How can GP Practices utilise Facebook?

Using social media is a great way to interact with your patients or potential patients, not only is it easily accessible it is also an easy form of communication if managed correctly.

With over 1.4 billion users, it is likely the majority of your patient list use it; making it a powerful tool to take advantage of.

Starting from where Liam left off looking at Twitter, we have decided to write another post about the benefits of using social media within your GP practice and how best to manage your profile. This time we will look at Facebook.

Setting up your GP Practice’s Facebook account

The best way to do this is to create a business page that can be linked to multiple staff member’s personal accounts so more than one person can access it.

If you’re chosen to set up the practice Facebook account you need to:

  • Log in to your personal  Facebook profile
  • Press the little arrow that is pointing down in the menu bar
  • Click ‘Create Page’ on the drop down menu
  • Select’ Local Business or Place’
  • Fill in all of fields and press ‘Get Started’
  • Next, fill in the 4 sections – About, add a profile picture, add the page to favourites for easy access and finally ‘Preferred Page Audience’ – keep this broad as your patients will be of all ages.
  • Your new page will then be created
  • Facebook offers a run through on what everything is so make sure you read the tutorial tabs
  • You can now access this page through your personal account by clicking on the little arrow in the menu bar and choosing to use Facebook as your practice’s page.

Adding colleagues as admins:

  • Be active on Facebook as your practice’s page
  •  Click Settings and then Page Roles
  • Add email addresses of other staff members who require access to the page and save

These staff members will now also be able to access the page and post as the practice.

What should you post?

Here are some tips and ideas of what you can post, remember to keep them regular, around 2-3 times a day:

  • Related updates about your practice - opening and closure times, evening surgery news, PPG Meetings and CQC scores.
  • You could share posts from other healthcare pages about health, diet, exercise and lifestyle choices, this is a way to keep your page varied and interesting. The government or NHS may have an event or incentives running that may also be of interest to your followers.
  • Exciting events in the practice, for example birthdays, anniversaries, charity events or retirements; this is a great way to add photos to your profile (with people’s consent).
  • Local news and events such as fairs, festivals and charity events as these are relatable and of interest to your patient list.

You want to keep your posts varied and interesting, use photos, links to relevant websites and share other people’s posts. Facebook is also an easy way for your patients to contact you check regularly to make sure you don’t miss any messages. Although, as explained further on, you don’t need to do this out-of-hours.

Promoting your profile

Facebook do offer paid advertising but for a GP practice this is probably a waste of money and not worth it. There are plenty of organic ways you can get people to ‘like’ your page:

  • Add posters around your practice to let your patients know that you have a Facebook page and the importance of liking it e.g. surgery news and updates
  • Promote the page from your personal accounts using statuses and sharing the Practice’s posts e.g. ‘Like our surgery Facebook page to keep update with opening times and other news’
  • Commenting on, liking and sharing other posts and profile’s posts is also a great way to reach a wider audience – although it is important to keep these relevant to your page’s purpose.

Managing your Facebook account

  • Have a complaints procedure: Similar to what was mentioned on the Twitter blog post, make sure you have a good complaints procedure in place offline to avoid complaints moving onto an open forum like Facebook. If a complaint does end up on your page it is best to ask for the customers details so you can get in contact with whoever has filed the complaint directly instead of playing the situation out on your page for all the public to see.
  • Be active only in practice hours: As chances are you don’t run an out of hours’ service keep posting to surgery hours and make sure details of your opening times are visible on your page. Social media users expect replies minutes after asking a question - if they think you are actively on the page 24/7, they will expect you to reply to queries 24/7.
  • Have more than one admin: This is important just in case someone calls in sick, is on holiday or hasn’t come in, you need to make sure that more than one person can access the page so you can carry on interacting with your followers.
  • Multitasking at its best: Hootsuite is a FREE tool that allows you to link up all of your social media profiles so you can manage and post from one platform.

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Hope that has given you a rundown of everything you need to know about starting and managing your GP practice’s Facebook page. If you’re a member of First Practice Management please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need further help with your social media.

If you don’t already have one, First Practice Management (FPM) Group also provides social media policy templates in the FPM Polices and Protocols Library.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ to keep up-to-date with everything going on at First Practice Management (FPM) Group.

To learn about more ways to get your Practice noticed, take a look at our ‘Promoting and Marketing Your Practice’ workshop.

© First Practice Management, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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