Patients visit you annually for their eye exams, but are they interacting with you throughout the year? Social media gives your practice the opportunity to connect with patients 365 days of the year, amplifying the patient experience, while allowing your practice to showcase your brand and eye care expertise on a public forum.
That said, maintaining a social media presence takes time and dedication. When done well, however, a social media strategy — which should be a portion of an overall marketing strategy — can help a practice realize increased traffic and solidify a practice’s brand in a measurable way.
Follow these eight tips for a successful social media strategy.
1 SET A GOAL
A successful social media strategy will have a goal: increase traffic to your website, increase sales, educate or establish awareness of your products and services. Set a specific, attainable goal to drive results and to which you will circle back to measure your success: for example, increase traffic to the website by 5% in the first half of the year.
2 DEVELOP CROSS-CHANNEL MARKETING
Audiences vary by social media channel, and your customers use all of them. While Facebook has a widespread user age demographic, Instagram caters more to millennials. You can tailor your marketing message on each to fit your audience. This doesn’t mean you need to be a jack of all trades. Knowing where your key audience spends time will help you determine where you should be putting your time and effort.
Cross-channel, or multi-channel, marketing involves using multiple online channels to reach customers. In doing so, keep your messages and graphics consistent to increase brand recognition.
3 ENSURE ACCURACY
Double check your business category, address, phone number, hours of operation and phone number on your social media channels.
You also can add a call to action button on your page that will direct people to book an appointment, contact you or learn more about your business. This button should be reflective of your goal.
Finally, don’t forget to add a vibrant cover image that showcases your brand.
4 CONSIDER PAID ADS
Over the past few years, it has become more difficult for businesses to reach their audiences organically. Networks, like Facebook, now place a higher importance on personal interactions with family and friends, which decreases brand visibility for businesses. It’s therefore necessary to consider paid options, which can help you to reach followers, target potential patients and showcase products and services. Social media channels have added buttons to posts to give you the option to target patients based on their age, location, gender and interests, as well as set a name, time length and budget for your campaign using content already on your page.
For example, Facebook inserted a “boost” button underneath posts. (More on boosting here: bit.ly/FBBOOST .) Also, Instagram and Pinterest provide a “promote” option for business accounts.
You do not have to put a lot of dollars into social media advertising to achieve great results! Manipulate the dollars spent in the ad portal before committing to the promotion to see the potential reach of the post vs. the cost.
Bonus tip: If you are focusing on generating visits or appointments through your website, ask your web developer to set up a tracking code, to gauge the success of your campaigns. Don’t have a web developer? Create a specific shortened link via a free platform you’ve registered for, for example bit.ly, and track the results.
5 MIX UP CONTENT
While posting consistently is important to keep your followers engaged — we recommend one to two times per day — producing quality content is king in 2019.
Multiple resources offer content in the industry: Ask vendor partners for images and materials. Utilize information from reputable sources, such as the AOA. (Also, download images and messaging from Optometric Management’s “Social Media Toolkit.”)
Developing original content helps increase in-terest for your brand and entices users to engage by sharing and commenting. For example, showcase your doctors and employees on your social media! (At Midwest Eye Consultants, our employees sign a photo release form when they are hired. Another form is used for patients, when this is necessary.) Their involvement in the local community, volunteer activities and education are all great opportunities to do so. Additionally, encourage your staff to share your content. Each share has the potential to reach the masses, increase your followers and bring more patients through your doors.
Original content is also influential to your SEO (search engine optimization). For example, adding a blog to your website gives you shareable content and encourages other websites to link to you, allowing you to build a hub of authoritative content and backlinks that Google, and other search engines, take into account when internet users are querying search terms relevant to your business. Blog posts can share your expertise in eye care, products and services you provide — and that make you stand out — community involvement and current promotions.
Additionally, remember that social media is visual. Add high-quality images to your posts that tie in to your content. If you don’t have the budget for a stock image subscription or the capability to create a compelling graphic, use free resources, such as Unsplash, Pexels and Canva.
Video also should be a part of your content calendar and social media marketing strategy. On Facebook alone, around 100 million hours of video are watched every day. (Find an example of a vendor-provided video on our Facebook page: bit.ly/2MUJTBL .)
Finally, don’t forget to be responsive to your followers. Engage with your followers by, for example, creating a fun contest that aligns with one of your marketing campaigns, such as a photo contest, that will encourage positive online engagement and give you great content to share on your social media channels. for example, consider asking your patients to submit their sunglass selfies on National Sunglasses Day, June 27.
6 PROTECT YOUR REPUTATION
Online users searching for an eye doctor are combing through your reviews and basing their decisions on other’s experiences. As a result, practices should manage posted content. To do so, respond to negative feedback, and encourage happy patients to contribute positive feedback. Interacting with your patient base humanizes your brand, makes you relatable and helps counteract any negative comments out there.
One thing to be aware of is remaining HIPAA compliant when responding to reviews and complaints online. To accomplish this, keep responses generic, and encourage the patient to call your practice to discuss any issues. For example, “We want every patient to have an exceptional experience, and we take complaints very seriously. Please contact us, so we can resolve any problems.”
7 WORK SMART
Social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, provide shortcuts to push your content to multiple social media networks at one time. Features, such as social media analytics and trend reports, allow scheduling tools to be used as a metric-gathering method as well. All it takes is blocking a couple hours every week to sit down and create and schedule your content.
8 MONITOR YOUR COMPETITION
Social media networks, particularly Facebook, have made recent updates, so businesses can more easily keep track of competitors and what they are advertising. This can give you a competitive advantage. Facebook’s “Info and Ads” section on each business page allows the public to see any advertising currently running on the platform.
Take this handful of tips, and dive into the world of social media marketing. With a solid strategy and extensive bank of content, you can join those at the forefront. OM