How addiction treatment centers should develop their social media voice now, to weather the storm, and prepare for brighter days ahead.
Today we find ourselves in a time of great uncertainty both personally and professionally. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown all aspects of our personal and professional lives into chaos. As medical professionals and business owners, we cannot stand still, stymied by the things we can’t do. The business steps you take today will drastically affect your facilities tomorrow.
Now is a good time to examine your social media presence and understand how you can use one of the most powerful marketing tools still available to bring leadership and support to your addiction treatment centers now and strengthen a marketing channel for the future as life returns to normal.
Addiction treatment centers see the potential advantages of social media and they clearly want to reap the potential benefits. However, that doesn’t always happen. Some treatment centers participate in social media but see few, if any, rewards. Other facilities excel at social media. The question becomes, how do you ensure that your addiction treatment center succeeds in this medium, and especially during difficult times like these?
Why Businesses Screw Up Social Media
In an attempt to cash in on what social media can offer, many companies try to create a big social media presence. Given the potential size of the audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google My Business, and other platforms, no company wants to miss out on the potential benefits. Businesses reach too broadly, in effect trying to publish a magazine that is intended to please absolutely everyone. Failure in this attempt is inevitable.
Unfortunately, just having a social media presence in and of itself doesn’t actually mean a great deal. A business can be on social media, yet see few real benefits from the experience. Many companies find the whole social media experience to be underwhelming and surprisingly unproductive. Why is that? There are several possible reasons.
The Investment Isn’t There
Anyone can set up a social media account. There’s nothing to it. But that’s where the easy part ends. A social media account only gets noticed when it’s obvious the owners are committed to constantly creating new, relevant, and interesting posts.
All too many companies see social media as if it is something to do only if there’s any time left over after other marketing activities. Some businesses see the need to specifically assign people to social media. That’s not always as good as it sounds. Are these people trained in professional social media? Or are they just comfortable with the format because they do it themselves in their personal lives? What is the cost and potential return from their labor or related ad costs?
They Get Heavy-Handed
If you treat social media as just another marketing channel, you’re bound to be disappointed. This can’t be said loud enough or long enough—social media isn’t just another marketing channel.
There are companies out there that think a social media presence consists of aggressively pushing sales pitches. With some products, such as fashion, this isn’t necessarily a mistake if the public has a strong interest in it (especially if it’s something extremely trendy). However, for most products and services, heavy-handed promotion is mostly insulting to the social media audience.
They’re Deaf To Their Audience
On social media, some companies treat customers like customers… but not in a good way. They tend to treat the social media experience as a one-way street… a means of getting out marketing messages and little else. These companies don’t actively engage customers in conversations and they make little effort to learn from them. When someone isn’t responsive to you on social media, you aren’t likely to appreciate it. Some businesses just aren’t aware that listening to your audience makes your audience more receptive to listening to you as well. Are you sure you’re even speaking to the correct audience if you aren’t listening?
Social Media and Addiction Treatment Centers: The Perfect Alliance
Not every business can take full advantage of what social media offers. An addiction treatment center, however, couldn’t possibly be a better fit for social media. Social media affords opportunities to interact with the public in a much more intimate way than other types of communication. The more you inform the public, the more it will address your business goals for brand trust, recruiting top talent, building colleague and customer affinity, and establishing a real community.
For addiction treatment centers, social media offers a very effective way to maintain relationships with people who have been experiencing difficulties with addiction, either currently or in the past. For your former patients, the communication that social media offers may spell the difference between their successful recovery and relapse.
If you hope to reach former patients and remain involved through social media, you have to provide answers to the following questions that they may have:
- Can your facility still help me now that I’ve completed the program?
- Is this a place where I can easily connect with former patients that I have common ground with?
- Is your facility doing things that I’d like others to know about? Things that they might find beneficial?
- What improvements have been made to your program since I completed treatment?
- Where are you best suited to help others I know?
Any ethical addiction treatment center will naturally strive for a low relapse rate. Staying connected to former patients through social media can make this possible. The former patient who feels no true connection to the facility where he or she received treatment is the patient with the greatest possibility of relapsing. Community combats isolation and can continuously deliver hope and reminders of the tools gained in treatment.
When former patients can feel a tangible connection to your addiction treatment center, two very good things become evident:
- They sense that you’re in their corner, this trust can be tremendously reassuring.
- They’re less likely to relapse.
With an effective social media presence in place, it’s far more likely that former patients can experience long-term recovery. Naturally, some people are going to relapse, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. As we all know, it’s simply a regrettable part of the territory in addiction treatment. However, there is much facilities can do to minimize this possibility, which is why your social media presence needs to be effective.
