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Social Success for Physical Therapists: Is Social Media Really Worth the Effort?

Social media to many stands as a beacon of opportunity for businesses, especially in healthcare. But the burning question remains: Is it worth investing time, money, and effort into organic social media? And more importantly, can you actually see a tangible return on such an investment?

For many physical therapists, social media is a time sink — hours spent creating and scheduling posts with little thought to the bottom line. We wouldn’t dream of being so cavalier with other business investments, so why do we gamble with our time on social media? The reality I’ve uncovered is stark: the average physical therapist spends about 28 minutes on a single post, and posts on average three posts a week, amounting to a staggering 10 days a year for content that often fizzles out without meaningful engagement (in fact probably doesn’t even fizzle!).

The Fine Line: Social Success vs. Social Suicide

Navigating social media can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. On one side lies ‘social success’—the realm of engaging, relatable content that resonates with your audience. It’s a place where each post invites interaction, creating a virtuous cycle: more engagement leads to increased visibility, which in turn fosters further engagement and even greater reach. It’s social media working for you, amplifying your message organically.

On the flip side, there’s a darker territory I often refer to as ‘social suicide.’ Here, the content is all too often self-absorbed and overly promotional, which just alienates the very people you’re trying to attract. This approach can trigger a vicious cycle: poor engagement leads to reduced visibility, and before you know it, your posts are relegated to the digital equivalent of a ghost town. This is not just ineffective—it can actively damage your clinic’s reputation and deter potential patients.

Understanding the difference between these two outcomes is crucial. One path leads to building a thriving online community that supports your social profile (and clinic’s) growth, while the other can undermine your brand and exhaust both you and your resources. In this blog post, I will dissect these paths and give you clear strategies to ensure your social media efforts lead to success, not suicide.

Self-Promotion vs. Adding Value

The crux of the issue often lies in the content’s nature. A self-centric approach — the “it’s all about me (or my clinic)” mindset — dominates the strategy, leading to a dead end of self-promotion. But what if you could shift to a self-less approach? Imagine creating content that genuinely helps and engages your audience.

The Rich Rewards of a Strategic Valeu-Adding Approach

When done well, the benefits of social media for physical therapists are many:

  • Communicating Authority: Establish your expertise through insightful content.
  • Reciprocity: Add value to your audience’s life, and they’ll want to give back.
  • Trust and Engagement: Engage sincerely, and trust follows.
  • Brand Awareness: Consistent, quality content raises your profile.
  • Audience Growth: Both organic and paid avenues to expand your reach.
  • Social Proofing: Positive reviews and interactions bolster reputation.
  • SEO Impact: Both direct and indirect boosts from active social engagement.
  • Sales: Indirectly (and sometimes directly) drive interest in your services.
  • Legitimacy: A well-maintained presence affirms your clinic’s credibility.

On the Road to ‘Social Success’

So, how do we pivot from potential social media stagnation to dynamic engagement that benefits your clinic? The journey to ‘social success’ is not about posting more; it’s about posting smartly. Stay tuned as I give you the foundation for a social media strategy that’s not just active, but also effective and efficient.

Practical Advice for Physical Therapists on Social Media

When it comes to social media, the key is not to be everywhere, but to be where it counts. Let’s dive into some of the questions I’m frequently asked:

Which Social Networks Should I Prioritise?

The golden rule here is simple: be where your patients are. If you’re a physical therapist, your audience might not be on the latest trendy platform, but they could be scrolling through Facebook or looking for health tips on Instagram. Focus your efforts on the networks where the majority of your patients and potential patients spend their time (a bit of Google research will easily tell you about the demographics of each network). This ensures that your content has the best chance to be seen and interacted with by the people who matter most to your clinic.

What Is Engagement and Why Does It Matter?

Engagement is a sign that your content is resonating with people. It includes likes, comments, shares, and saves – reactions from your direct followers. Reach, on the other hand, refers to the number of unique users who see your content, extending beyond your immediate circle to potential new patients.

There are two ways to measure engagement:
1. Engagement divided by follower numbers, which gives you a sense of how your content resonates with your existing audience.
2. Engagement divided by reach, the metric we recommend, because it tells you how engaging your content is to everyone who sees it, not just your followers.

What constitutes a good engagement rate? When calculated against reach, an engagement rate of above 1% is generally considered solid, with numbers between 0.5% to 0.99% being average. If you’re consistently hitting these benchmarks, you’re on the right track to ‘social success.’

