When delving into the ever‑changing world of social media, Facebook is the first stop for most doctors and clinics. Your Facebook business page is a powerful way in which to interact with your customers and potential customers. It is important to keep listening and engaging with your audience to understand what people think about your product or service. Facebook can be an effective communication tool to improve relationships with consumers — if you are ready to make a long-term commitment.

Updated pages

Facebook business pages have come of age as a mandatory marketing platform for everything from airlines to celebrities to professionals. Pages offer many distinct benefits, including the ability to brand pages with a unique cover photo, pin posts at the top of the page to highlight quality content, and private messaging between pages and fans. While your profile picture will remain the same, the layout and how patients interact with the rest of your page have undergone some major changes. In addition to your existing profile picture, you can select a larger cover photo that will now dominate the top of your page.

To make the most of this banner-style image, design something creative and engaging to stand out from the crowd. Brand page cover pictures are not clickable; text links here may confuse fans. Cover photos for brands are the same size as those for personal profiles. These images can be changed, rotated or updated as often as you like to keep the page fresh.

Facebook guidelines for what cover images may not contain include price or purchase information, such as ‘40% off’ or ‘Download via our website’, contact information, references to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or calls to action, such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Tell your friends’. The profile picture sits on the left side with the top half laid over the cover picture. Using a contrasting colour or border will help to showcase the profile image, and a square image is best to avoid distortion.

Custom tabs and apps

You can also add custom applications and branded tabs to the top of your page. The basic links to your photo album, likes, and info can still be viewed, but in a more uniform and prominent display.  Apps let you highlight specific areas of focus beyond the basic information on your main page, such as sub-pages so that fans can learn more about each service line and view embedded videos. You could also use apps to post additional locations, promote a fundraising initiative, or share information about upcoming events or announcements. By default, photos are always the first tab displayed along the top of the profile. However, brands can now also choose other tabs to highlight, to allow for a greater level of personalisation.

You are able to customise how the stories appear by pinning them to the top of the timeline, starring them, or even hiding them from fans’ eyes. Adding milestones to your timeline is a good way to share important events in the history of you practice. They now show exactly how patients interact with your page by publicly displaying metrics on those interactions. The goal is to display your best content or elements that keep users engaged and stay on the page. You are allowed to highlight a maximum of 12 tabs, with only the first four showing (including photos) by default.

The updated page design allows you to expand posts to feature them more prominently on the page. By hovering over a post and using the star icon, it is easy to feature it, or the pencil icon can be used to hide or delete posts. Using the star icon to feature a post creates what Facebook calls a ‘Milestone’, which should be taken into consideration when choosing which content to highlight. Brands can also now pin a post to the top of their feed.

One strategy that is commonly used on Facebook physician pages is to post a disclaimer about your Privacy Policy or Social Media Policy on the page. For example, a statement explaining your restrictions: ‘Thank you for visiting our Facebook Page. We welcome your comments and posts but we take our patients’ right to privacy seriously. We cannot offer medical advice or respond to individual questions in a public forum. Please feel free to contact us directly at [email protected] and we will be happy to respond privately.’ This can be created in a tab format as well.