Social Media vs. Social Marketing vs. Social Advertising

You don’t have to be a digital marketing guru to have heard of (and likely used) the terms social media, social marketing, and social advertising.
Some use the terms interchangeably as they’re relatively vague without true, common-knowledge definitions. But each is distinctively different, and knowing these differences can make it possible to better discuss, research and strategize an effective digiral marketing effort for your physical therapy practice.
Here’s my best definition of each of these terms:

  • Social Media. Social media is about networking, sharing content, and making friends on various digital platforms.
  • Social Marketing. Social marketing is based on strategy. Different from social media, social marketing involves a specific plan that benefits a business.
  • Social Advertising. Social advertising is about targeting new customers with ads. There are many mutual strategies that involve both social marketing and social advertising, but the latter involves paid advertising – an obvious difference.

To shine some more light on how your clinic can further differentiate these terms, here is how we utilize them for our company:
At BuildPT, we use social media for trust and brand awareness among multiple social channels. We use strategic social marketing to provide vertical-based, engaging content to grow our audience. Last, we get leads and new costumers from ads utilizing social advertising.
Using our own efforts as an example, you can see that there are benefits of not just using one of these methods. Rather, balancing all three is an optimal marketing strategy for our (and any) business.

Social Advertising = New Patients

Remember when Facebook was free?
For most users, of course, it still is. You can still thrash on politicians and share pictures of your cat using your personal account, and your followers will see it without any additional cost.

Facebook Infographic

Facebook Infographic Click Here

Yet, this isn’t necessarily the case for business accounts. Unless you are the king of viral content, if you want more than a small pool of your active followers to see your posts from your clinic, you have pay to play.
Facebook isn’t the only social networking platform that uses advertising, but it is a great one for physical therapy clinics. Plus, you can also promote ads on Instagram (another great platform for PTs) directly from Facebook’s Ad Manager feature.
There are other separate networks that are paid advertising platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, but these sites can be a little more difficult when it comes to capturing the right audience for a PT clinic. You can be absolutely certain that your potential patients are using either Facebook or Instagram, and many of them need PT.
The targeting features (demographic, interests, education, job title, etc.) combined with the right ad allow you to implement a strategic, laser-guided marketing plan.

PT Social Quick Tips

Here are some quick tips if you’re considering a social advertising strategy for your PT clinic:

  • Start with your ad. For most cases, an ad works the same as a post. A more engaging ad will most likely get a better response. Using a call to action is certainly a must, assuming you want your impressions to turn into real patients.
  • Target wisely. This part can take a marketer’s mind, and it’s the place where most businesses fail. Think about who your ideal patient is and try to target that person. (Where do they live? Are they young/old? Are they active?)
  • Don’t be cheap. If you only have a few bucks to spend, then this isn’t for you. How much would you spend for one more patient? Think of questions like this, and you can determine an ROI for your social advertising efforts.
  • Balance your social. As I mentioned earlier, balance out your content with organic posts. This way you don’t come across overly salesy. Most people are using social media as entertainment, not looking to buy PT. Educating them on the value of the physical therapy first builds trust around your brand.

Keep in mind that an efficient and effective social advertising, social marketing, and social media campaign isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, creativity, and it greatly helps if you think like a marketer.

If you have any questions about social media marketing, you can contact me directly at jesse at buildpt.com. We love helping PTs – it’s what we do.