By Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
Your practice web site is your primary marketing tool—and your Facebook page can be a powerful adjunct to generate new patients and fill out your appointment book. Once you understand the features of each medium, you can make them work together.
Practice Facebook pages offer a way to get in front of your audience of existing patients who use Facebook between visits and to get noticed by their circle of friends. I don’t substitute my Facebook marketing for any other marketing; Facebook is a closed community with increasing but still limited effect on search engine optimization, so I look at my Facebook page as an “addendum” to my marketing efforts. It is a place where I am present because of the sheer number of my existing patients and their friends. I gain on average about 220 new “likes” a year on my Facebook page, but do not focus my Facebook marketing efforts solely at gaining “likes.” My previous practice “group” page had more than a hundred new “fans” per quarter before Facebook changed its functionality to no longer allow group pages. Practices must now set up pages as businesses rather than groups. Here is a summary of the key benefits of your practice web site and Facebook.
Practice Web Site: Greater Functionality, Design and Analytics Capabilities
Practice Web Site=Your Digital Office
Your website is the digital equivalent of your brick-and-mortar office, but in the virtual world. That means it should offer as similar an experience to walking through your office door as possible. It is a place to convert visitors into patients by giving them a taste of your patient experience; a place to grow a reputation within a search engine so people can easily find you when they search for the products or services you offer in your geographic vicinity. It’s also a home base where you can sell from, offer online forms, capture data for benchmarking, and much more.The longer your practice web site is listed in Google under your URL (web address), the more value you get toward rising to the top of searches in your area.
Right now, there are845 millionFacebookusers, so it’s somewhere you need to be. But since it is a closed network, new patients are much more likely to find you through a Google search that leads to your practice web site.
Greater Analytic Capabilities on Practice Web Site
You can register for Facebook Insights, Facebook’s branded analytics tool, which will give you an idea of the number of visits and a limited amount of other interactions that take place on your page, but you can use Google Analytics on your practice web page, which is a much more powerful analytics tool.
Limitations of Facebook
Facebook is a great way to build a following to your practice by digital word-of-mouth and to drive patients to your web site. But it also has some limitations to consider.
Limited Functionality on Facebook
Facebook pages only offer so much functionality. You can subscribe to apps like Demandforce and Zocdoc to have patients “schedule online” on your Facebook page, but these services are third-party web sites that you have to pay for. On your web site you can set up this functionality and own it.
Facebook Owns Whatever You Post
Anything you post on Facebook is no longer your intellectual property. Facebook has access forever to posted videos, photos and any other media you feature on your Facebook page.
Facebook Design Limitations
Facebook pages have the specific page layout Facebook wants; on your web site, you can feature a design that reflects your practice brand.
While some of your brand may bleed through on your Facebook page, it’s nothing compared to your web site where, for example, you could even display the same colors or design theme as patients see at your office.
Facebook: Viral Marketing, Time-Efficient
and Youth Appeal
FB: Campaigns that Require High-Volume Participation
A few years ago, I launched a campaign on Facebook in which I donated a free eye exam to someone in need for every one hundred people who “joined” our Facebook group. I videotaped the people who benefited from the program and used it to help market the practice on my YouTube channel. Click HERE to see what it looked like.
More recently, I ran a patient appreciation day which we promoted to our Facebook audience, subsequently posting photos of the event. Click HERE to see what we did.
Facebook a Low Time Commitment Marketing Tool
We add to our Facebook page regularly, and it isn’t very time consuming–no more than 15 minutes per day, at the most; I have fed my blog into the page, so when I blog it automatically updates my Facebook page; I have a great free feed from “allaboutvision.com” that feeds the page. I also just started feeding content from my Google+ page to Facebook via the “Chrome extended-share extension,” which helps take one post and easily proliferate it through numerous social networks, cutting the work of posting dramatically.
Facebook Gives Credibility with Younger Patients
Facebook enhances your reputation with your patients who use it regularly, typically in the 25-55 age range . The presence of so many younger (and some older) patients on Facebook means you can easily market special events like trunk shows and patient appreciation days that result in profits.
Be sure to stop by and connect on the ODs on Facebook group, the leading industry Facebook group where thought leaders and clinicians and optical industry folk from around the world engage in compelling conversations on practice management, the latest clinical news and get to know each other in a laid back, non-political discussion format.
Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO, is the owner of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care in Rockville, Md. He also is author of “Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0.” To contact him: AGlazier@youreyesite.com. Connect with Dr. Glazier on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alan.glazier.