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Social media marketing for chiropractors

Advertising in conventional media doesn’t always deliver

A common experience amongst chiropractors today is that the conventional media they have used in the past to attract new patients and referrals – mostly local press – doesn’t fully deliver the desired results anymore.

The Internet is the major arena for health ‘conversations’

The health ‘conversations’ which used to be concentrated in the social fora of friends and family, Health Care Professionals and Alternative Practitioners and, to some extent, in the conventional media have expanded exponentially onto the internet. A Health Pulse survey conducted by BUPA in 2012 found that 87% of people globally and 83% of people in the UK used the internet for health related activities – about one third looking for advice on a condition from which either they or a friend/family member suffers.

Tightening our focus to the chiropractic industry, the chart below demonstrates the dramatic growth in Google searches for the term ‘chiropractor’ alone.

chiropractic social media marketing UK

Of course all chiropractors are aware that an Internet presence is essential in the twenty-first century.  But a presence alone is not really enough; SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial and any practitioner (or web manager) can check a clinic’s Google position to establish the website’s position on keywords and search terms.  Plus, these days it is increasingly important to ensure that a website mobile–friendly – as smartphones and tablets replace computers as consumers’ search tools of choice.

Social media is the fastest personal recommendation tool in history

Most chiropractors report that personal recommendations from existing and/or past clients are their primary source of new business.  In simple terms, social media accelerates this process of recommendation and relationship building.  Every time a practice posts on social media, that post is disseminated through their followers to all their friends. The essential power of social media is that it is the fastest, most effective personal recommendation marketing tool in history.

But it is important, especially when a practitioner is evaluating social media performance and ROI (return on investment) to remember that social media is about relationship and reputation building rather than direct selling.  Although of course a practice can use advertising on social media strategically to boost their SEO position, and all the research evidence points to the fact that very few people look beyond page one of a web search.

How can chiropractors optimise their social media marketing?

Like any other marketing medium, the short but not simple answer is by having a carefully considered social media marketing strategy. So thinking through the key dimensions of a typical strategy:

Set clear objectives

It is essential to set clear objectives for any social media activity – for example these may be:

* To widen the clinic’s potential patient relationship base by x% (e.g. increase numbers of followers on Facebook)

* Develop a reputation as the  leading authority of chiropractic within the local area

* Reinforce relationships with existing clients

These are the type of key factors to be considered when setting objectives.  In the end, a practitioner will want to evaluate the cost effectiveness of any social media marketing, and to do this, objectives are needed against which to measure success.

Define a target audience and demographic

Social media is a very precise tool in terms of targeting because users make their interests obvious through their search profiles. So if a practitioner wants to focus activity on older gardeners, young pregnant mums, winter skiers, older men with back problems – all of this is possible. Social media (like traditional broadcast media) not only allows practitioners to be precise in who to target, as well as  when to target them, ideally the times when the chosen audience is online.

Be realistic about the effort required to manage social media marketing campaigns

Managing a practice’s social media marketing requires dedication and careful thought. To build an effective social media presence requires frequent posting, monitoring and responding to comments and, ideally, following trends and activity in competitive context, e.g. other chiropractors in the area, other alternative practitioners etc. Many chiropractors have started off managing their own social media marketing full of good intentions and determination – but most have found it impossible to maintain the level of commitment required and do their jobs at the same time.

Managing social media marketing requires more than dedication, it also demands a precise understanding of the potential legal issues, notably complaints to the GCC or ASA about apparent health benefit claims.  There are also unexpected pitfalls , for example, if a practitioner uses an image which has been directly taken from a Google search and reposts it on the clinic’s own social media account, this can be determined as ‘passing off’ and cause potential problems with the copyright owner.

If using an agency – make sure they understand the practice’s brand culture

Every chiropractic practice is a brand, like any other service product.  Although the treatments offered may sound the same as other chiropractic clinics, the specialisms, the way in which a practitioner behaves towards patients, the atmosphere of the clinic, etc. will all be specific to each practice. If a practitioner decides to delegate any aspect of social media marketing to an agency, then it is crucial that the agency understands the practice’s values and culture, so that they can capture the correct tonality in their posts, reflecting the character of all the clinic’s other communications.

It is important to designate one staff member as a social media manager to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the account through an agency. Multiple client contact points can lead to misinformation.

Think broadly when planning communications

The key to building a chiropractic brand’s salience and reputation as well as a loyal social media following is not to focus solely on news about the practice. It is important to broaden the scope of communications to include other health-related information, or information about the local area. This way, social media pages can become a local health and/or events directory and can appeal to a wider audience.

Content planning to reflect brand and build local reputation

With the dual objectives of projecting a clinic’s chiropractic brand culture and building a local reputation, it is important to be disciplined about the content being served. Therefore it is important to plan all content and communications well in advance – although there will be some spontaneous content, relying on ad hoc content is a recipe for loss of control.

Evaluating social media performance and refining strategy

Measuring precise ROI is never easy, but social media does offer a range of tools (Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and Facebook Insights) which will enable a practitioner to track progress. These metrics might include building a Facebook following, the number of likes that posts receive, which demographics are responding to communications, etc.  It is important to assess progress on these metrics and against the social media marketing objectives, to keep refining and developing a strategy.

Social media tools offer many ways of deepening relationships with existing clients and through them to attract new users. But gaining these benefits demands planning and setting aside time every week to monitor social media marketing activities.

Cloud Social Media specialise in chiropractic social media marketing, providing consultancy and fully-managed social media marketing campaigns for UK chiropractors. Subscriptions start at £125 per month including a 10% Facebook advertising budget. To discuss social media for a UK chiropractic practice in confidence, or for further information, call 0800 689 1495 / 01202 830615, emailhello@cloudsocialmedia.co.uk or visit http://www.cloudsocialmedia.co.uk/about-us/case-studies/

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