By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
For social media to be effective, consistent, regular engagement with patients is necessary. This requires creating a schedule of marketing tasks that must be performed without fail. Certain activities, such as updating Facebook and Twitter, are best done each morning. Longer updates like blog posts and e-mail newsletters should be prepared and posted once every week or two. Large social media campaigns, such as contests or events, may only happen a few times a year but must be planned well in advance. Additionally, monitoring the internet for any positive or negative discussion or online reviews must happen continuously.
Social Media Delegation
2.Decide how social media fits into office marketing.
3.Match social media tasks to staff member interest and abilities.
4.Establish clear and distinct expectations for staff.
5.Allow staff to gain comfort and skill with personal accounts.
6.Provide times and resources for staff to educate themselves.
7.Dedicate time for social media discussions at weekly staff meetings.
8.Automate social media tasks cautiously.
9.Phase in new channels and strategies slowly.
10.Review for examples of successes or failures.
• Control: If your office is taking responsibility for the social media management, then you and your staff have complete control over the content and timing of communications. Because social media frequently happens in “real time,” you will not have to wait for a third party to respond to any issues that may arise.
• Flexibility: You know your office calendar better than anyone, so if you know that it will be busy, or slow, or that there is a special event planned, you can adjust the time spent on social media accordingly. This is especially true for posts that are not time-sensitive.
• Cost Savings: By keeping social media in-house, costs are limited to staff time, which is less than either doctor time or outside specialist fees.
With the initial social media in place, prioritization of social media time should be determined. Decisions must be made regarding whether social media is to be used for strengthening relationships with current patients, broadcasting messages to potential patients, or developing relationships with other organizations and businesses in the community. Research must be done to find out what social media platforms are used in the area and are most likely to generate these outcomes. A schedule of frequency, length and content of social media updates must be created.
When delegating social media marketing, keep these points in mind:
• Time: Crafting social media campaigns, monitoring channels for important information and creating content all take time. Plan on budgeting two to three staff hours per week specifically for social media if you do it in-house. Add another two hours per week if you plan to have a blog.
• Learning curve: The social media landscape is always changing and there are always better ways to use the same tools. Communicate to staff why it is important for them to contribute effort towards the new social media marketing campaign, the long-term goal for the campaign, how success will be measured, and exactly which staffers are responsible for which tasks, and when those tasks are to be completed each week or month.
• Discipline: When it gets busy at the office, social media can be the first item to be deferred. This reduces the effectiveness of the message. It is imperative to build flexible time into the schedule to ensure that it doesn’t get forgotten.
Social media marketing is effective, yet time consuming. Delegating clearly-defined tasks to a well-trained staff enables optometrists to make the most of this new medium without reducing time spent serving patients.
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