One aspect of the Internet has gone from a curiosity that a few young and tech-minded folks enjoyed, to a mainstream staple of everyday life: social media. Nowadays it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter or some other type of social profile. Social media isn’t the passing fad many people believed it would be—which is why it’s increasingly important for your practice to be on it.

Your Practice Is Social, Too

Many doctors don’t understand why their practice really needs to be represented on something like Facebook or Pinterest. The truth is, social media marketing is a necessary part of having a well-rounded online presence. It allows you to meet your patients where they already spend time and actively engage with them. Places like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are some of the main platforms where people “discover” interesting content. Friends or pages that they’ve liked share articles, blogs, pictures, videos, and so forth, allowing them to see the content and engage with it as well. This drives traffic to your website, too.

Social media marketing also allows you to show your practice’s humanity—after all, people prefer to work and interact with people over vague businesses or corporations.

So Which Platforms Do You Use?

There’s a dizzying array of social media platforms, and it seems like new ones pop up all the time, only to disappear or be overwhelmed by a competitor after just a little while. So which ones do you invest in? That might depend. Since the purpose social media is to meet your patients where they already are, you want to spend your time on the profiles the people in your area actually use.

The specifics of which are the best may vary from practice to practice, but in general, you should maintain a presence on the “big five”: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Additional platforms like YouTube are also a good idea, but you have to be able to produce content specifically made for them.

Keep in mind, each social platform serves a slightly different purpose and meets a slightly different audience. Twitter is short and to the point. Facebook allows for a lot of shares and longer content. Pinterest is entirely visual and builds on not just photos, but infographics and other visual forms. You may find you have a better response on one platform than others. While you shouldn’t neglect certain social media profiles to interact more on another, if one platform serves your practice better, you certainly should invest more time there.

Use Your Social Media Responsibly

There are definitely right and wrong ways to use your social media. Always remember that marketing of any kind, and especially on social media, isn’t really about you—it’s about your potential patients. The right posts keep people interested, drive traffic to your website, and increase people’s awareness about you and your practice. The wrong posts get ignored.

Interact with people. If people comment on something, tweet at you, or otherwise interact with a post, make sure you don’t ignore them! Use that opportunity to address concerns or to say “thanks” at the very least.

Be patient. Social media followings take time to build. Don’t assume your marketing is failing because you don’t immediately get dozens of likes when you share content.

Share interesting things. Make sure everything you post online is interesting to the people you’re trying to reach, not just you. Don’t be boring or always the same. Keep it lighthearted and friendly. Use this opportunity to connect with people’s many interests and share information or pictures.

Avoid being spammy. If you only talk about yourself, only promote one thing, or only post calls-to-action, you’re just spam clogging up everyone’s social media. Posting constantly, even when it’s otherwise interesting information, has a similar effect. People will consider you spam and filter you out.