By Dave Anderson, OD
Sept. 30, 2015
To be effective at social media, there are challenges: posting regularly and creating posts that engage your patients. At our practice, we create posts that show our patients who we are, and why they should visit us for their next exam.
A post on Dr. Anderson’s practice Facebook page that shows off the practice’s love for The Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Dr. Anderson says a key advantage of marketing through Facebook is it gives you the chance to show patients who you and your staff are. When patients feel a personal connection to the practice, they are more likely to want to return for another appointment.
Give Patients a Snapshot of Practice & Doctors’ Lives
In our office, we use Facebook to let patients know what our practice is all about. We occasionally will use it to advertise a sale, or an upcoming event, but most of the time we share what our office is doing, from staff outings to events that the doctors attend.
The best posts have always been those that are personal. The auto-posts that are popular have never had much success with our followers. Posting pictures of our staff attending a baseball game will always resonate more than information about sun protection. Any time patients can relate to our staff and doctors, our office becomes more welcoming. We have always tried to create a family atmosphere at the office, and Facebook has allowed this to become our public online persona, as well.
One of the best parts of social media is it’s good at making the doctors more relate-able. When I post a photo of Brutus the Buckeye, it gives any of our followers something that makes me more human, and gives us something to talk about during the next visit.
Editor’s note: a single photo of a sports mascot taken in a public place, like a game, is OK to post to your Facebook page, but you should consult with your attorney before using a team mascot’s image in any ongoing way for marketing purposes.
I include all sorts of different posts, from educational to entertaining and promotional. Almost every post is an entertaining post, but many include an educational message. An example would be a picture at Ohio Stadium that would include me wearing my sunglasses, and a mention about UV protection. I think messages can be educational and fun, and frankly, those tend to be the best posts. Over 80 percent of the posts on our page are entertaining, while educational and promotional posts comprise about 10 percent each.
Decide Who Gets to Post
I handle most of the posts, and with the ability to schedule posts, to make them timely and relevant, the time involved is pretty limited. At most, I spend no more than 1-2 hours a month. This is spread out throughout a few different days, but the posts happen throughout the month at times that have been scheduled.
All of the doctors, and a few of the staff members, have the ability to post on behalf of our office. The guidelines are basic. When someone posts, we ask that language and topics be the same that might be discussed with patients on the phone or in the office. That way, the posts follow the same basic guidelines that exist every day in our office. We don’t mind if the topic or style varies from one person to another when they post; just that the color and tone remain consistent.
A photo taken before a staff member was fully ready for the official staff photo session. Dr. Anderson’s practice shared the photo on Facebook. Dr. Anderson says that showing the fun spirit of your office can draw patients in. Going to the doctor is usually not thought of as fun, but patients may be more likely to schedule an appointment if the office environment is friendly and enjoyable.
Determine How Much (If Anything) You Want to Spend
There can be cost involved to promoting a practice on social media, but I have never chosen to spend any money on it. The purpose of the cost would be to have someone else post on my behalf, and handle the social media marketing. Another cost would be paying for posts to be promoted, as Facebook has a program in which you can pay to have your posts be shown more prominently on friends’ pages.
I could see paying for the promotion of a post if that post was promoting an event at our office, but general posts are much more relate-able if it they are personal and have the same “flavor” as conversations in our office.
Keep It Consistent
On social media always be consistent. The message may be slightly different in appearance, but the message needs to be consistent. This is true when speaking about health-related items, vision-related items or any sale or promotion.
For instance, if you have a strong message tying sunwear both to fashion, as well as to a strong eye health and vision enhancement message, that message should be seen in signage in your office, on Facebook and in any e-mail marketing messages sent to patients. Similarly, if you have a sale, it’s important to post identical information in all channels to avoid confusion, and to maximize excitement.
Keep It Unoffensive & Engaging
Any time a message is delivered in social media, not only does it perpetuate, but it has the chance to misrepresent you and your practice. One of the big keys with social media is to ensure that any comments made by you or your staff be of the same flavor as something that would be said in the exam room. If it is common to talk about your hunting, or football, then mentioning this on social media would still be representative of messages typical of your practice.
Think of presenting your practice on social media as you would presenting yourself in public anywhere else. If you would never arrive in a public place in your pajama pants, then photos of you in your pajama pants would not be appropriate. However, if your office culture is relaxed, and one where pajama pants would likely be seen, then the photo of you in pajama pants would not deviate from your culture. Use social media to enhance and perpetuate your message, and never deviate from your mission.
Time Posts Well to Maximize Impact
Pay close attention to when you post. Post on your Facebook page when people are looking. A post at 5 am or 11 pm is not as likely to be viewed as one posted at 7 pm or 8 pm, when many more people are looking online. Also, be sure you track your posts so you know when your posts have been effective. Like any kind of marketing, make sure you look at your ROI. In this case, your investment is time, but even that should always be measured.