Top 10 Tips for Social Media

Leveraging social media can help independent practice owners remain independent in the face of competition.

Social media plays an important role in reaching new and existing patients. For independent practice owners, being active on social media can expand your digital footprint and ensure that you’re communicating a message that’s authentic to you and your practice. If you struggle to stay on top of your social media channels, or need some inspiration to keep up with your posts, read on to get some of the best social media tips from ECPs in the field.

1.Start A Podcast
We launched our podcast, “Vision is More than 20/20,” at the end of 2019. We have a weekly podcast that our current patients listen to that also alerts prospective patients to our services and helps us make professional connections. We plan/record/post an episode each week. Prepping the episode includes selecting a topic idea, scheduling a guest if needed, and creating an outline. We record the episodes over Zoom and send any guests the associated meeting link and show notes prior to the episode. Since we own a vision therapy practice, the beginning of the podcast focused heavily on what vision therapy is and the specialties within it. Since then we have run several series, including a pediatrics series, sports vision series, and currently an ocular health series. – Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, and Jessica Licausi, OD, FAAO, FCOVD; Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy 

2. Utilize Social Media Organizations
IDOC Social Media has improved our ability to reach patients on social media and make an impact with our messaging. At first, I didn’t feel the need for help with social media marketing since we already had a strong social media following that was growing steadily. The reality, however, was that it was becoming burdensome. I also wanted us to post on a regular schedule, rather than having posting dependent on how much time I could spare on any given week. Our posts needed to be more consistent, and we needed to feature our products more often. I especially wanted to feature more contact lens products. IDOC Social Media posts three times a week to Facebook and Instagram. The service allows you to choose to pre-approve every post or give IDOC’s marketing specialists the freedom to design and post as they see fit. – Ansel T. Johnson, OD; Vision Salon Eye Care Associates

3. Know Your Practice Identity
Effective marketing through social media requires fully understanding your practice’s identity. Our mission is to educate our patients so that they value their eyes, turning the obligation of a new prescription into a new way to be well. The posts you create on social media will differ depending on the aspects of your practice and the message you are trying to communicate. Some types of posts that we share with our current and prospective patients are products, community, eye health, and inspiration. – Danielle Richardson, OD; Zak

4. Connect with Friends on Facebook
Everyone is on Facebook, so use that to your advantage and connect with your community to help promote your office through tagging. Posting that picture of a patient with great new frames we just mentioned? Tag them. Celebrating a staff member milestone or achievement? Snap a picture and tag them! By sharing your posts with other people’s timelines, your post suddenly breaks through the limits of your own practice page. By tagging, your post could very well be seen by all friends of those tagged—and even friends of friends! Want to ramp that up? A little creativity and strategic tagging go a long way to generating lots more exposure. Ask patients to post selfies of their new glasses while tagging the practice, and make sure to make the post public. The idea is to use your patients to market for you. – Zvi Pardes, Head of Marketing, EyeCarePro

5. Utilize Analytics
You can use a site like Sprout Social to measure the number of patients who come to you through social media sites such as Instagram. You also can use Google Analytics to analyze from your web site how many clicks are from your social media accounts, including Instagram. In addition, you can have a phone number for your office that is posted only on your social media accounts to determine the number of calls that are driven from your social media. And when patients come in, have a place on your patient intake form where they can check “social media” for how they heard from you. You could also have a place for them to check off, or tell you, which social media site they found you on. – Arian Fartash, OD

6. Take Pictures of Your Doctors and Staff
I find that the posts that receive the most overall involvement by current patients are those that involve the doctor or staff. If you’ve been successful in winning them over during their eye exam, they feel connected by social media. In my practice, when I include photos of myself, I try to showcase a new frame or capture my “fun” side, whether it be holiday or sports team wear. I’m not convinced these types of posts are best for bringing in new patients to your practice, but they are successful in engaging already-existing patients and retaining their loyalty. Patients like to connect with you, to share your interests, and to know you have a life outside of optometry. – Courtney Dryer, OD, 4 Eyes Optometry

7. Keep Videos Informative
Everyone loves to learn about the world around them, especially tricks or “hacks” to make everyday tasks easier. By teaching your audience something interesting that they didn’t already know, you not only create content that is highly shareable, but you establish your practice as a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert. In addition to placement of videos in prominent locations on practice web sites, practices with videos that are primed to go viral can and do share the videos on social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube etc.), by e-mail, blogs and newsletters. – Nancy Rausman, EyeCarePro

8. Link Social Media Accounts with Other Digital Accounts
It’s easy these days to link your social media accounts with other digital media channels. For example, you could include social media icons in your e-mails that link to your social media accounts or share buttons so people can share your e-mail messages with their friends or followers via their social networking sites. Vice versa, you could include links in your social media updates that direct people to sign up for e-mail or text updates. Give patients the choice of how they would like to stay connected with your practice. – Steve Vargo, OD, MBA, iMobile Communications

9. Respond to Online Feedback
Should you have a negative review or social post online, respond in a way that mitigates the problem and seeks a resolution. For example, “Please contact our practice administrator so that we can further address your concerns.” Or, “We regret that your needs were not met and hope to have another opportunity to meet or exceed your expectations.” This approach is not only to make amends with the reviewer but also to show the public that you truly care about delivering great customer service. Conversely, for positive feedback, it is important to thank the patient and make them feel special. If the post is from a new patient, personalize your comment with something such as, “It is always a pleasure seeing you in the practice.” Additionally, be sure to re-post positive reviews on your social media channels and website, as applicable. – Carol Logan, OD, Logan Eye Care

10. Target Posts to Millennials and Generation Z
Some of my practice’s social media posts are created specifically with Millennials in mind, while others are targeted toward attracting Gen Z’ers. For Millennials, I emphasize frame lines I brought into my practice from which a percentage of profits goes toward social causes that we support locally. I also utilize discounted promotional campaigns. Research shows Millennials are 50 percent more likely to purchase from a practice that supports a cause. And two-thirds of Millennials report they will switch brands if they are offered a discount of 30 percent or more. For Gen Z’ers, intermixed between promotional marketing, I include authentic, “behind the scenes” type of posts that show me and my staff at work. I also highlight frame lines we brought into our optical that are made of environmentally sustainable materials. A large majority (77 percent) of Gen Z’ers prefer social media ads that show real people in real situations over idealistic posts, and 54 percent of Millennials report that they look for products that are environmentally sustainable. – Solomon Gould, MBA

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