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HomemibusinessUsing Social Media The Right Way!

Using Social Media The Right Way!

Can your practice crack the success code to Facebook and Instagram?

In this article, web strategist Paul Sallaway looks at how to adopt tactics that have been proven to boost practice visibility, get people talking, and, ultimately, grow business.

What if I told you there was a hidden obstacle to growing your optometry practice? No, I’m not talking about staffing, equipment costs, supply chain issues or even competition from other optometrists.

I’m talking about the real challenge, and it’s something that’s within your control, yet often overlooked. It’s how you communicate with your community.

Optometrists play a vital role in maintaining eye health and providing vision care. But does your target audience understand the value you provide?

The bridge for this communication gap could very well lie in effective use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram; both owned by Meta.

You see, Facebook and Instagram aren’t merely digital spaces for swapping cat videos and holiday snaps. They’re mediums for enlightening, engaging, and transforming your local residents into not just patients, but loyal ones at that.

I’ve seen eye care practitioners use their Facebook Business Page to generate the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth success. They use their social media timeline to highlight their activities, promote events, and emphasise their connection to the community.

But on the other hand, I’ve also seen optometrists randomly posting dull, run of the mill content and hearing back, well… *crickets*.

WHY FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM?

In October 2023, 43.6% of Australians stated they used social media when looking for information about a brand.1

And the most widely used social media platforms within Australia were Facebook and Instagram.

Approximately 70% of Australians are active Facebook users and 37% are active Instagram users.2 So, it makes sense to start with these two channels as a way to spread awareness of your eye care business.

Based on a sample study of independent Australian optometrists, undertaken by my own marketing agency in early 2023:

  • 67.4% of optometry practices in our survey had a Facebook Business Page,
  • Those with a Facebook Business Page had, on average, 341 followers,
  • Optometry practices with a Facebook Business Page made, on average, 13 posts in the previous three months (one per week), and
  • 40% had an Instagram page.

So if you aren’t using Meta social media accounts, it’s time to start. Because your competitors are doing it. And your patients expect it.

FIVE FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE BEST PRACTICES

So what are some things you should be doing to level up your social media game?

Try these ideas:

1. Optimise Your Business Page Banner

Your Facebook Business Page banner is valuable screen real estate.

Don’t waste it with confusing, pixellated, poorly cropped or meaningless stock images.

Always use high resolution team photos if you can.

The recommended dimensions are 360 pixels tall by 820 pixels wide. Keep anything important within the ‘safe zone’ contained by 24 pixel margins on the top and bottom and 90 pixel margins on the left and right.

2. Add Keywords to Your Page Name

Facebook doesn’t mind if you ‘keyword stuff ’ like your Business Page name. So, for example, instead of ‘Vision Plus’, use ‘Vision Plus | Adelaide Optometrists’. It’s an extra chance to get your optometry practice name to appear in Google’s search results for high value keyword search terms.

Note: Do not try keyword stuffing your Google business profile. Different company. Different terms and conditions.

3. Optimise Your Tabs

Completely fill out your Facebook Business Page ‘About’ tab with all your business information. Make it as comprehensive as possible. Also, check your ‘Settings‘ tab to make sure everything is to your liking.

4. Check Your Page Insights

Don’t forget to use the Facebook Business Page ‘professional dashboard / insights’ feature to see how much reach and engagement your posts are getting. This can give you clues about what content you should be posting.

5. Use a Vanity URL

Which of the following would you rather share with the world?

  1. a) facebook.com/Vision-Plus/5478569871236
  2. b) facebook.com/visionplus

The second one, right?

Facebook allows you to create a custom link address for your Facebook page, so take advantage of that. It looks more professional.

EIGHT INSTAGRAM BUSINESS ACCOUNT BEST PRACTICES

Want to learn some tips and tricks for getting better value out of Instagram? Read on.

1. Optimise Your Bio Description

You only have 150 characters to describe your business, so use them wisely. Include keywords to improve discoverability.

2. Use Your Bio Links

Instagram now allows accounts to have more than one bio link. So add links to your practice appointment booking page, your blog, your Facebook Business Page and anything else that is relevant.

3. Create Facebook Reels (Short Form Video)

Many Instagram account holders don’t bother with creating these 15–90 second videos. But Meta has publicly stated that Reels will be a key priority for Instagram (and Facebook) going forward.3 Any time a social media company tells you it wants to promote more of a certain type of content, you should listen and try to catch the wave.

If you have some short-form movie making chops, more power to you. But the beauty of social media is that ‘authenticity’ trumps ‘production value’, especially for short form content like Reels. Nobody expects Steven Spielberg.

4. Create Stories

These are images and videos that display full screen on mobile and disappear after 24 hours. If creating content that has a shorter shelf life than a loaf of bread seems like a waste of effort, you can save stories for posterity using ‘Highlights’. This can be a great way of saving ‘frequently asked questions’ as an Instagram resource for your optometry practice followers.

5. Use Location Tags (and Location Stickers On Stories)

You can increase the local visibility of your posts by tagging your content with locations. These will show up just above your post, and in a revolving ‘ticker’ along with how long ago you posted it, and the track name of any music you added. Posts with a location tag lead to 79% higher engagement than posts without a location.4 This is a huge opportunity.

6. Engage With Instagram Business Accounts Near You

It’s worth setting aside 15 minutes each day to engage with other businesses in your area. Like their posts, comment, share, and send direct messages (DMs) when appropriate (don’t spam of course). This increases the chances they will respond back. If you get some Instagram rapport going, you can occasionally tag their accounts when you post. This encourages the algorithm to show your posts to more people.

