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Social media marketing for a medical practice varies significantly from marketing within other industries. The biggest difference is HIPAA and protecting your patient’s privacy. This can make launching a social media strategy daunting. Once you get past this hurdle and are ready to take the plunge, you need to consider how to engage your fans. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

Social media engagement can be mean different things to different people. Essentially, it is proof that the time and effort you invest in your social media marketing strategy is paying off. This can be proven in a variety of ways including the amount of new patients your practice receives directly from the Internet. It can also be proven through positive comments made on your page as well as new fans your practice receives on social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter.

If you find you are not having much success with retweets and Facebook engagement, consider changing the time you are posting. According to Buddy Media, brands that posted outside of business hours had 20% higher engagement rates. In fact, Buddy Media reports that Facebook engagement rates have three peaks: early morning (7 a.m. EST), after work (5 p.m. EST) and late at night (11 p.m. EST).

You should also be humble and use the 80/20 rule when it comes to social media posting. With this rule, 80% of your posts should contain content your fans want to read that is not directly about you. Visitors will essentially tune you out if you are constantly talking about yourself or your practice. If you have a dental blog, your posts should be about common dental questions or concerns. The remaining 20% can be about you and how you can help them.

Don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from starting a social media strategy. Negative reviews happen very infrequently. In fact, 90% of posts are positive according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The point of social media is to be social. If someone posts something positive, you should thank them for it – plain and simple. If someone posts something negative, their comments should be taken seriously and a post back is warranted. In your response you should address how measures are being taken to improve (when applicable).

Social media is one of the most inexpensive ways to market your practice. It takes time and commitment to see results, but when executed properly, positive results will be rewarded. Try it and see for yourself!