Over the last six years, we have worked with more than a hundred treatment centers and almost every one of them was interested using social media to grow their brand and their facility.
It seems like a no brainer. Everyone is using Facebook. Every legitimate treatment facility needs to be allocating budget towards their social media marketing. Right?
In this article, I am going to go over some very hard lessons I have learned about social media and how it pertains to the treatment industry. I will go over the mistakes we have made, the successes we have had and the best tactics and strategies to use when implementing social media into your marketing.
Let’s get started.
Social Media Will Not Generate Admits
When I make this statement, there are usually two types of reactions.
First, there are the marketers who love social media. They love getting likes and shares and followers. Many times, these marketers have had success in other areas outside of the treatment industry. Most social media agencies sell things that require attention and don’t have direct experience with generating leads that convert into conversions.
Second, there are people who readily accept the fact that social media is not the best tool for generating admissions. These are people who understand the nuances behind treatment. These are people who understand that finding treatment is an emotional process.
This has been a controversial topic for us. We have worked with social media marketing agencies who don’t specialize in treatment and we have come to discover that they love to talk about how much “attention” social media gets.
There is no doubt that Facebook and Instagram have huge audiences and that we can leverage these audiences to spread your message, your brand and your content.
But when it comes to direct admissions, social media is not going to be your best bet.
Social media is a great way to promote blog posts, grow a podcast about addiction recovery or even post pictures that spread a good message about sobriety and recovery. But hardly anyone is going to look at those pictures and decide right then and there that they need to go to rehab.
There is no context. Don’t expect that social media will get your phone to ring.
What that being said, we have found very practical benefits from social media outside of phone calls and direct admissions.
Social Media is a Great Branding Tool
It is important not to be close minded when it comes to social media.
Just because social media has not proven to be an effective admit generator does not mean it doesn’t have any intrinsic value. It is simply a matter of knowing where to apply social media and how to cultivate your social media as a support beam for your brand.
For instance, social media works great when…
- creating groups and events for alumni
- providing extra information on your facility for people who may have already looked at your website and need some more convincing
- allowing potential patients to get to know your staff
- giving video testimonials
- spreading podcasts, blogs, images or other branded content
The trouble people get into is that they see how cheap the attention on social media is and they get addicted to the dopamine hits that likes and reach provide. Usually, it sounds like this.
Oh wow! The article about sober celebrities reached 16,000 people and got 151 likes. That’s great. Let’s do it again!
So what? What’s the point? What did that equate to? What was the return on that article? Did your content provide any real value to anyone looking for treatment? Or was it simply a way for you to convince yourself that the work you are doing is worth the time and effort?
Would you rather your marketing dollars turn into admissions or Facebook likes?
These are serious questions.
You Don’t Own Your Facebook Page
Facebook owns your Facebook audience and Facebook doesn’t owe you anything.
I cant tell you how many times I have seen companies of all industries dump huge amounts of money and effort to grow their Facebook audience just to have Facebook make changes on the way the newsfeed displays content.
These changes in algorithms have been devastating for some businesses. If Facebook wants to change something about their site, they don’t need your permission and they don’t care how much money you have spent building your Facebook audience.
It’s their website, they can do what they want.
For this reason, you need to make sure you are always building your brand on a domain and a platform that you can control. Build your website. If you are passionate about creating a community around your brand then I highly suggest building an email list and communicating to your alumni through a weekly newsletter.
Facebook can never take away your email list, it’s yours. But Facebook can take away your reach, in fact they already have. It’s only getting worse.
Should You Invest in Social Media Marketing?
There is no reason not to spend some time on your social media. At the end of the day, there is huge reach and opportunity on social media. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Pinterest all have value.
But, you need to understand exactly what your expectations are.
Facebook is an avenue in which you can have an open dialogue and conversation with people who have graduated your treatment facility, with people who may be friends of people who are looking for help and for people who are generally interested in your blogs and images and content
If you do it right, your social media can be extremely helpful in your marketing efforts, but it should never be the focus.
Build a brand. Build your search rankings. Build your name and do good work.