Last week’s feature newsletter article, Facebook Fundamentals: A Guide to Social Media in Healthcare Marketing, generated a lot of thoughtful comments from our readers. And—since this is part of a continuing series about social media tools in healthcare marketing—here’s a brief follow-up about Facebook:
Facebook isn’t for everyone. Our readers include practicing physicians and healthcare marketing professionals across a range of disciplines and situations. Many private practices, as well as well-known institutions—such as Cleveland Clinic and MD Anderson Cancer Center—actively use Facebook. But, for many reasons, social tools such as Facebook don’t fit every provider or healthcare marketing situation.
Should you use a Facebook page as your website? This is definitely a temptation for a lot of small providers, after all it’s free. But the answer is a definite NO. If you have a Facebook page, it should be as an adjunct to your website, not as a substitute.
For one thing, many people in the general public don’t actively use Facebook, or they’re not on it at all. With Facebook, you don’t have your own URL, and that's an online handicap. (Although with 100 “Likes,” you can get a custom Facebook address; facebook.com/yourbiz.) These days it is possible customize a page to some degree, but you can’t control it or optimize a Facebook page like you can with your own website.
A Facebook BUSINESS PAGE and a PERSONAL PROFILE are different animals. These two critters have a similar appearance, and typically, they both have a casual and friendly presentation. Our company has a Facebook business page for example. Our content, however, is only about business. And if you intend to have a Facebook account for healthcare marketing, the business page variety is the first choice.
Another option (which involves more work) is to have two accounts—one business and one personal—using great care not to mix the stuff you would share with close friends and family with the business audience. We recognize that some thought leaders do use their personal profile for business. But many doctors understandably want to maintain a professional distance due to legal concerns and for personal privacy.
A third, more advanced, option is to define who sees what content. It is possible to direct certain posts to be seen only by certain groups. The Facebook “controls” are not foolproof, however, and other users could circulate posts intended for limited visibility.
Although Facebook can be a useful part in many healthcare marketing plans, it doesn't replace a website and it's not for everyone. What’s more, Facebook isn’t going to do an effective job without other marketing basics in place first.
There are more articles about social media tools and marketing techniques here on the Healthcare Success website.