social media trends physical therapists are using

Do you see other businesses using Facebook and social media, only to wonder how can I use it for my practice? There are at least a thousand articles out now on 2018 social media trends. Many are very accurate predictions and written by industry-leading social media advertising experts such as Social Media Examiner. That said, for a practice owner it can be difficult to translate philosophical marketing jargon such as AI, Automation, and Augmented Reality into actionable steps to help your PT practice grow.

So to narrow it down, here are 5 emerging social media advertising trends PT Owners can use to save time and engage with patients and, most importantly, how to use them:

1) Facebook Messages Response Assistant

It’s 2018 and it’s time to embrace Facebook messages as part of your practice’s reception plan! More and more consumers are turning to Facebook to contact businesses with questions or information. The development of the messenger app makes the user’s experience easier than dialing a number as well as faster than an email. All practices should be embracing the message feature to save phone calls and meet the public’s ever-decreasing expectation for time of response. Facebook even tells people when your page is “very responsive” to messages which is sure to raise a patients comfort level with your practice!

I know, answering social media chats sounds like a lot of time right? Thankfully, there are some great settings to ensure you can implement Facebook Messenger into your social media advertising while also saving your staff time.

For more tips on attracting new patients with Social Media, Emails, SEO, Websites, & more check out our free PT Training Downloads!

Set up a Facebook response assistant

This handy tool replies to every new message for you immediately. It’s easy, free, and sets your practice in a positive light from the start of the conversation.

We’ve prepared a step-by-step setup for you. First though, let’s look at a good example of an auto-response:


Notice the opening? Personalization is critical in modern marketing. Facebook allows you to easily auto-fill information about the user such as First Name or Full Name. Use this to add a personal touch to automated messages. This response also affirms receipt of the message and ensures a team member will personally respond within a specific time frame – setting proper expectations. In addition, it answers a common question about business hours in a way that keeps the conversation about the patient. Lastly, it provides an alternate contact method.

Be personal, write like a human, and don’t be afraid of emoji’s (but don’t overdo them either). Here’s how to set up your Response Assistant

Step-by-step: Response assistant setup

  • Open your Practice’s Facebook page.
  • In the top right, click “Settings.”
  • In the Menu on the left, click “Messaging” and scroll down to “Response assistant.”
  • Turn on Instant replies and type your custom message.

In your inbox tab, you can also save responses such as business hours, insurance questions, and other commonly addressed issues so you or your staff do not need to type repetitive answers throughout the week. Be sure to personalize these as well!

2) Facebook & Instagram Stories

By now you’ve probably heard someone mention stories on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. There’s also a good chance if you have kids they know more about it than you do. Stories are a social media advertising trend being addressed by almost every article on the topic, so it is worth finding out how it relates to your practice. First, a definition:

Facebook Stories: short user-generated photo and video collections that can be viewed up to two times and disappear after 24 hours. (Source: Buffer)

For practice owners, there are a few ways this feature can engage your audience in a practical, helpful way building loyalty and engagement. The first advantage: advertisers haven’t saturated stories yet. When you post a story, instead of reaching only about 2% of your followers you’ll be placed at the top of their feed, likely alongside just a handful of their friends. Now is the time to draw attention though as many brands are increasing their use. Secondly, it is an opportunity for personalization. Patients will connect a face to your practice instead of just a logo. Be a leader – get noticed!

Ways to use stories to promote your practice:


Physical Tip of the Day or Week

Have a staff member briefly demonstrate a stretch or exercise and its benefit.

  • Use the first 6 seconds to introduce it: “Dealing with pain from sciatica? Here’s a simple stretch you can do at home to help!”
  • Upload a second video or 2-3 images showing the stretch.
  • Conclude with a final 6-second video: “Hope that helps! Feel free to come see us for a pain consultation” and include a text overlay with your website.

Behind the Scenes

Getting ready for an informative seminar? Share a stretch or activity you’ll be discussing to promote it! Include a video or multiple images, one of which has the seminar time & date.

Meet the Staff

Dressing up for a holiday? Hire a new staff member? Give your patients a personal look into your practice in a story.

Patient Success

Say a public thanks to a patient at completion if their treatment. If you can, also include what they were able to achieve (no more back pain, etc).

Get More Social Media Tips in Our Free Online PT Marketing Guide!

3) Longer Twitter Limits

Twitter announced recently that, after testing with select users, all accounts can now post up to 280 characters instead of 140. They also announced that images no longer count towards your character limit, so be sure to include visuals throughout your posts. Some people won’t like the longer text but most experts agree Twitter could see a significant bump in usage in 2018.

The best way to take advantage of the longer text is just to make it sound more human. Use fewer abbreviations and write a sentence how you would speak it. You can also more easily include hashtags. Just remember that data shows 1-2 hashtags get more engagement than 3 or more so choose wisely.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Increasing the character count on Twitter means you can now share twice the information. It doesn’t mean you should, but you can. Just remember to keep it helpful, keep it about the reader, not yourself, and even if the post is longer keep it to the point. A longer post every now and then scattered within the normal, shorter posts will stand out. A string of longer posts will get lost altogether.

If you aren’t already on Twitter, start today! It can be a great tool to connect with local businesses and potential patients. With Twitter leads, you can even search for local residents experiencing pain you could help with!

4) Live Streaming

Live streaming is another increasingly popular feature that allows remote access to events and is another platform Facebook’s reach algorithms favor without being a saturated channel (yet). This can be done natively within the Facebook page manager app. Increase your exposure by live streaming free seminars, helpful tips & exercises, and other video-worthy events.

Live videos save to be watched later, but the best time to go live is when your fans are online. The secret here is that information is not a secret!

How to find out when your fans are online:

  • Go to your Facebook page and click the “INSIGHTS” tab.
  • Now on the left side click “POSTS”
  • The first section will show a daily and an hourly graph of when your fans are online! Select peak times and days and plan to post live content then.

5) Video

If this article was written a year ago, video would’ve been on the list. And in 2018, it is even more undeniable that video will reign in social media marketing. Video is not just a fad, it is a strong uptrend. It separates those willing to create compelling content from those who don’t take their marketing seriously.

This list includes multiple trends that use video. However, it is so vital to engagement that we gave it a full section. Just take a look at the industry behavior: This past year Linkedin added a native video feature, Facebook added videos as one of only 5 menu options in their app, and Neilson reports that even though video is getting more crowded as a content method, stats continue to prove it is more effective than images and text.

So what kind of videos should you make?

We’ve already talked about stretching and exercise tips which is always a useful tool for your followers. Also, think about what’s on your blog or what you’re planning to publish. Chances are you could dual purpose some of that content (already written!) into a short, engaging video. It also never hurts to keep it fun! We’re pretty proud of our client Achieve Physical Therapy for this PT practice video:

  • Bonus Tip: As more and more people are using their phone, don’t be afraid to shoot your videos vertically instead of horizontally. This will create a more natural mobile experience and take up more of the user’s screen as the scroll.

Social media advertising is a constantly changing field. It requires constant testing to know what works best for your practice. If you don’t have a social media plan, get started with these free tools. Test new features as they are released. Facebook and other social platforms favor their new projects which will help PT marketing budget.

To keep up with the latest in PT marketing and advertising, follow our blog or check out these Free Training Tools!

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