Whether you’re a high-end optician, a progressive urban practice, or a more conservative optometry office with a moderately priced optical, social media is essential to driving sales and building brand loyalty.
In fact, according to the Eyecare Business 2017 Frames + Sunwear Focus Group Study, a full 73% of ECPs are currently utilizing social media to aid their businesses. Why? Because it works.
You may be posting once a week. You may be posting only on Facebook. You may have a third party running your social program, making it feel a bit more “cookie-cutter.” What’s for sure, though, is that you’re likely ready to take your social program to the next level. You’re ready to find those customers whom you didn’t know existed and you’re ready to enjoy the boost in your site’s search engine optimization (SEO)—and your bottom line.
If a bigger, better social presence is your M.O., dive in here to get a simple and highly effective step-by-step guide.
STEP 1: PICK YOUR CHANNELS
Consider each channel’s reach, ease of use, and focus alignment with your business and patient/customer demographic when selecting the best social media outlets for your business. Most are excellent platforms for brand growth and creating sales.
- Facebook. With 1.86 billion users, and a growing platform of business-friendly features, Facebook is the king of social media.
- Instagram. With 400 million users and its photo-forward interface, Instagram is also a perfect match for ECPs. It’s an excellent second choice for a social channel of focus.
- Twitter. If you can get your thoughts #hashtagged in 140 characters or less, Twitter—with 320 million users—is a strong third choice for a social channel to focus on.
- Pinterest. Love collecting or scrapbooking? With its share-and-discover platform, Pinterest serves up over 100 million people pinning to its site every day.
- Google+. Not quite the social media star that other sites are (but a powerhouse for SEO), Google+ is almost a necessity today; and creating and adding content regularly to your Google+ account will benefit your business. Encourage your customers to post reviews there, too, to help your website’s SEO rank higher in local searches. Because, people love 5 stars.
- Live Stream Channels. Recently, live-streaming video has become extremely popular in the socialsphere. Facebook Live and Instagram Live Stories are an easy way to make a short video and capture real-time interest with accounts that you are already invested in.
- Yelp + More. Home in on alternate channels by asking your current customers how they were referred. In areas where Yelp is a common referral source, ask patients to submit reviews and post photos weekly to help your Yelp listing rank higher in SEO.
STEP 2: PICK YOUR PEOPLE
Social media can be a full-time job. There are many tasks to be executed daily. Whether you have one point person or a small team of existing staff members who take on handling different facets of your social agenda, here is a solid list of the tasks that need to be delegated and executed:
- The Photographer. An artistic person who enjoys photography with a nice camera phone would be ideal. This person would take product shots, people shots, and lifestyle shots.
- The Caption Writer. Someone who enjoys writing and storytelling in a tone of voice and #hashtagging that captures your business’s brand values.
- The Quote Writer. Quotes are an essential component to a social program. Here, the wittiest cheese will always stand alone.
- The Boss. Someone who will step up and approve, disapprove, or edit content to be more on-brand.
- The Content Curator. This person collects, organizes, and plans when to post original and shared content.
- The Content Poster. A reliable person who will post on social media platforms based on your posting plan.
- The Social Butterfly. For some, getting paid by your boss to like, share, and comment on social media for at least 20 minutes a day is a dream come true. Find them.
STEP 3: DEFINE YOUR POSTING PLAN
Finding the balance between staying on the mind of your audience and having your audience forget about you is key when defining your posting plan. In the beginning, it’s OK to post once a week if that’s all you have time for. It’s a great starting point. But once you get your social media team together and organized, posting at least once a day, seven days a week will be a snap to execute.
Social media is all about experimenting to find what catches on. You really cannot make a mistake. Find out what doesn’t work and find out what works well. Throw out what doesn’t work and repeat what does.
For an independent optical business, you’re ideally posting one or two times a day during the week.
To get the most traffic, concentrate posts when people are just getting to work (9 a.m.), on their lunch break (noon), or just getting off work (5 p.m.). On weekends, post once a day. You will definitely want to experiment with your times. In general, however, late morning and very late at night are weekend winners.
