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Let’s talk about the social media platforms used most often by optometrists. This discussion will center on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Of course, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ are also used by optometrists, but with less frequency.
There are unique characteristics and demographics for each social media platform. Therefore, each platform has different pros and cons to consider when deciding what will work best for your practice. For example,the creation of content, frequency of posting, and exposure are just some of the factors to consider.
I am by no means an authority on social media. But I have read and researched a lot on the subject and have looked at hundreds of different doctors pages. So even though I am not an authority, I have formulated some opinions on what works well and what doesn’t.
TIMELINE AND GENERAL INFORMATION
It still amazes me that something as new as social media has changed our world in such a short time. It is so much a part of our daily lives that it is hard to remember a time when it didn’t exist. Of the major platforms in use today, LinkedIn began in 2003. Other platforms followed: YouTube in 2005, Facebook and Twitter in 2006, Google+ and Tumblr in 2007, Pinterest and Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011.
There are platforms that are post based formats like Facebook and Twitter. The image based platforms are Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Tumblr. The video-based platform is YouTube.
My personal recommendation is to not spread yourself too thin. As you take on more platforms, you create additional pressure on yourself to keep them all up to date. Therefore, I recommend that you select one and when you feel comfortable, then consider adding another.
When you’re deciding where to start, consider running an informal survey of patients in your office. Find out which platforms are the most popular with your patients and put your efforts there. Or, if you are trying to attract a certain type of patient demographic, choose the platform most likely to attract that group. A good source of this information is: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-demographics/
For marketing a practice, I feel that Facebook is the best place to start. It is still the largest platform boasting 1.4 billion daily active users. It has a wide age demographic as well. If you are looking for people in an older demographic (30+ years and older), then Facebook is the platform to choose.
Facebook’s format lends itself well to educational posts with information about eyes and vision. But, it is also excellent with general information such as: changes in office hours, trunk shows or events, and new frame lines.
Yet, the most important function Facebook has is its ability to entertain and engage visitors to you page. Frequent use of posts that are funny or inspirational helps entertain and encourage people to return to your page. Engaging with readers comes when you use games, challenges, or ask questions to start a conversation. Keep in mind that it is called social media for a reason. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to get people to comment or share your content with their friends.
Since we can’t always spend extra time with our patients while they are in the office, Facebook can help us make that connection. In other words, social media can let your patients know you on a more personal level. One thing that I have noticed that tends to get the most comments on doctor’s pages is personal information about the doctor or staff. For example share staff birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, graduations and weddings if your staff feels comfortable with sharing this information. Personal information like this is generally well received. We trust people we can relate to. We find it much easier to be loyal to a person than an impersonal business entity.
Instagram is also popular with many doctors. Instagram has more than a billion users. 71% of Americans age 18-24 use Instagram. As a result it is the best platform to reach the patients who fall into the millennial age group.
This is a visual platform which I feel is appropriate for a visual profession. It is an excellent place to show pictures of your office and staff. You can also feature frame lines you sell, though I would not suggest that this be the only thing you show. Only using sales oriented content will not inspire people to return to your page. Vary your content.
Study other Instagram pages to get ideas. Be creative and show your staff in action. Show your work in the community. Feature things you care about like a charity you support. You could provide links to your blogs if you have some on your website. You could salute different holidays or celebrations.
Content should be predominately visual and entertaining. Instagram can educate, but since it is a visual scanning platform, you would not want to use many posts with a lot of text to read.
Though the visitors to your page can like and comment, it does not tend to promote a conversation as much as Facebook does. You can use some of the same content on both Facebook and Instagram. Get your staff to create content by taking interesting pictures throughout the day. Have them take pictures of what they think is fun or interesting in the practice.
Pinterest is under-utilized by most practices. It allows you to share what you like including hobbies, fashion, and crafts. Pinterest has 200 million users every month. It reaches 83% of all women 25-54 years old in the United States.
This is an easy platform to use. Whereas, Facebook and Instagram both require you to create content, Pinterest does not. If desired, you can create original content, but most people pin content from other pages in Pinterest. Once you create boards, you do not need to add pins on a regular basis.
It is another visual platform and a great way to show the personal side of you and your staff. Not only can you have boards that feature eye-related information, but you can create boards that highlight your hobbies and interests.
Another advantage is that this platform can be delegated to your staff. I would bet that there is someone on your staff who enjoys Pinterest. Ask them if they want to create and maintain your boards.
However, I would tell you to be cautious. Just as anywhere else on the internet, there is good information mixed with false and misleading information. I see some bad information on some doctor pages. Above all you want your page to reflect accurate advice and answers that a patient would receive in your office, so check questionable pins.
We can help you there. What’s in Focus has a curated page: https://www.pinterest.com/whatsinfocus/boards/. Therefore you could direct your staff to that page to get started and know that it has all been checked. We have a wide variety of boards that cover a lot of different topics- some related to eyes, but others that might be of interest to your readers.
We also have a free resource on our website about Pinterest with information on how to get started. https://whatsinfocus.com/resources/
I hope that after reading this you stop to think about how you can improve your social media presence. Social media can be fun for you and your patients. There are some basic rules to follow.
- Post regularly to your pages.
- Have good, interesting and varied content to keep visitors to your page entertained and willing to return to see more.
- Respond to comments or questions promptly. Start a conversation.
Creating a social media persona that is caring and fun can convert visitors to your page into patients. It can also build trust and patient loyalty. Social media can be a valuable tool in marketing your practice.
If you are overwhelmed and would like help in developing and posting content to Facebook, check out our subscription service: https://whatsinfocus.com/services/#Communication
How many social platforms do you use in your practice? Which platform works best for you? How do you find content? What content seems most popular with your patients? Leave your comments below and help other optometrists make social media work for them.