And do you even need them?
Here’s your mantra every time you go on social media for your private healthcare practice: I don’t need a lot of followers to fill my appointment books.
If you are a local therapist, PT, OT or SLP, the truth is that you can fill your appointments with a small, engaged audience.
Unless you have bigger goals of supporting many more people at once, such as offering virtual workshops or group courses, you don’t need thousands of followers on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Phew! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on how you can find the RIGHT followers for your practice.
How to get more followers if you are a local healthcare provider
Whether you are a local therapist, physician or speech therapist, your goal on social media is the following:
Show you’re open for business by existing on the channel where your audience is spending time
Show the people who find you there what it’s like to work with you
Nurture your audience so they know, like and trust you
Those who actually may become your clients or patients may never even follow or engage with you. But they do see you here.
Basically, show up on social media consistently, but don’t go crazy trying to win the popularity contest.
On Instagram especially, you’ll want to be sure to use keywords and your location in your profile description.
Here’s an example from Therapy with Millennials of how to set up your Instagram profile to include keywords, your location and a call to action.
Once your page is set up properly, it’s a good idea to follow people your ideal audience would already be following, based on their age group and interests. You can then engage with their content and follow their followers.
If you post content consistently with sharable content and spend a little time each week engaging with your audience, that should be good enough for most local private practices.
It’s good to note that a lot of your followers and certainly most of the people engaging with your content, on Instagram especially, will be people in your industry. This is because people mostly look to you as a clinician for information but not be besties. And as for engagement, it’s likely you’re getting a higher rate than those with high following counts anyway.
Consider this graph from Databox
Here’s an example that illustrates your goal as a small private practice on social media
Let’s compare two hypothetical adolescent therapists.
Pretend my kid is struggling during the pandemic (hard to imagine, I know). I’ve received two referrals of therapists from my pediatrician. I check them both out, and one has an outdated website and posts sporadic quotes and flyers to social media. The other has a modern website and respectable amount of content on social media so that I can get a sense of what she is like. My teen can get a sense of what it might be like to meet with her. No doubt, we’re going to go with the latter.
Now, hold up, you’re saying. Plenty of outstanding service providers have a waiting list simply by word of mouth. This is true. And if that’s working for you, then go on with your bad self.
But you might be a private practice just starting out, and you have to build up your reputation. Or you added another provider, and now you have to fill his calendar. Or maybe you were busy before the pandemic, and things have slowed down since then. Social media can help you build your reputation.
How to get more followers if you have bigger goals for your private practice
But what if you want to start offering workshops or a group course in addition to your private practice?
Then, my friend, you’ve got to swallow your pride and be like the “Wallies.”
The Wallies are the cool kids from my high school who sat on one wall of Locker Street–a no-go zone for most other students.
These days, the Wallies are the ones in your field who fill your feed because they got started earlier there and have spent more time creating content and nurturing their audience.
It doesn’t mean they know the most or do the best job.
If you’re competing with the Wallies, you’ll need to work harder to get more followers. Your approach on each social media channel will differ.
Getting more followers on Facebook
For Facebook, the answer is easy: it’s pay to play. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s very hard to get followers on Facebook for a business page these days. The algorithm stars are all aligned against you when you post to a business page, no matter how good the content. Consider running engagement ads if you want more followers.
You can also run a Facebook group to support your target audience, and these tend to have much better engagement. Here’s a link to join mine.
On LinkedIn, you’ll want to post content to your practice page, but like Facebook, it’s not likely to perform well. You and your team can and should directly ask your connections to follow your page, though.
Simply go to the “Admin tools” on your business page and invite connections
Once you’ve done that, you’re still better off posting on your personal LinkedIn feed and establish yourself as an expert. Plain text posts typically perform the best there, so post consistently about your work, as well as industry-related trends and news.
Engage with other people in your industry, as well as your target audience, and you will gain followers that way too. LinkedIn is a very friendly place, so definitely dust off your old LinkedIn profile and give it a try. Connect with me there and let me know if you have any questions.
Instagram is a whole other beast, but if your audience is there, you’ll have to spend time on building your Instagram following and engagement. The good news is that Instagram is the best tool for moving your audience along the sales customer journey, from brand awareness >> to someone who engages with you >> to capturing their email >> to becoming a client.
The bad news is that it takes a lot of time.
Here are some ways to get more followers on Instagram
Create consistent content. This goes without saying, no matter what channel you are on. There’s not one right amount of times you should post each week, but you do need to stay consistent to maintain momentum. Batching your content and scheduling it ahead of time can help you do that.
Create sharable content. Pay attention to the content that performs best in your insights. Create more of that and include a call to action in your posts to ask people to share it. The more they share your posts to their stories, the more people will see your content.
Tag people in your posts. When you create content that interests others you know, tag them in the image or in the comments. Be careful not to spam them, though. Spam is annoying.
Follow your ideal audience. Find the handles your audience is following, and follow their followers. If you have a great profile and good content, they’re likely to follow you back.
Nurture your audience with engagement. It goes without saying that you should respond to people who engage with your content. But you should also comment and engage with people your audience follows. They, they will see you in their comments.
Collaborate with others in your field. Collaboration attracts attention to your practice and helps your audience see the other person’s content as well. You can do Instagram takeovers, go live together or participate in fun Reels or Reels challenges (See an example of one I just did here) with others in your field.
If you have your end goal in mind–whether that’s creating content for your local practice or starting to serve more people beyond your region–sharing consistent content that resonates and working a little each week will get you there.
Need help creating consistent content? Get my Canva mini course for template ideas and 50 content ideas.