Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
ACTIVE BLOG BEATS STATIC WEBSITE
I bought this practice in 2006, and a year later we started our blog. We received a lot of positive attention and feedback from patients. I specialize in children’s vision and vision therapy. If someone wants to find an optometrist for their child by searching online, finding a blog with a lot of eyecare content is great–as opposed to having a static Website that only gives your hours and location.
FOR WHOM THE BLOG TOLLS
I write the blog, and it’s separate from our Website. I use it to discuss vision issues, news and events that happen in the practice. We do a spotlight on patients about once a month. It’s usually about people who are doing something interesting in the community, or who are running a local business–someone who could benefit from additional exposure. In turn, they might put me on their Facebook page, or send people to my blog, and my blog gets interesting content.
The blog has been instrumental in getting new patients particularly for people seeking children’s vision and vision therapy services. Other optometrists were surprised to see how often my name and my blog came up when doing their own online searches.
MAKING COMMUNITY CONTACT
I startd by using Facebook for the business, butnow it is Twitter that I use primarily. That’s my primary social media for the office.
I use Twitter to make contact with patients and potential patients. We publicize what we are doing with tweets, and even held some contests using Twitter here in Tampa.
MEETING UP AT A TWEET UP
Llast year we hosted a”tweet up” through Twitter. We told our Twitter followers about an event which would be held at my office, basically, it was an open house event. We had wine tasting, raffle prizes, andsocializing, in conjunction with a nearby restaurant who hosted dinner there. We had about 45 people. It gave the restaurant exposure, too.
FROM VIRTUAL TO REAL
We don’t think of these contacts as just online relationships, but as real relationships with people we communicate with online. We have turned the virtual into a reality by having events and getting people in the door.
Immediately after the tweet up, there were a handful of people who came to the event whoscheduledappointments and others who came to the event and finally made appointments wtih us later.
GAINING PERIPHERAL BENEFITS
Facebook and Twitter might not get us as many new patients as the blog, but we do get them. They do help us build relationships and spread word-of-mouth through existing patients.
Our Facebook friends and Twitter followers have projects and businesses of their own. It’s a very reciprocal relationship. We support each other.
We originated and celebrated “Foursquare Day” here in Tampa. Right before and after it happened, there was some buzz about it, because it was on the news. It was a social networking idea spread by social media concepts, but involving real businesses. Even people who are not “plugged in” were aware of it.
Someone using Foursquare on their smart phone might be in the area, and get a notification that a local business, us, participates in Foursquare and is nearby.
Some cities are really into Yelp! I tried using it, but it’s not very big here in Tampa. If there’s an isolated review on Yelp!, if fades away over time. I really tried using it, but it was my frustration with Yelp! that led me to using Foursquare and participating in Foursquare Day. Foursquare wasn’t available here in Tampa until it was “unlocked” in November 2009. Every doctor needs to use the tools that benefit him.
START OUT SELECTIVELY
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the new online social media services available. You might feel that you think, read and process everything. The reality is, no one should do them all, it’s too much.Choose a few social media opportunities to get started, and don’t worry about all the content people post.
While 90 percent of what is on the Internet might be irrelevant, the 10 percent you concentrate on is material you cannot get anywhere else.
Read what you’re interested in–and forget the rest.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Bonilla-Worford has partnered with Justin Bazan, OD, on the Podcast Blog at peripheralvision.libsyn.com.