However, for industries like healthcare and specifically for physical therapists, engagement rates might be lower due to the nature of the content, which can be more informational than entertaining (although we’re working on the magic combination of achieving both). For these fields, an engagement rate below 1% against reach can still be seen as successful, particularly if the engagements are meaningful and lead to deeper interactions or conversions.

The gold prize goes to people who can create content so compelling that even those who’ve never heard of your clinic feel compelled to engage with it.

It’s important to note that engagement rates should not be the only metric to measure social media success. The quality of engagement, such as comments and shares, can be more significant than the quantity when it comes to building relationships and converting followers into patients.

What Type of Media Should I Be Using on Social Media?

Variety is the spice of life, and the same goes for your social media content. A diverse mix of media caters to different preferences in your audience and can keep your feed fresh and engaging. However, considering the current digital trends, it’s wise to lean into the wave of short-form videos, which are outperforming other types of content in engagement rates.

The Power of Short-Form Video

Why the tilt towards short-form video? Simply put, it’s what people are craving right now. These quick, digestible videos are perfect for storytelling, demonstrating exercises, sharing quick health tips, or busting myths. They can pack a punch in just a few seconds, making them highly sharable and therefore favoured by social algorithms.

Yet, this doesn’t mean you should abandon other forms of content. Images, infographics, longer videos, and text posts still have their place. For example, a well-designed infographics can be a great way to simplify complex health information, and longer videos (like explainer videos) can provide more in-depth insight into a particular treatment or health condition. We incorporate all of these types of post within our monthly social media campaigns, but newer campaigns do prioritise short-form video.

So, what’s the ideal content balance? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, a good rule of thumb is to use a variety of content types with an emphasis on short-form videos. Monitor your engagement rates for different content types and adjust your strategy accordingly. Aim for a mix that keeps your audience informed, engaged, and connected to your clinic’s unique voice and expertise.

What Type of Content Should I Be Posting?

When planning your social media content, aim to build each post around one or more of the four pillars of engaging social media content, captured neatly in the mnemonic EIRE: Entertaining, Inspirational, Relatable, and Educational. These have been acknowledged by some of the most influential social media strategists as being universally the best pillars to base your content around. Striking a balance between these elements can elevate your social media presence from just another clinic account to a valued community resource.

EIRE: The Four Pillars of Engaging Content

  1. Entertaining: Content that entertains often gets the highest engagement. This could be a fun fact, a light-hearted take on physical therapy, or a challenge that encourages participation. Humour, when appropriate, can go a long way in humanising your brand and making it more approachable.
  2. Inspirational: Stories of recovery, patient testimonials, and motivational quotes can serve as a source of inspiration. They highlight the positive impact of your work and can motivate your audience to take action, whether it’s pursuing treatment or simply making healthier life choices.
  3. Relatable: Posts that reflect common experiences, challenges, or feelings can resonate deeply with your audience. Sharing day-to-day clinic moments or discussing common misconceptions in physical therapy can make your content more relatable and build a stronger connection with your followers.
  4. Educational: As a healthcare provider, you have a wealth of knowledge to share. Educational content can range from explaining medical conditions and treatments to offering wellness tips. This positions you as an authority in your field and a trusted source of information.

Achieving the Ultimate Goal

While it’s beneficial to have posts that strongly represent one pillar, the ultimate goal is to create content that encompasses all four. For example, an educational post about a common injury can include an inspirational recovery story (Inspirational), be presented in an engaging and entertaining format (Entertaining), relate to common patient concerns (Relatable), and offer valuable advice (Educational).

Creating content that aligns with these four pillars will not only enrich your social media presence but also encourage a higher level of engagement. By rotating through and combining these pillars, you can keep your content dynamic and ensure that your audience finds real value in every post.

Here’s a couple of examples of posts we’ve created in our campaigns to give you an idea what it can look like in practice.

How Often Should You Post?

The question of “How often should I post?” is frequent, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, the key lies in finding a rhythm that works for you and sticking to it. Whether it’s three times a week or once a day, choose a frequency that you can maintain over the long haul. It’s the regularity that counts. If your followers come to expect a helpful tip every Tuesday, an inspiring story every Thursday, and a community highlight every Saturday, they’re more likely to engage with your content and even look forward to it.

