NEW YORK—After measuring 1,000 optometry websites, managed by EyeCarePro, in the months of October and November this year, we learned which were the social media sites driving the most traffic to optometric practice websites.
We were surprised to see that the number one referrer of traffic to optometric websites from social media is
Yelp, driving in the vicinity of 2,300 visits per month.
What makes these numbers even more impressive is that while it would seem this would mean that each of the 1,000 practices received 2.3 visits per month, there are really a ton of practices getting zero traffic from Yelp because they haven't yet claimed their page. In fact, only about 30 percent of practices have claimed their Yelp page and are therefore getting traffic referrals. This actually triples the numbers, bringing the actual measure closer to seven visits a month from Yelp for practices that have claimed their page.
There are a number of practical reasons that Yelp stands out from the crowd. Even though more practices have a
Facebook page linked to their website, they aren't often linking back to their website from Facebook. In general, most optometrists using Facebook are accustomed to putting new content on their Facebook page and linking to this from their website rather than the other way around. Few update their websites frequently enough to make it worthwhile to post a link from the Facebook page to website.
Google+, the up and coming social media site, is currently being used by far less practices. Nevertheless, those that do have a Google+ page typically use it in the same way as Facebook, driving traffic from the website to the G+ page and not vice versa.
In addition to traffic referred by social media sites, we also looked at the numbers of pageviews and pages per visit on the practice website which were brought over by social media referrals. The amount of time and activity that a visitor spends on the website indicates the visitor's interest in the site and the quality of the visit. Yelp (along with Google+ which represents a much smaller volume of traffic) reigned yet again bringing 3.56 pages per visit and an average duration of 3 minutes 19 seconds per visit. These numbers are impressive considering that the standard for the industry is 2.58 pages per visit for the average visitor, who visits for 2 minutes and 44 seconds. Facebook users on the other hand tend to have way lower pages per visit and duration of time per visit.
So what do these results mean and how can you apply them to your practice's social media strategy?
Firstly, this data shows that people/consumers/patients who use Yelp are looking to do business. In this case, they are looking for an optometrist and when they find one that interests them they will continue to learn more (by looking on your website) until they have made a decision about scheduling an appointment. People are using Yelp to find businesses, so if you have not already claimed your Yelp page, you should do so immediately. Do this by going to the following webpage,
biz.yelp.com/claiming, finding and claiming your business or adding it if it is not already listed.
Now, before you jump the gun and start pumping advertising dollars into Yelp, keep in mind that Yelp will really only benefit your practice if you have a lot of reviews. We recommend that you forget the advertising and spend your efforts trying to get a lot of good reviews from satisfied customers. Once you achieve this, you won't need to advertise, because users naturally gravitate to businesses that have a lot of reviews and you will automatically get a lot of traffic referred to your website.
Does this mean that you should abandon your other social media efforts?
Not at all! What you do need to know is how each of these sites is used by consumers and how you can adjust your strategy to capitalize on these trends.
According to EyeCarePro's analysis, the top five social media platforms which are sending traffic to this group of 1,000 optometric websites are: 1) Yelp; 2) Facebook; 3) Google+; 4)
Reddit and 5)
For Google+ for example, you want to make sure that you link your page to your Google business listing and your website. This will boost your SEO and bring visitors that find you on Google to your practice website.
Facebook can be used to drive traffic back and forth to your website, yet this may not be bringing new patients but rather maintaining current patient loyalty. When your website is updated, especially if you have a news section or blog, make sure to link back to it from your Facebook page.
Keep in mind that these results are not representative of the rest of the web, just optometric practices and how they are using social media. Even within optometry there are different practices using these outlets in very different ways.
The takeaway here is that when you are deciding how to allot your time and resources to your online efforts, it's important to understand how the user interacts with the medium and what you aim to get out of it.
To increase your network, engage with patients and gain recognition, Facebook can be a great channel. If you want to drive potential patients to your website, for now at least, Yelp is a better bet.
Nancy Rausman is the managing editor of the
EyeCarePro blog and Optometry Web Newsletter. She is responsible for providing ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing.