Four years ago, I left my fee-for-service, insurance-based practice and started a cash-only, direct primary care practice (charging my patients a $30 to $65 monthly membership fee). My financial survival depends on my ability to attract and keep patients, which means that marketing has suddenly gotten much more important for my practice. Like most businesses, my best advertisement is word-of-mouth recommendations from happy patients. Beyond that, I've found that my most effective marketing tool, by far, is Facebook.
Before moving on, I need to make it clear that I am talking about a Facebook page for your practice, not a personal Facebook account. It is unwise, in my opinion, to interact with patients using their personal Facebook accounts, as it gives an intimate level of access to information about you, your family, and your friends. This is difficult for our practice, as patients often are very fond of me and my office staff, and so, consider us friends. But that friendship has to have boundaries, and just as I would not invite my patients home for dinner, I keep the same boundaries in the world of social media.
The good news is that Facebook pages allow social interactions with boundaries intact. The pages are easy to set up (as long as you have a personal account), allowing you to give easy access to general information about your medical practice (office hours, location), post pictures of your office (and staff, if they give permission), and make general announcements, such as closings for holidays, etc. People can "like" your page, meaning that whatever you post on your page goes on their timelines as well. My page has nearly 2,000 "likes," which lets me reach out easily to a large number of people — most of whom are local.
Let me remind you that this is all completely free of charge. Free is good.
The next level
Having a static Facebook page with basic information about your practice (basically an online billboard) is only the first level of social media marketing. One of the keys to successful marketing on Facebook is to make your page interesting. Post material on it frequently, sharing information about your practice, but also sharing articles and pictures that you think people will find interesting. This takes time and a little bit of forethought about what information is worth sharing. This makes your page a place of discussion, interaction, and somewhere people can go to find interesting stuff.