By Maddie Langston, IDOC Practice Marketing Consultant
Love it or hate it, Facebook is a place where many people spend time daily. While it’s not as popular with teenagers or college students, it’s the number one social network with the target demographics for most optometry practices in the United States – adults ages 30 to mid-60s.
It’s tempting to ignore Facebook because developing a content strategy may seem like a lot of extra effort in addition to seeing patients and managing a business. However, Facebook does offer opportunities for you as an optometry practice owner or manager to increase awareness of the practice, maintain rapport with existing patients and increase the number of online referrals to the practice.
Building an Audience
It’s free to create a Facebook business page for your practice. After you create your business account and post a few items on your timeline, the first step toward using Facebook to market your practice is to build your core audience.
If you’ve been in practice for some time, you have an existing patient base and it makes sense to ask your patients to connect with the practice on Facebook.
Invite them to follow your page by posting signage inside the practice.
Distribute an invitation to follow your page in an email campaign.
Use Facebook to invite local residents to follow your page – many of whom are likely to be your patients.
Consider running a "like us and enter to win!" contest to increase the number of patients as followers on your Facebook page.
The typical number of followers on Facebook pages for optometry practices that I’ve seen as a consultant working with optometry practices all over the United States is between 200 – 300 followers, but some practices have 1,000 or more Facebook followers. That is because they regularly promote the page with their patient base.
Post Engaging Content
Once you build a core set of followers, the next step is to post content with which your followers will engage – liking the post, commenting on the post or sharing the post. When we engage with content on Facebook, the platform will show us more of that page’s content in the future because we have taken some action with the content which proves we have interest in it. Remember, Facebook’s objective is to keep people coming back to it and spending time on the platform.
While it’s tempting to only post articles and videos related to eye care, optical products or coming right out and asking people to book appointments, you may find you don’t receive very many likes, shares or comments. People spend time on Facebook to connect with other people they like and tend to like personalized content – pictures and videos of you and your team, happy customers in eyewear purchased in your practice, local events, your own hobbies, etc. These posts will receive higher engagement from your followers.
It is common for people to ask their friends and family members on Facebook for referrals – and on Facebook, it’s called "asking for recommendations".
Facebook now gathers these recommendations and embeds them in the reviews section of your Facebook business page. When you are devoted to creating great experiences for your patients and customers inside the practice and maintaining rapport with your core audience on Facebook by posting engaging content, don’t be surprised to see the number of Facebook recommendations grow as people refer their friends and family members to your practice in response to a request for a recommendation on Facebook!
Ultimately, Facebook offers you an opportunity to grow "word of mouth" marketing for your optometry practice, which is time well-spent for you as an optometry practice owner or manager.
Maddie Langston brings extensive experience in marketing and sales administration and has developed strategies to drive sales for various industries. Most recently, Maddie developed marketing programs for a national network of independently owned auto repair service centers. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Liberty University. Maddie and her husband Jim have a teenage son and two beagles. She enjoys reading, watching documentaries and hiking in her spare time.