How to master Facebook for healthcare marketingIf you’ve been working in social media marketing for more than a few weeks, you already know that using Facebook for healthcare marketing can be a tricky task. The frequent algorithm changes has made it difficult for healthcare marketers to build engagement on the platform.

What makes Facebook marketing even more difficult is that success these days seems to rely so much on advertising spend. What was once a site for college students to connect about classes and clubs has exploded into a massive media platform that pulled in more than $16.6 billion in advertising revenue in Q4 2018. That’s right — $16.6 billion.

With that kind of cash flow in advertising, it’s no wonder that Facebook favors content backed by dollars. For those of us trying to use Facebook for healthcare marketing, this can be a hurdle with our limited budgets, and we often find our posts ignored and buried at the bottom of feeds.

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on Facebook ads each month, don’t give up just yet. Boosting engagement on your posts (comments, likes and shares) is a great way to make it to the top of your followers’ feeds, which can ultimately help drive more clicks and traffic back to your website.

Here are some ways you can revive your Facebook engagement without breaking the bank.

Shuffle up your deck of content

Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s also a tactic you can use to conquer the Facebook algorithm.

If you’ve been posting nothing but links back to your blog or website, try switching it up by posting a photo, video or a poll. Changing up your posting routine can help you in two ways:

  • Content like photos and polls are more likely to prompt clicks and comments (a.k.a. engagement).
  • Facebook favors content that keeps users on its site rather than pulling them off to an external blog or website. More time on the site = more interested advertisers.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the Facebook page for our friends at OhioHealth — there are blog posts, resources, live video and photos all in the mix.

OhioHealth Facebook video post

OhioHealth posts a variety of content on its Facebook page, including many videos. Alt text: OhioHealth Facebook video post

Add to your Facebook Stories

Whether you’re on desktop or mobile, Facebook’s current layout places Stories at the top of the feed.

What are Stories? They’re similar to the news feed, but entirely visual. Users post photos and videos, sometimes with text overlays or special filters.

Try experimenting with Stories by adding candid photos or live video. You may have a better chance of catching users’ attention if you’re featured at the top of the screen.

>>Read more: How to choose the right social media tool for your healthcare team

Use video often

Remember what we said about Facebook wanting to keep users on its site? Video does exactly that.

Video is an excellent way to boost engagement and get into Facebook’s good graces (i.e. a more prominent place in users’ feeds). This is especially true of live video — users will spend three times longer watching live video on Facebook compared to pre-recoded video.

Live video doesn’t have to be complicated. Q&As are a great way to use live video, but if you don’t have the resources for that, try to think of opportunities to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your organization. It can be a quick tour of a new area in your hospital, a glimpse at the neighborhood around your campus, or an inside view into a team-building activity. Just remember to keep patient privacy in mind.

If you’re not ready to jump into live video, try repurposing video you already have in your content library. If you do this, remember to:

  • Upload the video directly (natively) to Facebook, don’t link out. This keeps users engaged longer.
  • Keep videos short. HubSpot recommends 1 minute or less.
  • Add subtitles — most people watch Facebook videos without sound.

Add a question

Questions are an easy way to engage users on Facebook by encouraging them to comment on the post. You can post a standalone question as an update to your feed or Facebook Stories, or you can tack on a question to the end of a post that links out to another page.

Once you post the question, make sure you are responding to each comment, whether it’s through a reaction (“like”, “love” etc.), a reply or both. The more engagement Facebook sees on the post, the more likely it is to give it a prominent place on followers’ feeds.

Here are a couple of examples of questions we recently posted on the WriterGirl Facebook page:

WriterGirl Facebook question post

A recent question we posted on WriterGirl’s Facebook page – we had several comments in a matter of minutes!

>>Read more: Avoid these social media mistakes

Start a few groups

Facebook’s big algorithm change back in 2018 meant that it wants to favor content that provides “meaningful social interactions.” That means users should see more posts from family, friends and groups they’re a part of.

The bottom line is that Facebook wants to prioritize content that will help people connect with one another, and that’s exactly what groups can do. You can create groups for specific communities and tie those groups back to your page. Then, you can help engage users by facilitating discussions and posting relevant content. Some ideas for groups might be:

  • New moms or parents.
  • Members of a program you host, such as a fitness challenge or cancer survivorship group.
  • Caregivers.
  • Providers at your hospital.

You can also adjust the privacy settings on your group — you can keep it closed to certain members or open it to the public. The team at AdventHealth, for example, has created a group for its Feel Whole Challenge members.

Test some advertising

Once you’ve tried all of these cost-effective ways to boots engagement, it may be time to dabble in promoted posts and advertising. Sure, you may not have a huge budget, but it’s worth testing out a small promotional campaign to see if it can give your content a boost.

You can start small — think $50 or $100 — and see where it gets you. The average Facebook cost per click for the healthcare industry is $1.32, which is much lower than other industries, like finance, customer services or home improvement.

Try to target specific audiences with your content, so you have a better chance at building engagement. Make sure you also set goals for your campaign and determine what you’re trying to achieve before you post. Do you want to grow followers? Drive traffic to your website?

If you need some help, Sprout Social has a great guide for getting started in the Facebook advertising world.

Mastering Facebook for healthcare marketing — is it possible?

Keep in mind the social media world is constantly in flux, whether it’s algorithm updates, advertising changes, added features or new layouts. What we suggest here could change in the next few months, and we’ll be sure to update you as we learn more. We know social media marketing isn’t easy, and we’re here to help with social content if you need it.

Here at WriterGirl, we’re starting to implement a few of these tactics on our own Facebook page, and while we’re still adjusting and experimenting, early results are positive. We’re looking forward to sharing more data with you in the coming months.

Just remember to keep an open mind, experiment and try new things. Using a variety of techniques — free or otherwise — can help keep your social media content fresh and engaging.