle’s Alan talk about the pros and cons of Facebook from our course The Social Media Academy For Osteopaths.
Pros and cons of Instagram
- Everything you need can be achieved using an excellent mobile app
- Plenty of places to use free stock images
- In our opinion, easier to grow to 1000 followers than Facebook Page Likes and YouTube Subscribers
- Hashtags are most powerful on Instagram
- Although powerful, there are lots of new features which can be challenging to keep up with
- No clickable links
- Arguably the most saturated platform with health and fitness brands
Pros and cons of YouTube
- It can be monetised on YouTube after gaining 1000 subscribers and have at least 4000 watch hours in the past 12 months
- Only have to post once a week to do well with the algorithm. It can be found in search engine results
- The best platform to commit to if your primary focus is to educate your followers.
- The platform acts as a well organised online resource for your patients
- Anyone can put an ad before your video. No control.
- Involves the most amount of video editing (can outsource)
- Involves the most amount of equipment (kind of) needed
Summary: Choose a platform that utilises your strengths and is a valuable feature on that social media platform.
Narrow your niche to stand out on social media
A few paragraphs back, we introduced Jab, jab, jab, right hook. Now that we understand which platform you might focus on let’s revisit that concept. How do you give genuine value consistently to receive when you ask for something in return? It takes effort and planning. What you put into social media will determine what you’ll get out of it, which is why it’s essential to have a clear goal for the social media platform you choose.
You need to refine all your social media basics to excel. We’ve looked at refining from many platforms down to one. Over the following few sections, we’re going to look at narrowing down the type of content you post, who you speak to and when you communicate with them.
Who are you posting for?
If you haven’t already, take this opportunity to read how branding will fix your marketing forever. In that article, I talk about the importance of having a strong brand to find direction.
- Who are the people that you love treating?
- Are you talking to them when you post on social media?
- How can you narrow your niche to stand out?
Think about the things that stop you from scrolling.
- What words or pictures grab your attention?
- What type of content speaks to the people you want to connect with?
- What is the tone of that brand you like so much?
Content: planning, creation and action
What is social media content?
I often see osteopaths approaching social media as an advertising platform. Social media is just that- social. As I said at the start of this article, we need to reframe our thinking of social media advertising; it needs to be less about trying to “sell” osteopathy and more about building genuine connections on the platform you choose and using the medium of photos, words and videos to speak to the people you wish to connect to in your local area. You can learn more about this, in-depth, inside The Social Media Academy For Osteopaths.
Not everything is about osteopathy; it can be about what you’re doing that day, general health and fitness advice, healthy recipes etc. This excellent article by Marketing Interactive explains that people don’t buy your products; they buy the stories you tell.
The importance of a content calendar
Having a content planner or calendar is essential to take your social media to the next level. Choose a topic to focus on for a month and create your content around that theme. Keep your patients in mind. Have you seen a rise in arthritic pain due to the weather lately? Create one month worth of posts around reducing arthritic pain. We’ll go into how to create content later.
We’ve created the perfect Social Media Companion For Osteopaths for all your content planning, scheduling and tracking. You can take a look inside over here.
The importance of visual consistency
Your brand should colour everything you do on your social media. Take why you do what you do, and tell that to the type of people you want to treat. My number one secret weapon I tell all osteopaths about is Canva.com. If you haven’t already discovered Canva, go and have a look.
I love Canva because it allows you to create professional, branded products for free. This includes leaflets, business cards, Facebook and Instagram posts, video thumbnails, posters, banners, Instagram stories, letterheads, patient notes paper, vouchers, flyers and more. I highly recommend paying the small subscription for Canva premium. Still, it is a hugely powerful tool even if you choose to stay with the free version.
Content creation-related tools
I’ve spoken enough about Canva. Let’s discuss Hootsuite and Later. These websites are designed to make scheduling posts across multiple platforms easier. Comparecamp goes through a more in-depth comparison.
No matter which platform you choose, you will need a smartphone with a good camera for photo and videos. I’m not saying to upgrade instantly, but please consider the camera on your phone next time you upgrade.
If you’re focusing on YouTube, editing will be essential. There are many free options for editing software out there. I use iMovie, but other options include inVideo and Vizmato. You can compare the two video editors over at FinancesOnline.
Staying within advertising guidelines
Please do your own research on advertising guidelines in your region. National marketing guidelines for osteopaths and healthcare professionals are excellently laid out for us. Here are some quick links for those of you in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Actioning your social media strategy
How often should you post content?
How often to post depends on your ability to maintain that level of consistency. I’ll break down the general guidelines for each of our three platforms below, but the number one priority is consistency. If you can consistently post two quality Facebook posts per week at regular times for a year, that is far better than fluctuating between 10 and 20 posts a month at unpredictable times. As we outlined, one of the benefits of YouTube is the ability to be successful on there without posting daily.
- An unwritten general rule for YouTube is one video a week, posted simultaneously and day each week. For example- 8 pm every Tuesday.
