Facebook has maintained its top spot amongst social media channels, particularly among people ages mid-thirties to early sixties in the United States. Facebook is designed to encourage people to connect with the people they know in their “real” lives – friends, classmates, neighbors, family – and these are the people we are most apt to ask for recommendations on service providers and healthcare.
This is a key reason it is important not to ignore Facebook in your optometry practice marketing plan. Many of your patients are on Facebook every day, and are members of closed, private groups where people ask for recommendations. The goal is to ensure your optometry practice is top of mind with your patients so that your practice is the one they recommend in these Facebook conversations.
The first step to increasing your online referrals through Facebook is offline – and that is by creating exceptional patient experiences in your practice. It is not enough to provide adequate service as this will not differentiate you from competitors or foster real loyalty with patients. Think about it – do you ever recommend an average restaurant to your friends? To quote my colleague, Dr. Steve Vargo, O.D., “if it’s not a remarkable experience, then it’s not worth remarking on.”
Next, promote your practice Facebook page with current patients. Post signage in the practice or on screens if you have them so they are aware your practice is on Facebook. Ask them to follow you! Consider running “follow us and enter to win!” contests for brief periods of time to encourage people to follow you. Encourage patients to participate in your Facebook marketing by creating space and opportunity for selfies in their new glasses or have a designated team member take pictures of patients who are thrilled with their new glasses (with their signed consent). Bring Facebook into the culture of your practice.
As your Facebook audience grows, you will need to pay closer attention to your content mix. It is important to post engaging content – seasonal, current events, a “day in the life” of your practice. You want to stay top of mind with your audience and build strong connections because you want them to be your enthusiastic brand ambassadors when they are asked for recommendations on Facebook, and good content is an important part of this endeavor.
When well-utilized, Facebook can be a “word of mouth” marketing engine for your practice on a hyper-local level. If you have not paid attention to your Facebook page, consider implementing these steps to encourage your patients to spread the good word about your optometry practice.