7. Use Hashtags

Although not as powerful as they once were, #hashtags are still a useful tactic to increase visibility. Try to use a mix of niche hashtags and more popular ones. According to a recent comment by social media consultant Matt Navarra, it seems that in 2024 Instagram is going to reward accounts that use just three to five hashtags in the caption.5

8. Get Creative

Use GIFs, music, emojis, filters, boomerangs, question stickers, poll stickers… Your posts will stand out if you customise your content with all the editing tools Instagram is giving you.

WHAT TO POST

Engagement. Engagement. Engagement. That should be your social media mantra. Don’t post boring content. Your followers will tune out, and the platform algorithms will hide your content faster than a pair of dirty socks.

Content that works well is usually one of the following:

  • Humorous: Comedy is an art form. But done well, it can make your account go viral.
  • Inspiring: A quote, a short story, an image or video… anything that lifts people’s spirits or gets them thinking differently about a topic.
  • Educational: Teach your audience a valuable tip. Posts busting common myths are also popular, when done in moderation. Share your latest blog posts.
  • Behind the scenes: Show the unrehearsed, the unpolished, even goofy side of your business. People feel most connected when we let our guard down. Even fairly mundane tasks like unboxing a new shipment of frames can work.
  • Giveaways: Running sweepstakes is a great way to get your audience spreading the word on your behalf. e.g. “Share this post to your Facebook Profile and tag us for a chance to win a free pair of Maui Jim sunnies this month!”

WHAT NOT TO POST

There are plenty of common pitfalls when attempting to grow your practice on social media. Try to avoid these:

  • Posting infrequently: Consistency is key. The algorithms are more likely to show your content if you keep a steady pace, than if you go off the radar for months at a time. The most effective social media posting strategy I’ve witnessed is where the account plans out regular posts like a TV soap drama, with each post telling a part of a connected story, and each one leaving on a cliff hanger, where the audience is begging for more. Psychologists even have a name for this: ‘the Zeigarnik effect’.6
  • Posting at the wrong time: Almost all social media has an inbuilt ‘recency bias’. In fact it has been calculated that the half-life (the time it takes for a post to receive half of its total engagement) of a Facebook post is just 76 minutes.7 So don’t post at times when you know most of your target audience is going to be busy doing other things. There are tools like the Meta Business Suite that you can use to batch and schedule your Facebook and Instagram content ahead of time.8
  • One-way conversations: Social media should not be treated as a one-way broadcast channel; it should be a two-way street. Like and respond to all comments. A good rule of thumb is to always get in the last word on a comment thread… even if those last words are “thank you (heart mark)”.
  • Only posting one type of content: Mix it up. Try images with a short caption and images with long captions. Short form videos, long form videos. Carousel posts. Plain text posts with emojis. Plain text with funky colour backgrounds. There is no clear formula. Throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.
  • Posting content that looks like ads: Most of us have an instinctive ‘marketing message filter’ where we keep scrolling past anything that looks like an ad. So the best way to promote products or services is to present them in unexpected ways. This is what marketers call a ‘pattern interrupt’. Asking your staff to help plan and produce promo videos can empower your employees and generate some innovative ideas. Challenge your team to think outside the box.

CONCLUSION

Wrapping up, it’s clear that mastering Facebook and Instagram offers a significant opportunity to grow your optometry practice. We’ve walked through the why and the how, spotlighting best practices, and common pitfalls. Now, the path forward involves applying these insights to connect with your community effectively, enhance your online presence, and ultimately, grow your optometry patient base.

If this journey seems daunting, or if you’re unsure how to apply these strategies to your specific context, hiring a social media management agency could save a lot of time.

Paul Sallaway is a web strategist and the owner of Optics Digital Marketing, an agency that exclusively works with optometrists in Australia and New Zealand.

Visit: opticsdigital.net.

References

  1. Ramshaw, A., Social media statistics for Australia (updated January 2024), Genroe, available at genroe.com/ blog/social-media-statistics-australia/13492 [accessed April 2024].
  2. Correll, D., Social media statistics Australia – December 2023. Social Media News.com.au, posted 1 January 2024, available at socialmedianews.com.au/social-mediastatistics-australia-december-2023 [accessed April 2024].
  3. Culliford, E., Facebook launches Reels globally, betting on ‘fastest growing’ format. Available at reuters.com/ technology/facebook-launches-reels-globally-bettingfastest-growing-format-2022-02-22 [accessed April 2024]
  4. Jungemann, F., Instagram location and user tagging – the boost for your Instagram. Facelift, available at faceliftbbt.com/en/product-updates/instagram-location-usertagging [accessed April 2024].
  5. Newman, T., How many hashtags can you include on an Instagram post? Posted 15 February 2024, Social Media News, available at routenote.com/blog/Instagram-hashtags [accessed April 2024].
  6. Cherry, K., The Zeigarnik effect and memory. Posted 1 January 2024, available at verywellmind.com/zeigarnikeffect-memory-overview-4175150 [accessed April 2024].
  7. Graffius, S.M., Lifespan (half-life) of social media posts: update for 2024. Posted 1 January 2024, available at scottgraffius.com/blog/files/social-24.html [accessed April 2024].
  8. Meta, Create and schedule posts and stories on Meta Business Suite desktop (web page) available at facebook.com/business/help/942827662903020? id=916550222172854 [accessed April 2024].