Facebook continues to be an excellent medium for marketing your optometric practice. Even if you don't get what all the fuss is about with social media, realize that almost 1 billion people use Facebook! Your patients and your community are reading it every day and that is reason enough for your practice to be there. Facebook is free advertising and it allows you to reach people in a unique way. Unlike your practice website, which requires people to navigate to it in order to read it, Facebook pushes information out to the public. That difference is huge.
Most ODs are aware of this and have already designed a Facebook page for their practice. When I lecture to large groups of ODs and ask for a show of hands if you are on FB, I see at least half the people responding. Usually, a business Facebook page is separate from the owner's personal page. I like it that way and I think you should have both, but this article will focus on the business page.
Why do you want more likes?
One major goal of a business Facebook page is to get many people to "like" your page. This is the equivalent of being a "friend" on a personal FB page. Liking a page is simple (you just click on the like button) and FB users find it cool because it lets their friends see what they like.
People who like a business page are basically subscribing to it! That is why you want many likes on your page, because everyone who likes your page will see your posts. Your posts will typically be a few sentences about eye care along with a photo, video or a link to a website. That is great advertising for your practice and it often builds even more power because if it is interesting, one of your fans may share it with their friends and then your reach becomes very large.
For example, my practice posted a very cool optical illusion once and one of our patients shared it and added a statement: "This was posted by my eye doctor! Check it out!" This patient had over 1,200 friends who saw that post and now they all know that I'm her doctor. Many of these strangers went to our page and liked us and now receive all future posts.
Ways to get more likes
It really is easy to get more likes on your Facebook page. FB users are happy to like you and they think nothing of it. Here are some good ways to encourage likes.
Ask for them. This is really effective. Your staff can ask patients as they check in or check out... please go to our page and like us. You can also put a FB logo and link at the bottom of all your emails to please like us on Facebook. Ask it on your website home page as well.
Send an email blast asking for likes. You could send a mass email to all your patients giving them the link for your Facebook page and asking them to like it. The link can go directly to the like section of your page or can just read: click here to like us. If you have no idea how to send a mass email to your patients or how to get the email addresses, send me an email and ask me.
Run a contest. In conjunction with the email blast above, how about announcing that everyone who likes your page in the next two weeks will be entered into a contest to win a free pair of designer sunglasses! Then, your staff takes a photo of the winner wearing the shades and posts it on your page!
Ask your friends to like your page. You can post a link on your personal FB wall to like your practice page. Your friends will likely comply.
Forums like ODs on Facebook, ODWire, Optcom or SightNation often have campaigns for doctors helping each other out by liking each other's pages.
Thank you messages. The electronic communication firms that work with optometric practices have a system that sends a thank you message via email to every patient who is seen for an exam. Place a "like our page" button in the body of the message.
Donate to a charity. Tell patients that a donation will be made to a worthy sight saving organization for each like.
Have a sign at your front desk. Provide your Facebook page name and ask patients to like you and also to "check in" on their smart phone. Many patients sit in your reception area and use their phone for texting, email or internet browsing while they are waiting.
Develop good content
Just as important as getting more likes, be sure to post on a regular basis and have high quality content. If someone visits your page and sees the most recent post was three months ago, a poor impression is created. Delegate the job of posting to a staff member and tell them to be creative. Browse other OD's pages and see what they do.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.