By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Yesterday one of my staff members asked me, “Does the office still have a MySpace page?” The answer is no. About five years ago, I created a MySpace account to interact with patients. But as the social media ecosystem has grown, we’ve shifted to platforms like Facebook and Foursquare. When a new social media platform appears, I want to take advantage of it. I enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology, before any of my local competitors. As Alan Glazier, OD, aptly described in his book “Searchial Marketing,” practices that are not gaining enough new patients are dying–and online marketing is a critical piece in getting new patients.
However, the vast majority of eyecare professionals are not doing anything to make themselves more competitive online. They are simply ignoring the online options, and letting other practices get ahead of them. Many optometrists think they have online marketing covered with their web site. Approximately 80 percent of practices have web sites now. This means that the average optometrist has finally caught up to the late 1990s–way before Facebook.
But not everyone is letting new opportunities slip away. There are always opportunities out there, if you look. I have recently been very excited about Google+, as I have written here, and I think it has huge potential for business. And I am not alone. During the first few days of Google+, I met Keely Rowe, optician and marketing specialist at Midwest City Vision Source. She was doing the same thing I was: trying to learn how Google+ works so that she could promote her practice.
When I asked Keely what she thought about Google+, she said, “I am very excited about using Google+ at Midwest City Vision Source.” Like me, she is planning for the upcoming business pages, not simply waiting. She is researching: “I can get an idea of how we will be using Google+ based on the features available on my personal page.”
Based on her experience, Keely has some great ideas about how to use Google+ effectively. “I plan to actively use the ‘Hangout’ feature,” she said. “I would like to see Q&A sessions with doctors, techs and even virtual trunk shows to show off new frames.”
More fundamental than Google+, Keely is well versed in social media and this is not an accident. Her practice invests in things that work. “Our doctors use the best technology in their practice,” she said. “This isn’t so that they can say they have the latest and greatest gadget, but instead to be able to offer the best care for our patients. We hold social media in the same light. We want to meet with the people in our community where they are, which in many cases is online, and provide them the best possible experience even before (or after) they have visited our office.”
Keely is doing a great job, and I’m certain that Midwest City Vision Source is benefitting. That practice is not dying. It is growing and at the same time leading the way. And its doctors, staff and patients all benefit.
Is your practice dying? What are you doing online to prevent it? What are your latest strategies for helping to keep your practice relevant with your online presence?
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD,of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Tampa, Fla., is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry. He is a member of the American Optometric Association, and is currently immediate past president of the Hillsborough Society of Optometry, as well as chair of the Children’s Vision Committee of the Florida Optometric Association. To contact him: Doc@BrightEyesTampa.com.