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The majority of medical practices have realized the necessity of having a social media presence for improved communication and business growth. According to Pew Internet Research, 41% of patients look for medical content on social media sites and 94% of those patients turn to Facebook. However, Facebook is changing and in order to reach their 1.23 billion monthly users, businesses will have to start paying.

Free organic reach on Facebook is declining. Over the past few months, Facebook has adjusted the amount of fans that see a businesses post in their News Feed. Facebook disclosed in 2012 that this number was 16%. Yet a study by Ogilvy & Mather found that post visibility dropped from 12% in October of 2013 to 6% in February of 2014. Facebook sources are unofficially advising community managers to prepare for this number to drop to 1 or 2 percent. This means that while businesses can still interact with their fans, the amount of fans seeing their posts will continue to decline.

The changes Facebook has made and will continue to make require businesses to rethink how they will use it for promotional and educational purposes. Gone are the days when a business can post trivial content on their page and expect success. In order to be successful going forward, businesses must consider the content people want to see and post accordingly.  They will also have to decide what type of posts they are willing to pay for. This is because paid posts or ads will have the greatest visibility and reach.

Facebook is transforming into a marketing investment for businesses across the globe. Those that are unwilling to commit marketing dollars into advertising on Facebook will find their engagement rates continuing to decline. However, for those willing to look at Facebook as a marketing investment, the potential for great returns is very real.

The best advice is to develop a marketing strategy that encompasses both paid and unpaid posts. Like all marketing strategies, it should remain fluid, taking into consideration the changing needs of the target demographic and adjusting accordingly. Facebook marketing is still a very effective way to reach existing and new patients. The new changes simply require a fresh perspective on medical marketing in order to get the greatest reach.