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SOCIAL MEDIA DO’S AND DONT’S FOR OPTOMETRY

Reading time 6:15

We know social media participation is important to our practices.  And of course, we want to do it well. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  For every inspired post you create, how many more times did you struggle to find something to say?  The fall back post is always something about the importance of routine eye exams, or the latest frames in your office.  

I will try and share some helpful hints for improving social media participation.  Included are ideas that help you make a bigger impact on your audience.  Converting visitors to your page into patients in your office could be a secondary benefit.

SOCIAL MEDIA ENHANCES YOUR BRAND

You want your pages to have a personality that reflects what a patient will experience in your office. For example, if your office is casual, then the content should not be formal and stiff. If your office is friendly and open, then your content should be interesting and engaging. Consistency across all means of communication is important to your brand.  You don’t want a patient to enter your office expecting one thing and then experiencing something different. 

Today it can be difficult to make a connection with our patients when they are in our offices.  We no longer have the luxury of time to talk to our patients, share common interests and develop a rapport.  That is one way social media can be an asset to our practices. It allows patients to learn more about us in the informal setting of social media. 

It is well known that we relate better to people than to an impersonal business entity. On social media, we can showcase ourselves and our staff as individuals. Or share our hobbies and outside interests.   We can feature the charities we support and show our community involvement.  This information may also be available on our websites.  But, our patients are more likely to be on social media than on our websites. 

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT THE SAME AS ADVERTISING

One of the biggest problems with social media is we try to treat it like conventional advertising. That is a big mistake! Experts in the field of social media marketing stress that social media is different.

In traditional advertising, the message is what the owner chooses to convey.  But, that doesn’t work on social media platforms. With social media, the emphasis should always be on what the consumer wants and finds interesting.   Social media requires that we orient the content on our pages in a different way. Content needs to reflect the interests of the consumer.  The format needs to have a strong visual appeal. It should be engaging and entertaining. 

You want to create a connection with your audience.  You want visitors to your page to like, comment and share your content.  Comments allow you to begin a conversation with the visitor to your page.  But, sharing increases your audience.  Shared content allows your posts to reach many more people and introduces your practice to a new group of potential patients. But, sharing content will only happen if you provide interesting and engaging content on a routine basis.

THE RULE OF SEVEN

You also want visitors to come back to your page to see new posts. Studies have shown that one exposure does not usually convert a visitor to your page into a visitor in your office.   In marketing, there is the Rule of Seven. It says that a consumer must hear the advertiser’s message at least seven times before they take action to buy the product or service.  Other studies have suggested different numbers of exposures. Some say more than seven and some say less.  But all agree that increased exposure to your brand will convert more people from a visitor to a patient/consumer. Don’t let that number discourage you.  Instead use it to inspire you to create better content.

CREATING CONTENT

So to maximize the sharing of your posts and encourage returns to you page, content must be interesting and unique.  The types of posts should vary and include photos, illustrations, graphics and videos.  You don’t want all your posts to look the same.  The posts should stand out and capture the reader’s attention.  Content topics should also vary. Alternate between educational information, sales oriented material and miscellaneous posts to inspire or grab their attention. Fun and entertaining input is also essential.

Don’t make your whole purpose, and all your content, sales oriented. That is a huge mistake!  Readers on social media are very savvy to over-selling. They will not stay on your page for long, and they definitely will not return, if all they see are frames and posts instructing them to have an exam or buy glasses. Think about your own response when you see one ad after another. Do you seek out more of the same? You know you don’t!

If the thought of trying to create your own content does not appeal to you, then consider delegating. Do you have a staff member who is creative and loves social media?  They can be a good resource for your practice. They can take your ideas and put them into an interesting post for social media. Keep in mind, there are also social media subscription services who not only create the posts, but post them for you as well.  Our company has a service that we are proud of and encourage you to check it out.  https://whatsinfocus.com/services/#Communication

CONTENT OVERLOAD

There is so much content available to us.  People can pick and choose what they want to spend their time on.  Make sure you’re providing content that appeals to your target audience or they will not visit your page and spend the time reading it.

 We have become a society obsessed with scanning and rejecting content faster than ever before.  Think about what you do when looking at social media.  What makes you stop and examine something?  What makes you return to a site?  You can learn from other people’s content. Always be observant and try and incorporate the ideas of what you find interesting when designing your own content.  But, also be careful to not violate anyone’s copyrighted material.

PROMOTE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

To encourage visits to your social media pages be sure to have signage in your office.  Put you social media information on your business cards, receipts etc.

Ask your patients to visit your pages. It never hurts to ask them.  They may not even be aware you have a page.  Don’t be passive and sit around hoping patients will find you on social media.  Encourage them to go to your pages and then reward them with great content.

Contests are also a great way to increase engagement. Read Facebook’s rules on contests to be certain you are not in violation. Rather than having people fill out a raffle ticket- liking, commenting or sharing can earn a person entries into a raffle.  For example, a like could be worth one point. Sharing is more valuable to you and could be assigned a higher value like two entries per share.  Since commenting requires more than just a click, it would have the highest value. This encourages people to interact with your social media page. 

If you are having a contest, you can get creative with the prizes.  Personally I don’t like it to be something from my office like a discount or free frame.  People view this as self-serving.  Patients interpret this as you just trying to get them to buy another pair of glasses because they will still have to pay for the lenses. There are many potential problems when patients want to use their insurances. It can get complicated.  It is not quite the enticement you may think it would be. 

Be creative and come up with something that will appeal to your patients.  Gift certificates to other local businesses can show your community involvement.  Tickets to movies, concerts or games can have high appeal.  

You can find great items on Zulily, Haute Look, QVC and other internet sites. Items that tie in with your frame lines can be a natural like purses or wallets from Vera Bradley, Coach, Kate Spade and other designers.  If you look for good deals, you can get a great gift that would impress your patients and still not break the bank.  You don’t have to do this every month, but doing it now and then can boost the activity on your page.

NOW TAKE ACTION

Take the time to look at your social media presence and come up with a plan on how to improve and expand it.  Share your knowledge about the eye and vision. Remember your excitement when you first learned about the eye and use that when you create content.  Your patients will find it interesting too, especially when you put it in a way they can understand. 

Remember social media is not a static entity.  It changes quickly and requires you to post fresh new material on a regular basis.  It can be an effective tool to help build your practice. But for it to be most effective, you must promote it to your patients and fill it with information they will find interesting. Ask your staff and patients for content ideas.  Be creative. Let your social media pages enhance your patient’s experiences with your practice.  

If you would like to learn more about social media mistakes that are commonly made here is a link to a Forbes article on that topic.   

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/05/01/12-social-media-mistakes-that-will-drive-followers-away-from-your-brand/#6f2da4e6855a

Do you use social media to market your practice?  If so, how did you decide which social media platforms to use?  Do you vary your content from one platform to the next, or use the same content?  How often do you post?  Leave your comments below and share your suggestions on how to use social media effectively.

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