PTPN Insights

Social media: Is it part of your marketing plan?

April 22nd, 2013 |

Social media: Is it part of your marketing plan?Are you using social media to market your therapy practice? While social media will not replace more traditional marketing methods, such as advertising, direct mail and email, it’s one more way to build customer relationships and attract new business.

Social media is a popular, immediate and intimate way to communicate with many audiences. And it’s not just for young people — the fastest growing segment on Facebook is people 25 and older.

In addition, participating in social media adds to your online presence — being active on sites like Facebook can boost the search results for your clinic and drive more people to your website, making your clinic easier to find online. It also creates the impression that your business is cutting-edge and thriving. Perhaps most importantly, marketing via social media means you’re going where these customers already are, which is much easier (and cheaper!) than getting them to come to you.

If you haven’t used social media for your clinic before, here are some tips on how to get started.

  1. Identify your champion. Who will be spearheading your social media marketing activities? “Me” might not be the best answer. For best results, identify someone who is an avid social media user. It may or may not be someone on staff — consider an intern or an outside company if you don’t have the time or expertise in house.

  2. Develop your plan. Review the options available and determine how you’re going to use social media to market your practice. Create a plan that includes overall goals, specific tactics, due dates/timelines, measurements, and responsible parties. Start with business goals, not with specific social media sites, then think of ways to use social media to meet those goals. For example, start with a goal like, “Increase new cash-pay fitness clients from the area high schools,” not “Create a Facebook page.” PTPN and PTPN Nexus members can access a variety of resources through the PTPN Social Media Marketing Toolkit (available after logging in at, including a Social Media Planning Matrix.

  3. Make content generation an ongoing, all-hands-on-deck activity. Creating fresh, engaging content is the biggest challenge in social media marketing. Finding ways to incorporate it into your and your employees’ daily routines is key. Members can check out the Content Generation Guide in our Social Media Marketing Toolkit for more information.

  4. Ask for feedback. Once you’re up and running, get your colleagues, friends, family and employees to monitor your social media, then ask for their feedback. Ask your social media followers for their input. Use that information to adjust your social media plan as needed.

Remember that different marketing and business goals will lead you to different social media sites. Twitter is a good place to follow journals and organizations in order to gather clinical content for your website and social media feeds. LinkedIn will allow you to connect with other physical therapists and to build your professional network. Posting videos of physical therapy exercises to YouTube can give existing clients a resource on proper technique for their at-home exercises, physicians a chance to see your practice in action, and potential patients an idea of your clinical knowledge. And Facebook is a great place to build an online community and to show your fans the kind of work that you do at your clinic, which can lead to new business. When PTPN member Lee Couret, of Southshore Physical Therapy in Metairie, LA, posted some photos of children in his CATZ sports conditioning program on Facebook, a local daycare center owner saw them and asked Lee if he could conduct a class once a week at her center.

Your number one goal of any activity online, including social media, should be to build your online reputation. David Straight, the founder of E-rehab (a PTPN Preferred Vendor), says, “The most popular way people search for a clinician will be a name search or reputation search via Google (or another search engine).” This is why you want to make sure that the first page of search results has a variety of listings for your clinic, which is where having ratings via Yelp or Google, plus a website and Facebook page, can help.

Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t start pages on sites like Facebook or Twitter if you’re not willing to make a commitment to devoting the time and energy to social media. David cautions, “If you’re linking to Facebook, make sure you’re active — it’s better to have no link to Facebook than no activity on an existing page, or activity that’s a year (or several years) old.”

In this challenging economy and changing healthcare environment, your marketing needs to be compelling and productive in order to build and maintain your practice. Social media is one way to help your clinic stand out from the rest of the pack. For more ideas on how to market your clinic, read our post on making practice marketing a priority in 2013.

A special thanks to our contributor:

David Straight David Straight, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist and the founder of E-rehab (a PTPN Preferred Vendor), a website management company that caters to physical therapists. He has been involved in web and e‑commerce development since 1996.

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For further information:

Making practice marketing a priority in 2013. PTPN, February 8, 2013.

Pew survey of Americans’ online health habits. California Healthcare Foundation, January 2013.

Girard, Genae. Social media success. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, November 14, 2011.

Laporte, Matthew. Site seeing. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, April 12, 2011.

Frellick, Marcia. Net gains. Today in PT, February 14, 2011.

Saeks, Ford. Fresh content is the new king. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, December 28, 2010.