ECPs Using Social Media for Practice Growth
TEST THE WATERS
I began using social media in 2007. To do it comfortably, I started learning how people were searching for doctors and small businesses. I had been listening to practice managers who said that The Yellow Pages didn’t really work anymore. I had been given good advice by practice managers in the past, and I was anxious to eliminate the $3,000 a month I was spending on Yellow Pages ads.
BLOG YOUR WAY IN
Social media allows me to do my own marketing and public relations. I learned about search engine optimization. This led me to Facebook, Twitter, to video, and blogging. The blog is the center of my social media campaign. Because of it, I am now getting calls from radio talk shows and magazines.
It took me a while to grasp the value of blogging and getting it right. I had done blogging before, but my current blog is only a year old. I am also blogging for SightNation and CooperVision.
DEPLOY DUAL APPROACHES
There are two broad strategies optometrists can take. One is “grassroots,” using Facebook and Twitter. These social media will drive people to your practice. The other is to use a blog as the center of your efforts. Using social media can help your name come up on searches.
The time constraints to use either approach can be daunting, but I have learned to delegate the grassroots stuff to my staff.
AMPLIFY EXPOSURE, REDUCE COSTS
Blogging has led to my getting greater exposure. I have been contacted by other optometrists to work as a social media consultant. I was invited to lecture on the topic. I also have a COPE-approved continuing-education course that tackles social media for optometrists.
I have reduced my marketing to almost zero with social media. I don’t really pay for advertising at all anymore. It’s been a huge moneysaver, and a motivator to get into it more deeply.
PICK AND CHOOSE
Nobody should have to use every social media tool that is out there. You have to go to where the audience is. I use Yelp!, but I don’t pay for it. For Yelp! reviews to be effective, the reviewer has to be someone who reviews all the time, or it fades away.
Yelp! is huge though. It’s not necessarily social media, but it’s the Google of that Internet area of local reviewing.
Alan Glazier, OD can be reached at email@example.com. His blog can be found at eyeinfo.wordpress.com.