Social Media Marketing for Optometrists – Should you do it? What do you need to know?
Today I dive into social media. I actually try and convince you that maybe social media, isn’t the best marketing for your practice. I give you some other options to think about and give you some serious options. If you decide to plow ahead and want to give social media a chance, I talk to you about, what we see that is working both paid and organic as well as we talk briefly about influencer marketing things to think about. So I hope this resonates with you. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me. But this is based on a lot of hard won experience. So without further ado, this is Tyler and you are listening to the optometry marketing.com podcast.
If you own a practice, maybe you’re a marketing director of a practice, or you just want to learn more about marketing, a practice that you work for. One of the things that you’ll inevitably come across is this idea of, you know, social media marketing, right? It’s like, oh, well I need a Facebook page. I need Instagram. We need all of this stuff. Right? All this social media stuff. All of that has a place, I don’t want to diminish that, but I think if I could sit down with any practice owner and ask, what are you really trying to accomplish? I mean, you don’t wanna become Insta famous probably right. If you do, we can talk about that, but that’s not what you want at the end of the day.
You Want Marketing That Works
You want new patients in the seat? For you to give exams, to, to sell glasses, to, to sell contacts, to, you know, to just help out, right. To help improve their lives through your services. So what I find is that a lot of times we will focus an inordinate amount of money and time and resources on this idea of, social media marketing. Because somebody, some the blog at some point told us that we needed to do that, right? Oh, if we’re gonna market, we need social media marketing. Well, I’m gonna challenge you for the next few minutes here to take a step back and say,
okay, let’s forget everything that we know.
Let me just kind of share my experience with social media marketing in general. What we see works for practices and what doesn’t and how I kind of prioritize all of this.
Lead Generation Strategies
Okay. So first of all, when you’re thinking about marketing and optometry practice, the thing that we are most focused on the vast majority of the time is lead generation, right? The idea is you get someone to call, you get them to book an appointment online, they’re generating a lead, right? And eventually a patient, you call it patient generation. So really I like to focus on strategies that deliver leads and patients to you directly and quickly. Social media in my experience is not usually one of them, again, put an asterisk in that, because there are a few exceptions, but generally speaking social media is not one of them.
Organic SEO Improves Social Media Marketing Efforts
So when I first start marketing a practice, here are the things that I look at. I look at organic SEO. How well does your website rank for specific keywords, specific searches that people are making? So an example would be, if I search for say you’re in Phoenix, right? An optometrist in Phoenix, does your website actually show up organically? That’s where I like to start. You need really good organic social media. Your website is sort of the epicenter, if you will, of your digital marketing universe. And so I really recommend getting your website in good shape.
Google My Business
Just as importantly now is your Google My Business profile, right? Your GMB profile. And just to be clear, if you ever search for a local business, whether it is, you know, your own practice, you know, optometry, you know, whether it’s a plumber, whether it’s a restaurant, it’s that thing that shows up that has a website, a handful of photos, a phone number you can click to call, you can get directions right from the Google search page that is your Google, my business profile.
Your website and your Google my business profile, those are the very first things I optimize before I would ever even think about setting up a Facebook page.
I would really optimize your main website and your Google, my business profile. Now there’s a lot that go into that. If you want to kind of see how you’re doing compared to your competitors in your region, reach out to us, send me an email at [email protected]. We do offer at least for a limited time, a free audit. Although we’re doing a lot of them. And so I don’t know how long we’ll be able to offer them, but mention you heard it on the podcast and send me an email at [email protected]. And we can put together a little audit for you of your SEO and Google my business. So you gotta get those things in good shape.
Unique Challenges for Social Media Marketing
Now the challenges, SEO and Google my business, it requires a very kind of specific skillset. That we offer, you know, selfishly, that said, if you wanna do it on your own, here’s a few things I would think about. And, by the way, I did a whole other podcast episode and 10 minutes on SEO. So you can go listen to that, but it’s really, you know, using appropriate keywords, getting back links from wherever you can, you know, better business bureau from, you know, scholarships or anything else you sponsor. It’s just building up your own site authority, domain authority, adding meaningful content posting, you know, a blog post or something interesting from time to time, making sure you have product pages for each of the services. If you offer diabetic retinopathy, myopia control, whatever those services are, as well as maybe the major insurance providers, Medicare, Medicaid and whatever other ones you offer, you wanna make sure you’re mentioning those. You’re using them on your site. You have kind of the foundation there, that’s the very first place to start.
