6 Tips for Using Social Media to Grow Your Business
With so many people using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites, social media has emerged as a powerful channel for eye care practitioners to connect with their existing patients and attract new ones.
Here are six tips for using social media to grow your business.
About 2/3 of American adults use social media--90% of millennials and 35% of people 65 or over. -Pew Research. So here’s the first tip: Show up. The opportunity is just too good to miss. Social media gives your patients the chance to get to know you and develop a real connection with you. If they trust and value you, they’ll stick with you. They’ll post good things about you on social networks, and they’ll share your content. Find out where your patients are spending their time—Facebook, Twitter, etc. That’s where you need to be too. Engage your patients with useful and interesting information. Offer discounts, perks, and contests. Start a conversation. Join an existing one. Just show up.
Talk about what you know and what relates to your practice and patient needs—eye care tips, innovations in diagnostic techniques, advances in contact lens technology, etc. Be authentic. Get personal. Tell real stories. If someone on your staff has just returned from a trip to Africa as part of a volunteer team of medical providers, this could be of genuine interest to your patients. Include photos! Ask patients to share their stories and opinions. Remember—social media at its best is an online conversation.
Create a Plan
The more you post, the more you’ll get a feel for what people like. That said, you don’t need to be a part of every social network. It’s better to have a strong presence on a few networks than a sparse presence on several. Once you’ve determined where your patients spend their time, put your time and energy there. Develop a calendar to schedule content topics and events (special discounts around theme-related content during the holidays, for example). Be sure to include periodic assessments of what’s working and what isn’t (i.e. what posts are getting the most comments, shares, and “Likes”). Use what you learn to plan where to put your efforts next go-around.
You may have people on your team who can post regularly to the social media outlets you choose and who can monitor what’s working, what’s not, and decide what to do next. Outsourcing is another possibility. No matter what you do, be sure to keep an open line of communication with the people who handle your social media and schedule periodic check-ins with them. If you do outsource, give the company you partner with plenty of information so they are clear on what kind of practice you have, your goals, your clients, and your personal insights. One advantage in outsourcing is that companies who specialize in these services makes it a point to stay ahead of changing tides in social media.
Know What People Are Saying
Negative patient experiences shared on social networks can be very damaging to your practice. This is one of the reasons it’s so important for you to stay on top of online reviews. When someone posts a negative comment about you, it’s important that you respond ASAP. Your quick reply demonstrates your accessibility, your concern, and your genuine desire to make good. This can definitely work in your favor. Having the time to monitor your online presence may be challenging for you and your staff, which is another reason why outsourcing can be beneficial. And btw—when you do get those nice reviews, be sure to “like” and share some of them!
Go Social, Be Mobile
Whatever you do, remember that mobile devices play an increasingly important part in peoples’ lives (particularly millennials). Do you even know anyone who doesn’t have a mobile device? Take advantage of apps like Facebook and Instagram, where people are posting and checking multiple times a day. Consider offering product or service deals, promo codes with direct links to purchase—and remember that all that good stuff needs to be optimized for mobile devices so that those who are interested in purchasing from you don’t get bogged down with (and turned off by) downloading issues or transactions that don’t work properly. If you’ve got their attention, better make sure you give them a nice, smooth ride. So they keep coming back.