In terms of social post writing, try to keep them to 140 characters or less so they are Twitter friendly and easy to cut and paste into your other social platforms. Plus, the attention span on social media is about the size of a petite pea. So, keep it small.
There is one exception, however—consumers love, love, love reviews. For product posts, writing a mini-review of 50 to 75 words on Facebook and Instagram does quite well.
STEP 4: CRAFT YOUR POSTS
A successful social program is thoughtful, planned, and on point with your brand story. Posting only when your team feels like it or when they have time will result in a less professional message. Businesses can confuse their audience with an inconsistent program.
Posts should be written at least one week ahead of time, and in the beginning, posting live is easier than trying to preschedule a dozen posts every week. Whether you’re a small optical boutique or a multi-doctor practice, staying organized is essential. One of the simplest tools for keeping tabs on social files is Dropbox. Creating action folders with built-in processes is vital to keeping your social media program running like a well-oiled machine. My practice’s action folders are pictured below, as an example.
Remember the list of tasks/people? Here’s where they come in with the specific order of business.
#1: The Photographer and the Quote Writer will put all their content in the “New Content” folder.
#2: The Caption Writer will add captions and hashtags and move the content to the “Approval Pending” folder.
#3: The Boss will review, comment, and sort into the “Approved Photos” or “Unapproved Photos” folder. Unapproved photos may be further edited and resubmitted into the “New Content” folder.
#4: The Content Curator will organize and carefully name each post according to the posting plan and brand story. For example, “12pm-Wed-March-15-2017-FB-IN-TW.” Place all images into the Dropbox “Curated Content” folder once labeled.
#5: The Content Poster will post as specified by the name description. For the above example, the post should go live on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as close to noon as possible on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Lastly, move images into the “Posted Content” folder for future reference.
Nothing bores or annoys an audience faster than repeating the same content type or posting five photos, one right after the other. Much of social media is storytelling, and it’s best served like a chopped salad—different components that taste great when put together.
# BY THE NUMBERS
OF ECPS POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA A FEW TIMES A MONTH
OF ECPS POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA A FEW TIMES A WEEK
OF ECPS POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA ONCE A WEEK
OF ECPS POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA ONCE A DAY
Source: Eyecare Business Frames + Sunwear Virtual Focus Group Study
Turn the Page for a Day-by-Day Posting Guide
BONUS: SIMPLE, ONE-WEEK SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULE
Here, we lay social media posting out in living color with this sample social schedule, designed to inspire your audience and make your life easier. Build a brand and spread the wings of your business by posting a variety of content on a regular rotation. And, because we’re in the business of selling clarity, aim to post only high-resolution images with your posts.
WORDS + PHOTOS BY TANYA N. GILL, O.D.
DAY 1: POST THE PEOPLE.
Add the personal touch by letting your audience “know” the people. Photos of the owner(s), staff, and customers add a special energy to the storytelling.
Knowing more = loving more = brand loyalty
Relevant hashtags: #drnames, #girlboss, #optometrist
DAY 2: POST WHAT YOU’RE SELLING.
Whether it’s eyeglasses, contact lenses, or dry eye supplies that you’re selling, product images are essential to establishing brand recognition. This one is successful because it is visually interesting along with the fact that it showcases the product.
Relevant tag + hashtags: @framecompany , #framecompany, #eyeglasses, #optician
DAY 3: POST A FUN OR MEMORABLE QUOTE.
Quotes are a key way to share your brand values and establish tone of voice. Quotes are extremely sharable and increase engagement. And, yes, spread your wings by getting shared!
Relevant hashtags: #qotd, #glasses
DAY 4: POST THE LIFESTYLE PHOTO.
Images focusing on your brand values such as color or fashion are content that your followers will love and engage with. The following image and caption are likable and subliminally speak to the product without obvious marketing.
Relevant caption: “Consider this a color vision test.”
DAY 5: REPOST & CREDIT AN INDUSTRY FAVORITE.
Grow your brand by building a community around your favorites. Scroll down your social media feeds and share/repost with a courtesy shout-out. This will get the attention of the original poster and all their followers.
Relevant photo credit: @dcoptics