You also must know that a lot of your competitors, if you’re in any kind of competitive market, where is more than a handful are likely working with somebody on their SEO. So they either have an agency, they have someone in house. They have someone dedicated to both the SEO and Google my business ranking. So if you’re just putting a very part-time effort into it, it may or may not be enough. Depending on the competition in your particular area. So anyway, I promise this was a social media talk. And so I don’t wanna go too far afield into SEO, but those that’s the foundation that I always like to start.
Google Search Ads Expand Your Marketing Reach
Okay, from there, the next thing I think about are, what we get into with like what I call paid channels. And so the most important one right now is Google search ads. So if you ever search for, you know, optometrist in your area, you may have those results that show up at the top, they have a little ad text next to them, right? People are paying to be there. The way that works is those clicks.
Google Ad Auction and “Cost Per Click”
You’re literally bidding in an auction system in real time, right? You imagine that software has this, you know, auctioneer up there and it happens in a fraction of a second, but it bids on that click. And so depending on the competition most what we call cost per click. Every time someone clicks on that. It’s usually between three and $10, depending again, on competition, your area, how good your ads are, all that kind of stuff. But Google search ads.
And so let me back up again and say like, so SEO, Google, my business, Google search has, why do these matter? They matter because in the moment someone is looking for your product or service, right? They sit down in front of a computer. They got something in their eye. They realize their glasses, aren’t working as well as they thought, whatever they know, they need an eye exam. They know they need an eye doctor. They know they need an optometrist. So they are looking, they are your high intent searches. These are people who are ready to make a decision. Those are the people that you want to reach out to that you want to reach out to you. And, and using this high intent marketing is the easiest way to do that. So I always start here before we get to social media.
Set Your Campaign Budgets Wisely
Once you have your Google search ads, rock and enroll and you know, budgets and depends on competition, you know, but eventually you should be getting a positive ROI on that spend, assuming you’re not in a crazy competitive market, you know, with maybe a national chain that can outspend you. But even then there’s a lot of opportunity there, especially for small local businesses, I would recommend at least trying and testing it. If you want help, reach out to us, happy to do it, or at least find an agency who actually know knows what they’re doing with that stuff. And not just like, yeah, we’re gonna run some ads. Also. This is very different from like display ads or kind of your general banner ads. This is the high intense stuff. That’s what we want.
Direct Mail Campaigns and Local Marketing
So those are the three that I think about another kinda little bonus is a direct mail piece. Do you wanna do direct mailings? Do you wanna do coupons and local flyers? Direct mails still works. It works really well when done correctly. And so that’s something else to think about. If nothing else you should be doing direct mail follow ups, when it’s time for your patients, right. To schedule a new appointment, right? Send them a card and say, “hey, it’s been a year,” whatever, “it’s been six months,” however often you recommend they come in, “we’d love to see you.” That can have a massive return on, you know, a very small and investment. You’re paying a few cents per postcard, typically, maybe 20, 30 cents. By the time it gets mailed very, very good return. Okay. So that’s where I always like to start is on the high intense stuff. And again, this is before social and I’m gonna get to social. I promise.
Social is something that is just a lot of times really shiny. It doesn’t work for most practices.
Engaging Your Patients for Follow-Ups Boosts ROI
Again, we’ll talk about why it works, but this is where I would start. So once you have those three or four things, SEO, Google my business, Google search ads and direct mail pieces working for you. Then I would also make sure your follow ups are in place, right? So you’re getting patients in the door now, are you good at getting them to return? Do you have your, your annual follow ups? Do you have a happy birthday message, right? Do you have ways to kind of follow up and engage them? These are your low hanging fruit stuff. You typically get the highest ROI.
Now you got all that done, right? Let’s say that. You’re like, we’re killing it in SEO. We got great Google My Business, reviews. We’re doing search ads, getting people in the chair. But we’re kind of getting tapped out on growth. Now I want to think about continuing to grow and, and fill the seat.
So once you have all those in place now, and only now, do I think about spending a meaningful amount of time in social?
That doesn’t mean you can’t post from time to time, you know, have an intern or a front desk person or somebody like that make a post. That’s fine, but it’s not gonna typically in my experience, be a big part of the revenue for your business until you get those pieces out of the way.
