Promoting ophthalmic practice through social media made easy

October 1, 2014

Social media is a highly effective tool for promoting practices’ campaigns, but knowing several key strategies will increase success from advertising.

 

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Social media is a highly effective tool for promoting practices’ campaigns, but knowing several key strategies will increase success from advertising.

 

 

By Rose Schneider, Content Specialist, Ophthalmology Times

Houston-In recent years, social media has emerged as a game-changer for companies looking to promote their businesses outside of the print platform.

It is no longer enough to purchase an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine to promote a practice’s LASIK discounts and expect patients to come-practices must now go directly to the customer, and social media is the ideal way to accomplish this goal, said Michael W. Malley.

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Understanding the practice’s target audience-current and potential future patients-is the first step in tackling a social media marketing strategy, said Malley, president and founder of the Centre for Refractive Marketing (CRM Marketing Group), an ophthalmic consulting and advertising agency based in Houston.

Audience breakdown

According to Malley, recent research has found that women go online by way of smartphones more often than men by about 10%.

Men and women also respond to social media differently, he explained, so practices should not be discouraged if there is no immediate reaction to promotion efforts.

“When it comes to how men respond to social media, it’s kind of how men do things in life-we want quick, easy access to things,” Malley said.

 

For example, if a practice is going to promote a coupon or savings-special offer, men are more likely to make a quicker decision to purchase something or scan a QR code than women, he said.

Women, on the other hand, prefer doing research by following social trends before making a purchase.

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“They will follow trends and information and see what their friends are doing from a social media standpoint,” Malley said. “It takes a little time” to get women to respond to promotions.“Just don’t give up too soon when you’re making those offers out there,” he advised.

Women also tend to ignore ads on social media more than men, he said.

“We start off with half the audience ignoring your ads, you’re already in the hole a bit, so don’t expect overwhelming response from any social media that you do because you’re losing about half as soon as you start,” he said. “It takes time.”

Social media interaction

How a practice interacts with its audience on social media is also highly important, Malley explained.

“When was the last time you bought something for $4,000 or $5,000 based on a Facebook ad about something you weren’t on Facebook about?” he posed. “That’s not how this thing works. We think if we put a banner ad on Google network or our Facebook page . . . people are going to jump all over (it).

 

“(But), they’re using social media not to have LASIK, that’s the first revelation you need to realize,” Malley continued. “They’re not using social media for LASIK, LASIK is a part of their social media.”

By becoming a part of the conversation with the practice’s Facebook audience-instead of simply posting photographs or information and expecting people to find it-customers are more likely to interact.

Utilizing local media with a large social media presence is another effective tip to expand that conversation to promote the practice.

In order to accomplish this method, Malley said practices should first look at their own Facebook and Twitter followers. Which media outlets are they following? Do any of those outlets have large social followings?

If the answer to those two questions is “yes,” practices should reach out to those media targets-such as radio or television stations-and attempt a deal for them to promote campaigns through their accounts

Further tips

“How many people are following you or are interested in you versus a super large FM radio station or a TV station?” Malley said. “Everything we (CRM Group) do now, before we negotiate any media, we say whatever we do with (radio or television stations) externally from a media standpoint, we want to hook up with (them) online, with social, with Facebook. Anything they have going on, we want that.”

 

From these relationships, a practice’s campaign that would normally only have been seen by its 700 Twitter followers would now also be viewed by the local radio station’s 100,000 followers.

Furthermore, creating connections with those who are in charge of large media outlets can increase a practice’s campaign visibility as well, Malley explained.

“It never hurts to hook up with the guy that controls all the station programing,” he said.

Those connections become even more valuable when they go from just a connection to a patient. For example, if a radio personality has a great LASIK experience at your practice, get them to be the face of the practice’s next campaign for more visibility, Malley said.

Homepage takeover is another excellent route for maximizing a promotion’s exposure to target audiences.

“In one entire day you (can’t) go to that station and not see our ads all over their homepage, and I think that’s a pretty good investment of dollars,” Malley said. “(CRM Group) actually got more out of this than we actually did on (a) radio campaign.”

Nevertheless, the biggest takeaway from learning how to market through social media is that no matter how good a physician is at their clinic or how great a LASIK campaign is for patients, do not expect people to pay attention without active social media effort.

“As good as your doctor is or as good as you might be, people have more important things to do than follow you online and go to your Facebook page every day or tweet about you every day,” Malley stressed. “The core part of my messaging is piggyback, everybody you know, piggyback. Every person that you’ve worked with from a media standpoint.”