Creating an online community around your brand is essential in today’s age of content noise. It is important that you are aware of some of the different strategies for effectively interacting with your audience with a view to turning your patients and potential patients into part of a well-engaged community.
One of the first rules of content is that it has to be relevant and useful. This is especially true of social media content since it is where you are most likely to encourage discussion and where you will see the highest rates of engagement! Everything that you share needs to be relevant to physical therapy. We all know that one person who can't shut up and ends up rambling about multiple topics. We get bored very quickly and stop engaging in the conversation because we no longer care about what they have to say. That is exactly what happens with social media if you go off piste too much. Your followers will get bored and stop checking out your content. Think about how you first presented yourself to these people – what made them interested? Stick to that topic and they will stick around to hear what you have to say!
If you want people to feel welcome and like they are part of a community, then you need to commit to checking your social media accounts regularly throughout the day so that you can respond to comments and questions in a timely fashion. If someone takes the time to reach out to you online then the least you can do is respond to them as soon as possible. The internet is all about instant communication, so the faster you can reply to people, the better they will rank you in terms of customer service. It is also important to participate in the discussions on your page. The more active you are the more people will engage with you.
Marketing is all about selling yourself, right? So it may seem counter productive to tell you to go easy on the self promotion. However, the biggest way to turn off social media followers is to spend to much time on shameless plugs for your clinic. Your patients want to feel part of your community, so lay off the hard sell and instead invest some time and effort into engaging people in conversation and offering them some valuable information. A good rule of thumb is to aim for only one in three posts to be of a promotional nature and even then, try not to be in your face about it!
It's not all about what happens online! As a physical therapist, you are in the unique position of being able to work with the local community to implement new initiatives designed to get people moving more. It is a great idea to work with the local leisure and recreation body to organize community activities such as walking and cycling events. This is a great way to improve your visibility in the community while also providing opportunities to build face to face relationships with the local people who will at some time be in need of your services. You could also offer to deliver educational programs to various sections of the community, such as teaching seniors how to stay active. These programs and initiatives can also be advertised on your website and social media accounts.
Above all else, it is important to let your personality shine if you are to have any hope of engaging with your online community. They need to understand that you are a real live human and not a faceless robot. Interact with people using a genuine voice that will make it easier for them to engage with you.
Building up a community around your physical therapy clinic begins with a strong online presence. If you need help with your website and social media performance then check out some examples of PatientSites in action.
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