Optometric Management Tip # 527   -   Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Using Facebook to Market Your Practice

Chances are good you have a Facebook page. When I ask large audiences of eye care professionals (ECPs) if they have one, about 75% of the people raise their hands. Facebook is projected to have 1 billion users this summer! That means a large number of your patients use Facebook and there is no doubt that social media offers some strong marketing opportunities for your practice — and it's free! But many ECPs have Facebook pages that are simply not active. They sit there and do nothing and very few patients see it. Let's look at some entry-level ways to make Facebook work for you as a marketing strategy.

Personal and business pages
First, you must have a Facebook page. You may want to have a presence on other social networks as well, but FB is a great place to start. Facebook allows you to have profiles (or pages) that are personal or for a business. They work slightly differently, but if you are not on FB, register first as a person (with your own name) to understand the system and then design a page for your practice later. It is really very easy. Just go to Facebook.com.

I strongly recommend that the doctor/practice owner delegate Facebook updates to a staff member. The FB business page can have multiple administrators who have access to the account and can post under the name of the business. Of course, the doctor can be very active in the social media process, but I recommend regular and frequent posts and that may be easier if a staff member handles it.

Why and how to get more likes
You want to have a lot of people "like" your business Facebook page because those are the people who will see your updates and posts. Hopefully, some of them will comment or like one of your posts and when that happens, all of their friends will also see your post. This is how Facebook can introduce your practice to a large number of people. Your practice can stay visible to your patients and your fans on a regular basis. That is a powerful relationship builder.

It is pretty easy to get more likes; just ask people to like your page. Most FB users are happy to do so and have liked hundreds of pages, so it's no big deal. Just ask. Consider these strategies to get more likes.

What to post
After your practice page is set up, you need to post interesting updates that are appropriate for patients. That is the market this page is targeting. Use your personal FB page for your personal life. You want to post fairly often but not become annoying. If your fans don't like your posts, they can easily and invisibly unsubscribe from your feed and no longer see them. I think a good schedule is about two updates per week, but this can vary with personal preference. Once you get some ideas about updates, it only takes a few minutes to post it.

Facebook is designed for photos and videos. Try to have a picture of some kind on all your updates. I think the best posts are about your practice rather than some boilerplate fact about the eye from some other source. On the other hand, if you mix it up, posting a link to an expert resource or organization in eye care is easy and informative.

Consider these ideas for posts:

This overview is just a very simple introduction, but the important thing is to keep your Facebook page active. It only takes a few minutes per week but it can grow into a powerful marketing program.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management