ECPs Using Social Media for Practice Growth
Justin Bazan, OD
Park Slope Eye
Brooklyn, New York
BUILDING UP RAVE REVIEWS
I have been in practice for two years here at Park Slope Eye. My main platform for recruiting new patients is Yelp! It’s a community of online reviewers, and it gives people who are looking for eye care practitioners a way to see what other people have had to say about the ECPs they have seen.
I have been on Yelp! for two years, but it has only been a huge asset to me for about the last eight months. It took a while for reviews to start. Other Yelpers found us, and they are more prone to writing reviews, and it snowballed. We now get about two people a day exclusively through reviews on Yelp!
WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT…
Most doctors don’t realize that if they are in a community where Yelp! is embraced, they might already have been reviewed. If they go on Yelp!, they can lay claim to their business, which will give them an opportunity to review their profile, respond to reviews, and create special offers, get access to statistics, and message the reviewers.
We also learned that if you handle a negative review properly, it can bring in new patients. I know of at least one patient who came in specifically because they were impressed with how I handled a negative review on Yelp!
UPPING THE ANTE
Three months ago, Park Slope Eye became a paid sponsor on Yelp!, and that takes it to another level. Being a paid sponsor allows us to show up on a competitor’s profile when users search for ECPs.
For about a year, we were on Yelp! for free, which was helpful, because starting out, we had zero dollars in our marketing budget.
We are able to use Yelp! as a source for quality control. We can identify what we do well or not, based on the reviews. For example, when we noticed three reviewers complaining about contact lens orders not being timely, we were able to make the staff aware of it and improve our business.
The positive reviews are also a learning tool for us. If someone liked our customer service, we want to make sure to replicate it.
Yelp! also sends a newsletter with top Yelpers. We can reward them with a gift card for another local business. They come by our office to pick up the reward, which makes them aware of our business as well as the one honoring the gift card.
Facebook has been the biggest asset to create loyal advocates for Park Slope Eye. This gives us a way to stay in touch with patients beyond once a year for eye exams. We have an active Facebook community, and it creates a tighter bond.
We have changed how we use Twitter at Park Slope Eye. Initially, we used it to rebroadcast Facebook postings. Twitter was not active for us. Recently, I decided to build a selective community of people I follow. I cut out all of the other Twitter users we followed and started following a much smaller group because there was too much “noise” from following 5,000 people. Today, we are following mostly other ECPs. We find that it’s a good way for us, as professionals, to communicate.
When we followed so many people, I felt I was losing track of messages. It was out of control. We have a lot of followers on Twitter, but I was not following everybody in return.
Most of the time, we tweet on topics that are pertinent to our patient base.
TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG
I used to be a manager at two retail opticals, and I got fired for social networking. If you are a corporate optometrist, they want you loyal to the corporation, not to the doctor. I got fired for the refusing to stop the blog.
I created a Facebook group for other optometrists about getting into social networking, about four months ago. We have about 300 followers now.
BUDGET YOUR TIME WISELY
One of the biggest reasons ODs do not get into social networking is that some feel it takes too much time. It is possible to make time for it and you don’t have to do it alone. There are probably staffers in your office who know exactly what to do, and how to do it when it comes to Facebook and Twitter.
Some doctors tweet between patients. Facebook is something that can be scheduled to a particular time and day for posting. I have five staffers as administrators on my Facebook group.
Another concern ODs have is privacy. Some people feel they are being exposed on a business level.
FACING THE FACTS
The people who care about how to find a new ECP are not just searching for a store listing on Google anymore. They are searching social media sites. They identify the best by your reputation as it appears in the digital world.
Justin Bazan, OD, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Bazan has partnered with Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, on the Podcast Blog at peripheralvision.libsyn.com.