Marketing

ABCs of Using Social Media to Promote Back-to-School Exams

By Justin Bazan, OD
and Jessi Lee, OD

August 19, 2015
Part of ROB’s ongoing back-to-school coverage.

SYNOPSIS

Back-to-school time is an annual practice builder. New social media options help you target your eye health and vision messaging to a hyper-local family audience.

ACTION POINTS

SET A GOAL. Tally your school-age patients andseta bold growthgoal forthis year.

ADVERTISE AND PROMOTE LOCALLY.Advertise on social media like Facebook, and with local parenting groups, and by sponsoring local children’s sports teams.

PROMOTE EYEWEAR. Let parents know, and see photos of, the kids’ eyewear they can purchase from you.

 

Back-to-school means back-to-the-OD’s office, or it should. If it doesn’t, you’re falling short of grasping an enormous opportunity. This year,our practice is making a concerted push to bring more families into our practice as the school year begins. In addition to serving as an important practice-builder, back-to-school is a great time to educate parents in general about caring for their children’s eyes. The more kids who come in for routine eye exams, the more kids we can detect subtle findings in, and help out in the long run.

Set Back-to-School & Pediatric Eyecare Goals

In the last year, we saw around 200 patients under the age of 18, out of about 2,400 patients, in our family-oriented neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. This is double the amount of pediatric visits seen prior to Dr. Lee, who specializes in vision therapy and children’s eyecare, joining our staff. We think within the next year we could see this number increase by at least another 100 patients per year.

To implement the increase, we’ll continue to educate our current adult patients on the importance of bringing in their children for regular eye exams, and reach out to new community resources, such as parenting groups, schools and occupational therapists. We’re highlighting Dr. Lee’s residency in pediatrics and vision therapy.

Create Advertising Plan & Estimate Cost

We’ve just started advertising with an online neighborhood parents group, with our ads appearing in e-mails to the group’s 5,000 members. The members get daily e-mails with multiple commercial postings, including ours. They also send out one advertising e-mail a week dedicated to a single business. In addition to the regular e-mails, their web site is full of resources with parenting advice and reviews on local businesses. We found the parenting groups by hearing about them through our existing patient base. The cost of these ads runs about $1,000 for two months of advertising. The fee allows us to do one dedicated post (featuring just our business), and five commercial posts, spread out every other week.

The typical response to this advertising is good, but we think it’s going to be even better this year now that Dr. Lee has had an entire year to establish herself as our pediatric specialist. If we reach 100 people, we’ll have around 20 kids come in from that. We measure the effectiveness of the ad simply by asking patients what, if any, advertising brought them into the office.

We have not met with the groups in person, as the majority of their business is handled online, but are open to it should the opportunity come up.

Dr. Lee with a pediatric patient–and daughter of the practice’s optician, Yasmin. Dr. Lee and Dr. Bazan say it is important to stress the importance of not just the back-to-school exam, but yearly examinations and ongoing eyecare for children.

Use Facebook to Promote Back-to-School

We use Facebook’s Ad platform to advertise in all available spots on Facebook: Desktop Newsfeed, Mobile Newsfeed and Desktop Right Column. Facebook really has improved its ad platform over the years, and it is quite simple to set up an ad.

Simply log into Facebook and look for a tiny triangle icon at the extreme top right of your page. Click it and a drop-down menu will appear. Select “create ads,” and Facebook’s ad platform will open. The platform is free to use and the budget can be as much or as little as you want to spend. You are not charged for use of the platform, but are charged for each ad that is posted.

We post year-round on the importance of pediatric eyecare, but will ramp up our efforts over the last two weeks of August, as well as the first few weeks of September. We don’t want to waste the overall push during the mid-summer break while everyone is on vacation and not yet focused on school.

It’s also important to continue the effort for a bit longer after school has started, so the marketing doesn’t get lost within other back-to-school necessities. We like to rotate posts around different categories to keep things from getting too redundant. Examples of posts would be common symptoms of visual problems during school work, articles on visual development, the importance of infant vision exams, myopia control and the benefits of vision therapy.

For back-to-school, we always do a Facebook promo for 30 percent off a complete pair of children’s eyewear. The related post would say something like: “Hey Parents! Don’t forget to get the kiddies’ eye exams checked off of your back-to-school to do list. From now until August 31st we are also offering 30 percent off a complete pair of glasses. Schedule your appointment today!” I usually include a photo of a kid wearing glasses.

Don’t Forget to Also Advertise Your Children’s Eyewear

It’s super-important to let parents know that they can purchase eyewear for their children fromyour practice, in addition to receiving an exam. An example of something I might say in an ad: “Our kids’ eyewear has something for kids at every age. We carry six different lines that feature a wide range of colors and styles. You can also count on great durability! Stop in today for a personal fitting with our optician, Yasmin.”

Always include a photo of the children’s eyewear you sell. Lens features are super important, as well. Transitions are AR are key add-ons to discuss with parents and children in the exam room and in the optical.

To bring teen patients in, we highlight the trendiness of the eyewear we sell. Often, on Facebook, when I am talking about out trendier lines, I include a line like: “This was seen on the runways,” “This frame was seen on (insert favorite celeb)” or “Come in for a personal styling.” I also include fashion keywords like “in,” “new trend” and “Latest.” Mentioning the specific seasons helps, as well (ex. Fall 2015 collection). This way, the style-conscious teen knows they’re getting it before anyone else.

Sponsor Local Children’s Sports Teams

We sponsor local children’s sports teams. Our proudest moment was when one of our baseball teams took a team picture, and they all had our sunglasses on!

Justin Bazan, OD, owns Park Slope Eye. To contact him:dr.bazan@parkslopeeye.com.

Jessi Lee, OD, is an associate at Park Slope Eye. To contact her: dr.jessilee@parkslopeeye.com.working

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