There are so many different Social Media tools that there are too many too cover really. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, Four Square and of course Facebook. I have chosen to focus on Facebook but you can explore many of the others. I recommend that you start with Facebook and focus on that until you get it to work. Having too many social media commitments is just taking up valuable time. Use it to support your website and marketing efforts. Personally I don’t recommend using Facebook for your massage business because there are just better ways to build your practice that does not require so much time and risk of HIPAA violations like creating a website for your massage business.
The one big problem that is arising with social media that no one is talking about is the added risk of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is the law that protects against unauthorized disclosure of identifying health information and any violations can result in fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment, besides being an ethical breach.
The AMTA-WA Attorney, John Peick, recently recommended that massage therapists either remove their social media profiles all together or to at least limit the comments or posts from people. Comments and post interaction are what makes Facebook work, so not allowing comments won’t help you get more clients. Yes patients are posting under their own free will but when you acknowledge that they are your patient/client, it may be a breach of privacy. You can not even talk about a hypothetical client with certain conditions that will identify the client as that is also a HIPAA violation. Even if you change the persons name or don’t use a name, the persons condition may be able to be identified by someone close to them. See this news story on one doctor cited for doing just that.
Though probably inadvertent, physician’s post led to identification of patient
While this is an extreme case, it is important to be aware of these issues!
It is important that you have proper training and knowledge of HIPAA before posting and if you have someone at your office posting for you, they need to be trained in HIPAA.
The goal in using social media is to get people to book appointments and to keep them coming back. You do that by posting regularly to build trust and interest. You can also post a sentence or two from a page on your website and put a link to your website. When you post an update on any of these services be sure to ask them to do something – “like” a post, make an appointment. Social media is all about engagement. It sometimes seems like it is more hit or miss. People don’t always check their newsfeeds or even have it so that you show up regularly in their newsfeed.
You may be saying “I don’t have to be HIPAA compliant – I don’t bill insurance electronically.” We really have to move beyond that. There are stricter state laws around privacy and people are more concerned about their privacy than ever today with so much identity theft.
That means if you are using Facebook you are at risk of violating clients/patients privacy. If you are using Facebook messaging to communicate with client concerning their health issues, technically a Business Associates Agreement should be signed with Facebook but they won’t do that. See this post in their forums: Is it possible to have a BAA (HIPAA compliance) with facebook?
Facebook also tracks who likes pages and when clients like your page, the data is being tracked and stored. I just found an interesting article on that topic – Does your Facebook Like Button Violate HIPAA?
If you are going to use Facebook here are some things to know.
Facebook constantly changes and adds new features and options so I won’t really go into it in depth. It could be a whole other book! You will need to weed through the Facebook Help Section if you have questions. The best thing is to find someone who uses Facebook successfully and “Like” their page and see how it is done.
When you set up a Facebook fan page use your main keywords as the user name – “massage your city” so that it will look like www.facebook.com/massageyourcity. That is another part of search engine optimization. This is another example of how important keywords are.
Stick with posting pages to your website in an effort to build traffic to your website. That means writing interesting articles on your website and creating images that will show on Facebook which will get your more likes, shares, comments. Having a Facebook Fan Page can help with getting your website found because fan pages are now showing up on search engine results. A Facebook fan page is all about building community and interaction. It is also important to have a ‘professional’ Facebook personal profile. Do not have pictures of yourself at the nude beach or downing shots at spring break. I am serious about this because unfortunately there are massage therapists who do have very questionable photos on their profiles. If you think your profile is private – think again. It is only as secure as your ALL of your friends security settings.
What is on Facebook, stays on there. Learn how to use the privacy setting to stop people from viewing your personal profile and keep your personal profile very separate from your business fan page. Even if you hide your personal profile, I guarantee that someone will be able to find it! Some massage therapists have successfully used a profile page to connect with their clients but they keep it professional. They can also connect on a personal level if the person posts – “Hey I just had a great massage from so and so”. In such a case you can “like” the post or say thank you or you can interact more with that client. (This is where caution is advised because of HIPAA. Even though the client is offering the information, you still need to be cautious with your reply. Don’t mention whatever issue they had that you worked on or anything they said or did in the session!) Just remember to keep things professional. You never really know how your personal life will affect your business. Better yet – reply off Facebook to their comments.
