Facebook is making changes to their algorithm — the software rules that decide what you see when you go to Facebook. Facebook, like similar services, makes changes to their algorithm all the time. It’s essential to providing a good user experience for their customers. The new Facebook changes in this case will have an effect on everyone using Facebook for business — and that could include your practice.
You probably haven’t missed news reports and thoughtful essays on the dangers of social media. Facebook, we’re told, diminishes human interactions, exacerbates political divisions, and even causes depression. Facebook is responding by changing the way they decide what you see in your stream.
You will be seeing more from your friends and family, more conversations, less video, and less content from businesses. Facebook wants less passive consumption of content and more interaction.
The object is to increase human connections. Conversations in comments are seen as examples of human interaction, so you’ll be more likely to see posts that have comments. Videos may get lots of Likes, but they are less likely to get comments, so they’ll be shared less often.
Posts from businesses will be less likely to show up when you visit Facebook. If they’re shared by your friends and family, they’ll be more likely to show up in your feed. Longer comments increase the chances. Groups will be more likely to show up.
Does that mean your clinic page will suffer?
Facebook has not been shy about their general position on business or professional Pages: they want you to pay. That’s not new. Pages that don’t boost posts or run ads have seen over the past several years that their content is rarely shown, even to people who Like their pages.
However, clinic pages and pages for individual healthcare providers often have a lot of human interaction going on. Pictures of staff elicit comments like, “We love Sherry! She’s the best!” and curated content brings questions and discussions. Putting a little more effort into your Facebook page could pay off.
What should you do?
First, remember that people go directly to your practice’s Facebook page and find you at Facebook through search. We know that people visit your professional page to learn more about you — and we often see patients coming to healthcare facilities’ websites for customer care needs. Your page needs to show your practice at its best just for that reason. Frequent, useful posts provide value for visitors. Facebook posts linking to your website increase visits to your site.
Facebook ads allow you to reach people with targeted messages, too — and they’re very affordable.
So don’t leap to the conclusion that you should give up on Facebook.
Facebook and other social media platforms are worthwhile landing pages even if organic outreach is lower than it used to be.
At the same time, remember that sharing and conversations are more likely to be seen. Asking open-ended questions and participating in conversations will make your page less passive in Facebook’s view, and therefore more likely to show up in feeds.
Consider beginning a community group. Groups in general should do better under the new algorithm. There are plenty of possibilities for groups:
- A walking group that shares favorite routes and hikes.
- A group that asks and answers questions about managing health concerns.
- A place to swap healthy recipes.
- A support group for new parents.
- A group where patients can track their progress toward self-care goals.
Consider possible HIPAA risks before you decide how to set up your group, and set up policies and workflows ahead of time. This will reduce problems that could otherwise arise.
What not to do
Don’t rely on a personal page at Facebook. For one thing, it is against Facebook policy to use a personal profile as a business Page. If they notice, they could convert it to a Page without your consent. They might never notice, of course. But a personal profile doesn’t let you have Insights (analytics) or create ads. It could put you in an uncomfortable position, too, if you show up as a friend on patients’ pages. You’re better off with a professional page.
Don’t rely on your Facebook page to take the place of a website. Your chances of showing up well on search are limited, your design is determined by Facebook, and your Facebook page doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to Facebook. A change in their rules could knock out all the work you’ve put into it.
If keeping up with social media is simply unrealistic for you, don’t let your page languish. An abandoned page makes a bad impression on your visitors. If you jump in just for promotional messages, you’ll turn off your social visitors. Instead, hire a company like Haden Interactive to keep your page healthy and effective.