By Josiah Young, OD, MS
April 29, 2015
Creating engaging social media posts can mean the difference between patients who keep your practice in mind as a fixture in their lives and patients who may not remember you the next time they need an exam.
Focus on Information Sharing, Not Overt Promotion
Social media is about sharing information. It’s not always about sharing original content. We follow lots of local businesses, media outlets, celebrities, sports figures and inspirational pages. One of our staff members will find interesting posts that come through on our own Facebook news feed to use for sharing.
A post on Dr. Young’s Facebook page about digital eye fatigue syndrome that uses an entertaining image to convey an educational message.
The guidelines we use are that it has to be silly, funny or local (think cute puppies in a basket). It cannot contain any material that would offend any other person (ask yourself whether your grandmother could read it). And bonus points if it is eye- or vision care-related (think cute puppies in a basket with sunglasses on). If you want even more engagement, find a polarizing figure or current event and ask for comments about it, but be mindful to keep the subject light. We often develop our own content, but sometimes our posts simply ask our followers how they feel about a current event, like who they think is going to win the Super Bowl.
The biggest mistake is to assume that the content you are writing about your practice, or eyecare in general, is interesting to the reader. In addition to my own practice’s social media presence, I manage social media accounts for the ECP Network, a practice development organization.
In reviewing many practice social media accounts, I find three common mistakes about how ODs post to Facebook: 1. Not frequent enough, 2. Self-promotional only, and 3. Mostly text. This is a recipe for a stagnant and underwhelming response from your followers.
To maximize follower engagement, my practice maintains a Facebook page featuring 80 percent fun stuff, 10 percent eyecare educational information and 10 percent practice marketing. That stems from a period of learning what posts get the most engagement. When people come to expect fun and engaging posts from your practice on their social media pages, they will be more likely to engage the 10 percent of the time that you promote a sale or trunk show.
There’s one exception to the 80 percent fun rule. If you have an upcoming event or promotion, you should lay out a plan to promote these things on social media well in advance. For a one-day event, you almost can’t post enough. It might look redundant on your own page, but in other people’s Facebook timelines, repetition is about the only thing that will get someone to remember your event. The week before your event, the content should approach 50 percent fun and 50 percent marketing your event. Ten percent is just too infrequent to get a response where physical attendance or participation is needed. The bottom line: if you want to recruit social media followers to come to your practice for an event, promote promote promote!
A recent post on Dr. Young’s practice Facebook page. Dr. Young says humorous posts often are more effective at drawing attention than educational ones.
Reference Current Local Events
On Facebook, the most engaging posts are the ones that hit on current local events. Since our fan base is overwhelmingly around the Cincinnati metro area, we have found that current local news topics, or local happenings, are good to use for re-posting or to ask questions. The engagement and sharing go up when you actually request that your followers click, like or share.
A post about a local business opening near Dr. Young’s practice. Dr. Young says posts that comment on, or share news about, local happenings, draw attention from patients.
Entertaining Photos Work Best
Like the information you present, silly and funny photos draw more attention and clicks than those focused on eye health, patient education or products. In order to capture follower attention for five seconds, it has to stand out. As much as it pains me to say it, the most engaging content is non-educational.
A post on Dr. Young’s Facebook page acknowledging the birthday of Cincinnati Reds baseball player Pete Rose. Dr. Young notes how much his patients like posts about entertainment, including sports figures.
Ask for Response & Interaction
The posts that ask the viewer to do something will often have the most engagement. If you ask people to like or share something–or test out their eyes on an optical illusion–many times they will respond.
An interactive post on Dr. Young’s Facebook page, that asks Facebook friends to engage with the photo and share what they see. Dr. Young points out that posts that ask patients a question are often more engaging than those that do not.