Often clients ask how much time they should be committing to social media for their business. The answer is that it depends. It depends on your existing demographic audience, as well as your potential target audience.
The four best social media platforms for building a business (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn) vary in their users' ages. According to 2014 statistics on the blog Jetscram, the majority of Facebook users are 33 to 54 years old. Twitter and Instagram attract younger audiences, with the majority of users from 18 to 29 years old. LinkedIn, known primarily as a business platform, has a broader demographic reach, with 27 percent of all LinkedIn users ages 30 to 49 and 24 percent of users aged 50 to 64.
We haven’t listed YouTube here as a primary platform, but it is essential in getting larger open rates for other platforms. The more video, the greater chance someone will watch and share your content. So, if you’re going to engage in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to set up a YouTube channel. You don’t have to be as rigorous about regular posting to YouTube. Instead, you can use it as a mechanism to post video that you’ll pull into your other social media platforms as you have it.
Social media is about content and time. If you don’t have the time to commit to creating and pulling good content, don’t do it. Ideally, you should post at least three times a week. Getting the greatest engagement is dictated by content and timing. What day and time of the week you post makes a difference for each social platform. Since LinkedIn is primarily a business platform, weekday posting provides the opportunity for the greatest engagement. There have been multiple studies as to best timing.
Have a Plan
As is critical with public relations planning, you should have a strategic social media plan. Look at the ages of the majority of your patients and determine whether they’re on social media. Decide if your goal is to grow your practice or company with more of the same demographic. If your goal is to grow a different demographic, look at the majority of the ages using the various social media platforms. Your goal with social media will help to determine where you should be. For instance, if your goal is to grow your practice with older patients, but you want to recruit younger talent for employment, you will have two different strategic focuses on your social media platforms. You may have information on hearing health for aging populations on your Facebook posts and information on the audiology profession and what it’s like to be an audiologist on your Instagram account.
Content does not all have to be original. Your patients are going to have an interest in your specialty areas. While you may write some original articles and post them about specific conditions such as tinnitus, you can also set up website alerts that flag content on tinnitus studies and recommended treatments around the world. In other words, you can share content from other social media sites. Just make sure they’re not competitor sites. A Google alert set for “hearing health” will deliver regular reports and studies that may be of interest to your patients. You can post these reports and studies (assuming you agree with them) with attribution and comment on these within your post. New technology and new products may also be of interest to your patients.
Mapping out a monthly content calendar will help you plan out when and what to post. Once you decide to engage in social media for your business, be sure to put all of your social media handles on your e-mail signature. Send an e-mail to patients and ask them to follow you on your social media sites and share your content. Follow your patients on these sites.
Create Meaningful Content
LinkedIn is an excellent platform for business-to-business communication, as well as acquiring patients and referrals. It provides an opportunity for you to write your own news articles and post them. You can also pull in good video. Have someone in your office assist in demonstrating a hearing check-up. Walk viewers through your office and talk about audiology, your areas of expertise, and how you became an audiologist. Again, make a calendar and figure out one LinkedIn article post per week. If you have a particular time of year that’s slow, you can write all of your content then and just schedule the posts.
Make your content relevant. Because many LinkedIn members are business people, write about hearing-health hazards in the workplace and how to protect hearing health. You may also want to cover ways in which someone in an office setting may realize they’re having difficulty with their hearing. Write about how loss of hearing affects job productivity.
It’s important to remember that social media works if you keep the public’s interest in mind. It is not a platform for a hard sell (or followers will unfollow you). It’s a mechanism to maintain top-of-mind awareness and continue to position you as an expert and thought leader around hearing health.
Don’t just jump in. Give it careful thought and planning. If you decide to proceed, allot a considerable amount of time. Those who do social media well see a payoff in maintaining existing customers, as well as in increasing business. Often, businesses take on social media halfheartedly, find themselves committing time (but not enough and without proper planning), and then, when they receive very mediocre results, stop posting and declare that social media just didn’t work for them. It takes a while to build up a social media following and it can be slow. You should set aside a budget to boost some of your original content and that will help you build followers. As long as you’re consistent, have great content and are patient, your social media channels will grow and will pay off.
By growing followers, you may be able to reach more people on social media than you can through traditional media.