One mistake ophthalmologists typically make with Facebook is to presume their practice websites and Facebook pages should contain similar information. Another misperception is that Facebook is a platform for the constant promotion of their specials, procedures, or new technologies in eye care.
Use of social media is exploding: Facebook has more than 1.25 billion active users, with 210 million in the United States and Canada alone. Importantly, among households with incomes greater than $75,000 per year--the target market for elective eye surgery--78% are active daily.
Many large companies have been able to capitalize on this trend. Starbucks, Levi’s, and Target all parlayed their Facebook presence into greater market awareness, leading to improved branding and higher revenue. Yet, many eye-care practices have jumped into the Facebook game only to find that gaining momentum can be difficult.
One mistake ophthalmologists typically make with Facebook is to presume their practice websites and Facebook pages should contain similar information.
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Another misperception is that Facebook is a platform for the constant promotion of their specials, procedures, or new technologies in eye care.
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These approaches are doomed to failure and a waste of resources, and they explain why many practices have had limited or no success with Facebook. Keep in mind that the first word in social media is “social.” Successful strategies keep things social by building engagement and connecting patients to “social” content.
But let’s face it, eye-care content can be pretty dry. Most consumers do not consider it a “must-read” unless they have an eye issue that needs immediate attention, have recently been diagnosed with an eye problem, or are considering eye-care treatment. This type of educational information should be made readily available on the practice website for review by potential patients, but should not be the focus of Facebook posts.
Consumers are extremely unlikely to visit a Facebook page to learn about amblyopia, pink eye, or even LASIK for that matter.
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However, they will connect with your practice on Facebook if you have something interesting to share with them on a regular basis. And, if you are really good at keeping things interesting, followers will share the information with their followers.
This exponential expansion of your reach and branding is the ultimate goal of social media. Your reach of 300 followers who share with their 300 followers now becomes 90,000 people who are exposed to your Facebook pages. This expansion can only be achieved through a socially focused strategy.
Facebook executives say that posts should be 80% for engagement and 20% related to a product or service. In other words, every post on your practice page does not have to be about eye care. It doesn’t even have to be about health care.
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To build engagement, your posts need to be funny, inspirational, or stimulating. Each post should also display an image or video, which, Facebook tells us greatly increases engagement.
Even though the posts may have nothing to do with eye care, they are engaging, interesting, and likely to be shared by many followers.
Once this becomes a pattern, your reach will increase and patients will start to pay attention to all of your posts, including those relating to LASIK and other eye-care topics. Conversely, when all posts are about eye care, your Facebook page becomes drab and boring, and followers take a hike.
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Such a strategy requires more creativity and some thinking “outside the box” to develop content and images that regularly engage.
The benefits can be extraordinary as your followers, and their followers, engage with your posts.
In the process, they learn more about your practice and have a positive view of you when it comes time to choose an eye surgeon. That’s when Facebook turns into revenue for your practice.
David W. Evans, PhD, MBA
Dr. Evans is chief executive officer of Ceatus Media Group.