There are stories of people losing or not getting jobs because of what they have posted on their Facebook profile. You can put the Facebook feed on your pages so they can ‘Like’ your page or also use the ‘comments’ feature on your website so that when people make a comment on your website it posts to Facebook. You can also add the ‘like’ button to every page of your website so visitors can ‘like’ your page and your articles. It will then post on Facebook. You can find directions for creating badges or ‘like’ buttons on Facebook.
The biggest thing to watch out for is when putting Facebook “like” buttons or follow buttons on your website is to be sure to know the difference between the two. A follow button is different than a like button. Make sure you put a button that people can “like” your page right from your website. Make sure if a link goes directly to your Facebook page from your website that you have it open in a new window so you don’t lose the reader to Facebook.
Facebook is about creating community and relationships and works well for a massage business, especially when it comes to rebooking. You can stay in front of clients by sending out daily health tips or relaxation tips or the latest research on some area of massage. It’s a great way to connect with people and to get referrals.
Be aware that even though you may have many fans on Facebook, you never really know how many people are actually reading your posts. It is really hit or miss marketing. The best thing to do is to get people to subscribe to your ‘RSS feed’ on your Facebook fan page. Currently, fans can follow your ‘RSS feed’ by clicking on the ‘Get updates via RSS feed” on the bottom of the left hand side of the page.
To build more interaction on your Facebook page, you will have to make sure it is set up correctly. Start with filling out the timeline with all of your events related to your massage career. You can also list past specials so people can see what types of things to look for. Create a cover image that shows someone getting a massage. Use the top tabs for a sign up page to your newsletter; online scheduling (some online scheduling software have Facebook Apps for that). Create an about me tab, and other tabs that have interesting subjects that will keep people coming back to your page. You can use your Facebook page to create special offers and run contests. You can also give away products, massages or gift certificates.
You will have to experiment with how much to post and what to post to get more clients.
Everything with Facebook is a matter of testing, seeing the results and changing one thing at a time to see what works.
The goal of posting is to get people to “like” a post or to comment on a post. Sometimes just saying – ‘share this’ or ‘like this’ can help!
Here are some things to post:
- Create pictures to post with sayings on them about massage and have your website url in the picture. You can use www.picmonkey.com to create images. The various image sizes are important.
- Have a call to action in your post. Send people to your website to read an article or sign up for your newsletter.
- Have a call to action to make an appointment!
- Ask fill in the blank questions like ‘the best thing about Wednesday is_ ‘. You have to keep it more general because of HIPAA. You can’t ask things like how was your massage or does your back hurt today or things like that.
- Post some funny videos or pictures about massage. My favorites are “I Love Lucy“ doing a massage and the massage your possum videos. (Search Youtube for those!) It is just to get likes really!
Also be careful when posting on other fan pages related to massage business and other groups on Facebook whether it is for massage or some other hobby or interest as these pages are now being found in the search results. I recently have had a few massage therapists ask me to delete some posts on my page because their clients were finding them and it was making them look bad or causing some challenge. The content wasn’t even bad or anything. It was just the massage therapist asking questions about building a business.
You can also connect many online appointment making systems to Facebook through an app and track whether or not they book through Facebook or your Website. Hmmm…. could that add more security risks?
Facebook boosted posts or Facebook ads are another way to try to get more massage clients. Here is the single most important thing you need to know about Facebook advertising:
The key is to create a post with an image/video that is very engaging that more people will like, share, comment on. The more people that like, share, comment – the LESS you will pay per click.
That is basically the way Facebook works in general too – the more engagement you get – the more they will show it to your fans and the word gets spread farther.
Facebook advertising is quite complex although they try to make it easier with their Boost Post Options. You really should take a class in Facebook advertising to get the most out of it.
Start here with their help section: How do I create a Facebook Ad.
Courses in Facebook Advertising from Facebook.
Library Courses on Facebook through Lynda.com (Become a free member though your local library)