Is My Facebook Page Really Doing Anything for My Practice?

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NEW YORK—As an Internet Practice Consultant, I constantly hear my clients say "I don't think I really get any business from my Facebook Page and I don't think it is worth the effort." Have you struggled with the same thought? What's up? Facebook is supposed to be this great marketing tool and you have a hard time seeing the benefit.

The thing to remember about Facebook and other social media tools (like Twitter and a blog) is that, generally, they are not "quick direct sales" tools. That is not to say that you can't get new patients that will quickly come directly from having a Facebook page. In fact, if a practice has a good social media strategy and a Facebook page is properly set up, they will get some new patients directly and quickly from their Facebook efforts. But for most practices, Facebook should not be viewed as a quick direct sale tool, like a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign or an email campaign. The ROI and measurements of success are not the same.

Key point: The main purpose of a Facebook page (and overall social media strategy) should be to keep the patient (and potential patient) "engaged" while they are "outside" of the buying cycle.

In the U.S., the average eyeglass buyer purchases a new pair of eyeglasses every 2.2 years, according to Jobson Research. So that means the average consumer (your patient or potential patient) is not shopping for glasses most of the time or they are "outside" of the buying cycle. But during the time they are outside of the buying cycle, they are bombarded by TV commercials from the big box optical retailers about a"2 for $99 sale" or they constantly see ads online from e-commerce eyeglass retailers. Don't be naive, your "so called" loyal patient is being tempted, and your brand name is being diluted. So when your patient wakes up every 2.2 years and thinks "wow, I need to buy new glasses," it is not a slam dunk that they will automatically come to you and make a purchase.

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Hey, I don't have an unlimited budget to compete with the big box optical retailers' TV and newspaper campaigns." This is the beautiful thing about Facebook and highlights my key point. The main purpose of Facebook (and other social media tools) is to keep patients engaged (at a very low cost) while they are outside of the buying cycle. A properly structured Facebook page will do the following:

1) Have content that promotes engagement or entertains consumers. That includes contests, trivia questions, insightful questions or other things that invite a response.

2) Have content that educates. That includes short articles or videos on frame selection or trends in eyeglass fashion, etc.

3) Have content that gives them a reason to stay engaged. People are busy and if you don't provide fresh, interesting, entertaining, and engaging material they will lose interest and "unlike" your page.

4) Handle patient complaints (and compliments) in a quick, direct and professional manner. The key here is quick. I see many companies take several days to respond to a patient complaint. If complaints are handled quickly and directly, you will not only save that patient but will also demonstrate to your Facebook audience that you are a patient-oriented practice.

Most practice Facebook pages I see do not provide these things. Therefore, their Facebook followers don't stay engaged while they are outside of the buying cycle and the key benefit of having a Facebook page is lost. Most ECPs at that point say that Facebook and other social media tools are not delivering (sound familiar?). If a Facebook page (and other social media tools) are properly structured, they will deliver buying patients when they come into the buying cycle. Start with the basics and make sure your Facebook page is set up correctly.

Bottom line – be patient. Keep people engaged on your Facebook page. At the same time, you are keeping your brand name top-of-mind at a very low cost. When they wake up every 2.2 years and decide they need new glasses, then the pay off happens. An added bonus – a properly structured social media program can actually shorten the buying cycle.

Bob Main is an optical industry veteran, with over 25 years of retail optical experience and the last 5 years specifically engaged in internet marketing and social media. As an Internet Business Coach/Consultant, Bob's blog offers ECPs and optical retailers the information they need to learn how to grow their practice/business using the power of the internet.