- Socialbuddy.com says, “Aim to post on Instagram between one to three times per day. Major brands post on average of 1.5 times per day, so if you aim to follow the same rule, you should do well.”
- The 1-3 times a day rule can also be applied to Facebook. Buffer.com post to Facebook 2 times per day, seven days a week, at 10:08 am and 3:04 pm.
Buffer has a full breakdown of their social media posting schedule.
Pay attention to new social media features
Platform changes often, you must keep up with the updates
Features on social media change constantly. I want this to be relevant for more than three months, so I’m not going to outline the exact features of each of our three platforms. By the time I finish typing this, they will have inevitably changed. So instead, I’ll outline why you should use as many of the features on a social media platform as possible and focus on any newly introduced features.
Let’s define what I mean by “features”. The most common features that you will be familiar with are our stories on Instagram and IGTV, reels, carousel posts, and highlights. Facebook has tonnes of features, including stories, polls, groups, rooms, and live. YouTube is the least ‘feature’ heavy platform, where most of the features affect the uploading process- like uploading a thumbnail and turning on comments.
Social media platforms aim to keep you and the people who engage with you on the platform for as long as possible. Moreover, they want people to use the new features to have positive statistics about evolving the platform. Therefore, you’ll get rewards from their algorithms for using multiple platform features and heavily using new features.
Platforms change what they deem to be meaningful
99firms.com explains this perfectly, using Facebook Live as an example. “The changes in Facebook’s 2018 News Feed algorithm focused on encouraging meaningful interactions, where comments, reactions, and shares get priority over passive actions such as clicking the Like button. One of the crucial new ranking signals is the type of content users post. What does this have to do with Facebook Live? Well, Facebook’s live videos encourage the meaningful interactions the 2018 algorithm is all about.”
So when you’re creating your social media plan, keep in mind not only what you’re going to say but also how you’re going to deliver it. A great way to use multiple features on Instagram and Facebook is to use one post for numerous purposes. Upload an Instagram post, then share it on your Instagram story with the hashtag #newpost. Do the same with Facebook posts, then go live for a few seconds talking about the post you uploaded and opening up a Q&A about the post topic.
Osteopaths measuring their social media success
Success on social media depends on your goals. Having 10,000 followers means nothing if that number is made of 9,999 other osteopaths and your mum (love you, mum). Similarly, having only three comments on a post doesn’t mean that post is useless if those three comments are all enquiries about booking an appointment.
As an osteopath, the main focus of your KPIs should be overall engagement. It would be best if you were aiming to have people commenting, liking or sharing your content as that indicates to you that it’s providing your followers with value.
Using social media to build an email list
You don’t control social media, but you do control your mail list
One of your social media goals should be to grow your email list. Having an email list is a pillar of marketing for many reasons. Getting people from your social media to sign up for your emailing list benefits you because that list is yours. That platform ultimately owns connections on social media. However, an emailing list is a guaranteed way for you to continue contacting people you’ve connected with. People are more likely to engage with you via email than on social media.
Here’s the stats
According to Optinmonster.com, the conversion rate of emails is 6.05% compared to 1.9% for social media. Furthermore, it has a 22.86% open rate compared to a 0.58% engagement rate. This means that more people are more likely to read what you’re saying and act on something you ask them to in email compared to social media. People actively demonstrate that they trust you because they’re giving you more access to their time.
Another benefit of email is that it gives subscribers a direct, professional link to you via email rather than a social media comment or DM. You can use that professional link to welcome people to ask you more detailed questions or explore your website. Suppose you’d like to direct people from your social media to your website or email. In that case, it’s best to post links in Linktree on Instagram or in the comments section on Facebook or Youtube. We don’t recommend putting outside links into your main text because the algorithm picks that up and will punish your post because of it. Links are currently un-clickable on Instagram.
A quick word about MailChimp
Mailchimp may be the best-known email marketing tool. However, there are multiple better options for you to choose from, in my experience. We have recently changed over to GetResponse, which the team have found incredible. It’s super easy to transfer your contacts too. If you don’t have an email collector yet, you need GetResponse or MailerLite.
The best choice is GetResponse.
The best free choice is MailerLite.
Outsourcing your social media
Within the clinic
An option for clinic owners with associates is to tap into their associate’s talents. Investing in your associates by up-skilling them or utilising their talents builds up your clinic higher than ever. It can establish systems that you can teach the next lucky associate. Or, at the very least, you can feel good knowing that you’ve just helped the profession of osteopathy by giving someone a career-long skill.
Outside of the clinic
There are plenty of social media managers specialising in allied health; some are, in fact, osteopaths themselves.
Social media managers will take a lot of the work out of understanding and analysing your social media for you. However, you have to understand that managers can keep you informed, but they aren’t you. You will still need to be in the comments and answering peoples questions to give them your honest advice or opinion.
A social media manager can analyse, create a plan and reach social media goals for you. However, they cannot make one-to-one relationships with people in your area. If you want to cultivate relationships online, you are the only person that can do so.
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