Everything you post, every discussion you get into on social media should create an impression in former patients’ minds that your facility is their safe harbor. The same is true for your other audiences as well. They need to sense that you’ve got their back. They need to understand that coming back to your facility is the next logical step after relapse… not ignoring what has happened… not going somewhere else for help. In the end, they should see going back to your facility as the most logical step. Through social content and messaging you’ve become a trusted part of their community and a partner in their recovery.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that no one is in a better position to refer new patients to your facility than former patients. Without question, an alumni program, strongly supported by social media, makes this process easier.
Sincerity in this communication also fosters the respect of colleagues likely to refer patients to you, as well as candidates who’d consider joining your team.
Establish Your Social Reputation
In social media, a good social reputation is crucial. Your addiction treatment center needs to have a large number of quality followers who remain active on social media. However, sheer numbers of followers should never be the overriding goal in your social media efforts, regardless of what some people would have you believe.
Being followed by a lot of recently created accounts or accounts that are largely inactive won’t help your social media efforts. Twitter, for example, will periodically delete accounts it believes to be robots. In most cases, they’re looking at accounts following a lot of others but have few or no followers themselves. Also, these accounts tend to make few posts and, when they do, it’s generally a reposting of someone else’s material. In the end, such accounts don’t help you, even if having higher follower numbers feels good.
Having engaged and established followers can help with your social media presence. These people frequently post and many others are following them, which gives you a better chance of having a good social reputation when they follow you.
You guard your facility’s reputation in every other venue. Do it on social media as well. Many treatment centers do a poor job of garnering or responding to social reviews, good or bad, and can strengthen their presence online by doing so effectively.
Are You Getting Enough Social Shares?
Social media shares are just as important as other social media signals. If an account doesn’t share or only shares certain very particular types of content, it will likely be perceived as a bot.
Having a social media presence could be determined by something as simple as users choosing to trust a website. For brand awareness, it’s important to have an active social media campaign. That means frequent engagement—not one post every other month.
It’s also important that people have a desire to share your content. They won’t share anything that amounts to blatant advertising. They’ll share info that they find genuinely useful. This can be images, events, articles, themed content, anything relevant really.
The more they share your information, the more widely viewed it will be, which means the more likely it is that people will find their way to your facility’s website. Clearly, building a social network can be an effective addition to your overall addiction treatment marketing plan. Perhaps even several if you intend to generate content tuned to families, colleagues, or recruiting candidates as well.
Social Media Is the Perfect Conduit for Effectively Staying In Touch With Former Patients and Reaching Out to New Ones
Social media can be like a lifeline to your former patients, and a welcoming station to others who are coming to grips with the fact that they have an addiction problem. Through the immediacy of social media, information is easily distributed, which can lead to informative discussions relevant to addiction treatment, such as how to remain sober.
Hard-copy newsletters were once the best way of staying in touch with an interested audience. Today, that option edges closer and closer to extinction. And, let’s not forget, your patients are only getting younger (although in some regions, that’s not always the case). Social media is what people understand, and that’s the medium you should be using to reach them.
Social Sharing Strengthens Relationships With Former Patients & Prospective New Patients
As you strive to build a better relationship with former patients and prospective patients on social media, remember that you have some distinct advantages available to you that no other type of marketing media offers… like social sharing. Shared content often goes to family members and recovery support peers.
In the absolutely ideal situation, other people on social media basically promote your material for you—once you get the ball rolling. Social sharing is a powerful tool that validates what you’re trying to do. Therefore, you have even more incentive to upgrade your addiction treatment center’s social media presence.
Link sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is something all companies strive for. Unlike every other form of marketing, in social media, people can actively promote your business for you, even if that isn’t their actual intention. Social media allows a link to be shared and seen by hundreds or even thousands of people (depending on who is doing the sharing). As a result, you could say that social media is word-of-mouth marketing taken to a whole new level. Every post is a press release directly to those who’d be most likely to share its content.
What Should Your Facility Talk About on Social Media?
As mentioned earlier, social media isn’t a place to blatantly advertise your addiction treatment center. Instead, you must provide something useful and informative to others. Fortunately, there are many excellent topics that are perfectly suited to discussion on social media:
- Tips for avoiding relapse; or themed content in a series
- Open up discussions about people’s personal experiences with the threat of relapse
- Inspirational graphics
- Discuss any significant news related to addiction treatment advancements and innovations
- Announce the addition of a new addiction treatment therapy or service
- Talk about a new location or a new building at your facility
- Any significant upgrades made to your center in terms of amenities
- Announce the arrival of any new doctors or therapists, or job opportunities
Always remember that others look at what you discuss in social media with the perspective of, “What’s in it for me?” Serve their needs and yours will be served in return. Blatant paid ads convert very poorly on the major social platforms compared to other paid media channels.
Promoting Alumni Events Through Social Media Pays Dividends
Maintaining a relationship with former patients will naturally go beyond maintaining contact through social media. Alumni events, for example, are an important aspect to your relationship with former patients. These events are opportunities to provide rewarding experiences for your former patients as they celebrate their recovery success. And, of course, you always want to reinforce the idea that this success is directly related to attending your addiction treatment facility.
When former patients get together for an event at your facility, they’ll compare notes and look to see what others are doing. When they look around and see so many other former patients doing well, it’s inspirational. It’s also an excellent confirmation that your facility has made a significant difference in their lives. That’s the real power of these events. Naturally, you want to do whatever you can to make these events successful. Social media can accomplish that.
Promoting Your Alumni Events on Social Media
A good event for former patients is a natural subject for discussion on your social media accounts. It can be a good way to build up excitement about the event, as well as give details that will hopefully make people want to come.
Event themes for your alumni event may include things like the following:
- Sober Super Bowl
- Sober Halloween
- Sober Holiday/New Years
- Sober July 4th
- Alumni Yearly Picnic
- Social Clubs and Sporting Events
It’s no coincidence that these suggestions serve as an alternative to similar holiday parties that often involve a lot of drinking and/or drug taking. Many sober people still want to be social on holidays but are likely to feel awkward at parties where drinking or drugs are the norm. You make it possible for your former patients to socialize in what could be considered a “safe” setting.
Depending on the theme of the event, inviting an inspirational speaker can add extra meaning and impact. This, of course, is something you can discuss on social media to create some buzz ahead of time. For example, this speaker could be a former patient who:
- Became a success in the business world after treatment
- Has gotten many others to choose addiction treatment
- Fought & won a battle against relapse
- Is a celebrity rehab patient who has stayed sober
- Is an inspirational therapist or public speaker
Use Social Media For Follow Up After the Event
Follow up matters with alumni events (or any events for that matter). Fortunately, social media is perfect for this function. Posting event photos on social media, for example, gives you a reason to be in contact with everyone again. Through the immediacy of social media, you can thank them one more time for coming and let the photos serve as a reminder of the rewarding time they had at your facility’s event. Also, you can recap any important discussions that may have taken place at the event, and possibly ignite further discussions online—just exactly the kind of thing you want to happen. This is the kind of scenario when strong social reviews are attained.
In addition, social media can be used to remind former patients of the next planned event and the date. Naturally, some of the very best event photos should probably make it onto your alumni website page as well. As with all good marketing, one aspect supports another aspect, contributing to the success of the whole.
You’ve helped countless patients overcome addiction. That is a powerful shared experience that they will never forget and be eternally grateful for. However, once they have left your direct care, they face daily challenges to maintain what they have accomplished. They need your continued support as they fight the daily battle against temptation and relapse. It’s imperative to their continuum of care that former patients—your alumni—have a way to maintain a meaningful relationship with you.
Social media, unlike any other marketing channel that came before it, is conversational in nature. Unlike your website, a more static one-sided presentation of your facility and services, social media was developed as, and is devoted to, the direct connection and ongoing conversation between producer and consumer. It naturally lends itself to the cultivation and fostering of meaningful conversation that can be an invaluable source of reassurance, help, and community connection for your alumni.
Oh! … and there is a wonderful secondary effect to developing a strong alumni community on social media. This is where that “eternally grateful” part comes in: alumni success is shared success. The more your social relationships and community grow, the more of your alumni become brand ambassadors, willing to amplify your message to their social circles as well.
In 2020, developing and executing a consistent and meaningful social strategy is critical to both your alumni’s continued success, as well as the growth of your treatment center. In fact, they are inextricably tied together. When first-time patients begin a search for help, more than likely that search will begin online. And while your website may be their first exposure to your treatment center, it’s just as likely that it will be a social media channel or review website, making it critical that these sources get the equal care and thoughtful attention you have afforded your website. When making any first impression, but especially the one where a person is trusting you with their medical care and life, it is imperative that their impression be one that confirms a positive reputation and established trust.
Whether or not your center’s social media management is a project your team is capable of taking on and maintaining on its own is an important question to answer. No matter the initial thinking, it’s often helpful to get unbiased advice of an agency who knows the technical ins and out, as well as the commitments required for success.
Dreamscape Marketing is dedicated to the needs of addiction treatment centers. Since 2005 we have designed and launched hundreds of addiction treatment websites, and have been acknowledged many times for the work we do. Recently, we were lucky enough to have been recognized as one of the top five SEO agencies in the country. While accolades are nice, the real proof is the results. We do what we do to achieve the kind of results our clients need, not just win awards. That’s what really matters. With that commitment to relentless improvement in mind, we have developed and launched a full suite of social media management services to further compliment our digital marketing strategy and deliver client success.
Good addiction treatment digital marketing begins with a design, content, and SEO team that has the necessary knowledge and experience. Dreamscape Marketing is ready to tackle all of your facility’s digital marketing needs. Let’s make this happen. Contact us at 888-307-7304 or through our website dreamscapedigitalmarketing.com.