By Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD,
and Jessica Fulmer, OD, FAAO, FCOVD
May 8, 2019
Social media is where many, if not most, of your patients spend vast amounts of personal time. You can leverage posts to sites like Facebook and Instagram to market to them where they already are, rather than hoping they open promotional e-mails or postal mail messages.
Here’s how our practice, which has a vision therapy focus, and no optical retail business, uses social media to communicate with current, and prospective, patients.
Make Time & Assign
When we first opened the practice, we both would make an effort to post to social media. We would post on average 2-3 times a week during our downtime between seeing patients or after hours. As the practice became busier, this became a task that was somewhat neglected and went to the wayside.
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In an effort to keep our social media presence consistent we decided to delegate the majority of posting to our receptionist. We have found it’s a great use of her downtime between other reception tasks! She shows great initiative in finding new, hot optometric topics to post about.
We have looked into using tools such as Hootsuite for planned automatic posts. We ultimately decided that while this takes the burden off the person responsible for posting, we did not believe the cost outweighed the benefit.
Another tipping point was that a lot of our posts are very individualized for our patient base and community, so some of the pre-populated posts would not be a good fit for our social media flow. Our receptionist keeps track of how many times per week she posts.
For example, if we have an excess of patient testimonials to post she will make a plan in her calendar to space them out and post them at later dates.
The two sites we typically post on are Facebook and Instagram. We have them linked together, so any posts on Instagram are easily shared directly to our Facebook page.
Another great tip is to incorporate links to your web site within these posts to draw more traffic to your practice web site. We sometimes post a “teaser” on social media and include a link to our web site for the full article/story. Within our web site we have a blog section for these types of posts.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to get signed HIPAA marketing authorization forms from all patients featured in your social media posts.
Click HERE, or the image below, to view our practice Facebook page:
Click HERE, or the image below, to see our practice Instagram page:
Determine Right Amount of Time Per Week to Post
We currently post an average of 2-3 times per week. This seems to be the happy medium amount. We are often told from a marketing standpoint that we should be posting every day, but we have found that doing this often leads to less “likes” and “shares” per post. Our method is to make the posts we create fun, interactive, informational and worthwhile instead of just posting to post.
Patient Testimonials Work Best
Overall, our most successful social media posts are our vision therapy testimonials. Whenever our patients finish their course of in-office vision therapy we have them fill out a testimonial explaining how vision therapy helped improve their symptoms.
We then take a picture with them to post along with the testimonial on our social media and practice web site. These types of posts always seem to engage our social media audience the most. I think it creates a sense of community between our followers and patients. We deem a post “successful” based on how many likes and shares it gets.
Facebook, Instagram and Google have great analytics tools that track how well your listing/posts are doing. These resources are free and give you a ton of information about your social media presence.
Let Patients Get to Know You Personally
We strongly believe in connecting with our patients on a personal level. Because we are seeing our vision therapy patients typically on a twice per week basis, we spend a significant amount of time getting to know our patients.
In turn, we want our patients to feel like they get to know us! We have posted personal photos/stories such as Dr. Zilnicki’s wedding and the birth of her daughter. We also include photos of ourselves whenever we travel for conferences and continuing education.
However, there is a fine line between being open and maintaining that professional level of interaction. We try not to be “friends” with our patients on our private Facebook and Instagram pages.
Look for Parents’ Groups on Social Media
We get a lot of recommendations on parent groups, which then brings them to our social media pages and practice web site.
When we run Facebook Ads (i.e. back-to-school exams, signs and symptoms of a visual issues in your child) we target the surrounding 25 miles and parents who are in the 20-40 age group.
A lot of our practice is referral-based, so our ads are designed to educate this parent demographic on things to look for in their kids, remind them of the importance of comprehensive eyecare and know that we are present in the community.
Paid Ads on Social Media Deliver ROI
One feature of Facebook posting that we have found to be very cost effective are its paid-post options. For as low as $5-$10 you can customize a post that will be seen beyond just your own page followers.
It is extremely customizable from when it gets posted to who sees the post. You can control the age, gender and location range of the newsfeeds the post will be shown on.
You can also include keywords that will trigger the post. The more money you spend, the greater the amount of people who will see it. This is much less expensive than other online advertising, and has increased our page follows.
Ask: “How Did You Hear About Us?”
Our office introductory paperwork asks: “How did you hear about us?” A significant amount of non-referred patients say it’s from finding our practice web site on Google, so it is apparent that all of our social media postings and ratings have helped improve our search engine optimization (SEO).
A lot of companies tout that you should pay for their services to increase your SEO, but we have found that working hard on social media yourself, posting and getting reviews, is key to helping that process happen organically.
We like to make the point that, because our services are more specialized, a majority of our patients are referred by another physician for therapy services and are not necessarily finding us cold via our social media. But once they come to our social media pages they get a good sense about what services we provide and the type of care they will receive.
Post E-Newsletters on Social Media
Last year we implanted a monthly newsletter. We could not decide on a creative name on our own, so posted a contest on our social media with an Amazon gift card as a prize. The winning name was the “Viewsletter.”
Every month we select an educational topic as a theme for the newsletter. Topics have ranged from beneficial nutrition for the eyes, proper screen time, UV light protection and brain-injury awareness.
We then post a link on our social media to our practice web site where the Viewsletter is posted. It is also a great platform for upcoming events, news in the office or anything else we would like to share. We have found this has greatly increased traffic to our web site.
Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, and Jessica Fulmer, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, are co-owners of Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy in Riverhead, NY.
To contact Dr. Zilnicki: DrZilnicki@twinforksoptometry.com.
To contact Dr. Fulmer: DrFulmer@twinforksoptometry.com