How ODs can capitalize on social media in their practices

April 1, 2017
Giovanni Castelli

Giovanni Castelli is the content specialist for Optometry Times. He is a 2014 graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in Communications and a focus on public relations. He has a Morkie named Chewie and is a lover of pizza, Star Wars, and all

Consumers have a voice greater than ever before with social media and the ability to like, comment, and react quicker than ever, says Kevin Wilhelm and Trudi Charest from Marketing4ECPs at Vision Expo East.

New York-Consumers have a voice greater than ever before with social media and the ability to like, comment, and react quicker than ever, says Kevin Wilhelm and Trudi Charest from Marketing4ECPs at Vision Expo East.

“Social is important because right now your customers are online, on your social media page,” says Wilhelm. “Some 93 percent of customers expect companies to have a presence on social channels.”

People stay connected to social media for a variety of reasons, including information, contact, and for fun. When someone follows you on social, he is essentially giving you the OK for you to market to him.

Related: Using social media to improve patient care and outcomes

Social media expectations

“About 50 percent of businesses in the U.S. do not have a website,” says Wilhelm. “Patients have online expectations of you and your practice.”

Patients expect your practice to have:

• Active website

• Facebook

• Twitter

• Google+

• Yelp

Wilhelm says practices need to keep the conversation going on social media-not just post and forget about it.

“If you are doing all the talking and patients decide to talk back, keep the dialogue going,” he says. “Social media is a two-way conversation.”

Related: Managing your employees’ social media use

Social media trends

There are many new social media trends that Wilhelm and Charest identify. If you are not already doing so, you should adapt to the new trends to maximize your social media presence.

New social trends include:

• Social listening

• Video and image interactions

• Social advertising

• Social marketing

• Mobile viewing

• Online contests and promotions

• Multi social channels

• Responding to posts

Wilhelm says using video in posts on Facebook nets your post 135 percent more organic reach than text alone. Facebook users watched eight billion videos on Facebook in 2016, says Wilhelm.

The average Facebook user is 31 years old, says Wilhelm, and the fastest growing segment is women over the age of 35.

“Snapchat is the youngest crowd in social-most of its users are under the age of 25,” says Wilhelm.

Charest says that Google+ and Pinterest are must haves for businesses. They are indexed by Google and will show up in search results when people are using various search engines.

“Google+ and Pinterest helps SEO optimization for your website,” she says. “Follow people in your industry and geographical area to help gain followers on these sites.”

Instagram is all visual and is great for the eyecare industry, Charest says.

“Think about what you are posting and put effort into filters to help differentiate yourself from others,” she says. “People will then like it, comment on it, and share it.”

Charest also says to follow other companies to help get new ideas you can apply to your social posts.

 

Opportunities plenty when social is in play

“Social media is about the people,” says Wilhelm. “Contact one of your followers. Give him something for following you. Watch what happens next.”

Wilhelm says that person will then more than likely post about the experience and that post will be shared with his friends.

Social media is an opportunity to:

• Shape conversations

• Connect to loyal customers

• Empower your employees

• Delight customers

• Offer knowledge and education

• Answer inquiries and concern

Related: Mastering social media marketing for your practice

Having a social media plan is key

“You must have plan for social,” says Charest. “Consumers these days expect you to be on multiple platforms.”

Charest says you can do good job on social by spending as little as 30 minutes per day on social media. She says that linking social pages together can make sharing on social media easier.

Charest says social media is trial and error at times, so experimenting on all platforms to see what works is the key to success.

She says to utilize great and fun images with your posts. With Facebook, two to three sentences max per post-anything else is overkill.

Charest also says having your contact information on your social pages is crucial to your followers.

“Finding you is one of the biggest things for consumers,” says Charest. “Make sure to list all locations on Facebook to make it easier for them to find you offline.”

If you are unsure where to start, or are in need of ideas to help boost your social presence, Charest says to follow people within the industry for ideas you can employ on your social channels.

Hashtags are also important when you post. Charest says to search a hashtag such as “optometry” and follow those who share the same interests.

Related: HIPAA in the age of social media

Tips for sharing on social media

“Don’t over share, don’t complain, don’t sell all the time, and don’t be in a hurry,” says Charest. “Make things personal, engaging, and entertaining.”

Charest identifies the following tips to follow:

• Make sure all social icons are on your website

• Do things that make people want to connect with you

• Building an online database is crucial

“Have some fun with it,” says Charest. “Sometimes people forget what social media is all about.”

Read more from Vision Expo in New York, NY here

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