Staying on Topic and On Schedule

Just as important as consistency in your posting schedule is the consistency in the topics you choose. Ensure that the majority of your posts align with your clinic’s expertise and your audience’s interests. For example, if you focus on posts about the latest developments in physical therapy, wellness tips, and patient success stories, you’ll establish a clear identity in the minds of your followers and the algorithm. This clarity leads to your content being shown to the right audience—people genuinely interested in physical therapy and wellness. If you start posting loads of pictures of cute dogs, that will only serve to confuse the algorithms.

By maintaining consistency in both the theme of your posts and the regularity of your updates, you signal to the algorithm that you are a reliable source of quality content in your field. This strategy not only enhances your credibility with your audience but also maximises the reach and impact of your social media efforts.

How Do I Get More People To See My Posts?

So, how can you amplify the number of people who see your posts? The answer lies in proactive outreach. It’s not just about creating content; it’s also about being active and engaging within the social media community. When you interact with others’ content, you’re not only building relationships but also increasing the chances that others will take notice of your profile and return the favor.

Engage to Be Engaged With

Engaging on other pages and in groups relevant to your field is like networking at a conference. By commenting on these pages, or sharing insights in a health and wellness group, you’re putting yourself out there. This doesn’t mean spamming comments with self-promotion; it means offering genuine, thoughtful contributions that add value to the conversation.

The Ripple Effect of Engagement

Every like, comment, or share you make creates a ripple effect. People see your clinic’s name attached to something helpful or insightful; and everyone else who has already commented on that same post will be alerted to your new comment, which increases the chance that they will click through to your profile, and suddenly you’ve got a new follower—or better yet, a potential new patient. This proactive approach is about fostering a sense of community and positioning yourself as an active participant in the wider conversation around health and well-being.

Leveraging Groups for Greater Reach

Groups on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can be particularly powerful for reaching a broader audience. By being helpful and active in these groups, you can significantly boost your clinic’s visibility. Share your knowledge freely, answer questions, and provide support. When group members see you as a trusted resource, they’re more likely to check out your page and engage with your posts.

Remember, social media is a two-way street. The more effort you put into engaging with others, the more you’ll get out of it in terms of visibility and reach. This proactive outreach should be an integral part of your social media strategy, complementing your content creation efforts.

Bringing It All Together

As you finesse your social media strategy, remember this: the efficiency of your posting is crucial. Creating content should not consume your day which is why the ready-made social media content I provide under my Clinic Growth Hub can be so valuable. The goal is to get your posts out quickly and efficiently, so you can devote the bulk of your time to where the true growth happens: proactive outreach (and we cover this in much more detail in my Social Success course – link included below).

Keep in mind that organically, your posts are likely to reach only about 1% of your followers which is tiny number of people when you think how much time you invest in creating that content. While it’s essential to maintain a strong social page for credibility and to serve as a resource for those who seek you out, pouring hours into creating and scheduling posts isn’t the best return on investment due to these low engagement rates.

Instead, shift your focus to active engagement—this is your ticket to expanding your reach. By interacting with others, joining conversations, and being present in groups, you’re likely to appear in front of new eyes, the ones not already following you. It’s through these interactions that you can significantly increase your clinic’s visibility.

Investing Time Where It Counts

So, how should you allocate your social media time? Use the efficient posting strategies of our content to maintain a consistent presence with less effort. Then, invest your time in reaching out, commenting, sharing, and connecting. This proactive outreach is the powerhouse of your social media strategy, the engine that drives visibility and draws new patients into your world.

By following this approach, you are not only making the most of your time but also actively growing your clinic’s reach and influence on social media.

Next Steps

  • If you’re curious about the marketing solutions I offer, and in particular the pre-created social media content that is pre-loaded into our own social media scheduling tool, you can book a chat with me here
  • If you’d like to access my Social Success for Physical Therapists online course, completely free of charge (which is where all the images in the post above came from), you can find that here, just enter your email address and name and click “checkout”, the product is priced at £0 so you won’t be charged anything 🥰.

Blog Author

Tor Davies

Co-Kinetic Founder

I’m a physio-turned publisher with a passion for technology and a ‘verging on OCD-like’ obsession with efficiency and effectiveness! I spend way too much time coming up with new ways of using technology to help practitioners develop their businesses, a topic that I also speak on regularly at global conferences. I’m mad about dogs and love pubs too 🙂