The Painful Reality of Social Media Marketing Today
A few things. One is the organic. What we call the organic reach on social media is really low. What does that mean? Okay. It means you go out there, let’s say you started on Facebook, you know, 10, 15 years ago. Back then you could create a Facebook page. You could still do that today, but back then you could create a Facebook page and you could get a ton of traffic and engagement, right? You make a post about, hey, look how sunny it is in our town. And you could get 50 likes or a hundred likes and a bunch of comments, right? That is no longer case. And why is that? Well, it’s not really your fault. It’s Facebook’s fault. What they have done is they realize that as a company, as a publicly traded company, they want people to spend money on advertisements, right? Both, you know, small little businesses, $5, $10, $20 a day, as well as the big brands want. They want people to spend money, because that helps their business, right. Their top line revenue. And eventually their bottom line profit is all driven through this advertising.
Organic Reach is Really Low (You Have to “Pay to Play”)
Okay, so what they’ve done to really incentivize right follow the incentives to incentivize folks like yourselves to pay for advertising is they have minimized, they’ve reduced or organic reach. I haven’t looked in a little while, but I looked about nine months ago. I think something like that, it’s been a little bit and it was, you know, organic reach was like 0.01%. Meaning that if you have literally thousands of followers you’ll only get a little bit of engagement. Usually one or two likes. Now there are exceptions to that. If you post something really funny, that gets high engagement right off the bat, the Facebook algorithm says, Hey, this is great. We’re gonna promote that.
So the more, you know, outlandish. Funny, whatever you can be, you can get more engagement that way again, is it typically gonna drive a large portion of your revenue? Probably not, but if you’re gonna do social, that’s one thing to think about.
Leverage Your Influence To Improve Organic Reach
So what are the other options? And in social, we know organic reach is really low. So one of the things you can do is sort of become a celebrity, right? Like if you’re out there and you’re constantly giving out, I wanna to be careful because you’re not giving out medical advice, but if you’re talking about eyecare, if you’re talking about eyes, if it’s interesting, if it’s informative, if it’s engaging content, you know through maybe your Instagram stories almost think of yourself or your team, like a celebrity, there can be some value there. The problem is, it’s a ton of work you’re posting every day. You know, you’re filming yourself in the office, you’re having, you know, posting stories or photos or engagement with some kind of interesting piece an agency. Typically isn’t gonna be able to do that for you, right? They’re not you, they don’t have your personality. Sure. They can schedule a handful of posts. They can make sure things get posted, but they’re not gonna have the personality and that’s what you need to thrive.
Find A Niche to Drive Engagement
You could also dive into some niches. Perhaps you have a niche or two, maybe a specific medical condition that you treat. Maybe you work with athletes, maybe you work with, you know, professionals of some sort, right? High performers, CEOs, whatever kind of your niche is. Those are the thing that you can post about that can have good engagement.
Okay. So if you’re going to do the organic route, a lot of times it requires putting your face or someone from your team, their face on it requires having engaging content, actually being interactive. It’s almost like a whole other job, which is great. If you wanna do that, if you wanna grow your following that way, I encourage it. It’s actually super, but it’s rare because it’s difficult. And so if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, go for it, otherwise you should think about a few of these other ones.
Pay Per Click for Social Media
So then you can also do paid social, right? Facebook ads, Instagram ads, or the quit essential example of this. So what are we looking at when we think about paid social media? So with paid social, you’re spending money similar to Google ads that I talked about for every click. What that means is that you want to make sure, that you are measuring the return on your investment, right?
If you spend $500 in one month, do people click on your ads? How many are booking? What are they spending? You need to be measuring this ROI piece. That also means that typically you’re not paying to just do what is called a boost. You know where you say, Hey, it’s, you know, super sunny outside or hey, here’s a new blog about, you know, vision therapy or whatever. Really what you’re trying to do is you are running promotions, you’re running offers that actually get people in the door that is the goal.
You wanna get people in the door. So that usually means that they click, they land on your website. They book an appointment. Maybe you can run a coupon, a black Friday, you know, Cyber Monday type sale, a holiday sale, something like that. Maybe you’re giving away, you know, a new set of glasses. So you wanna want people to enter, you know, come in for an exam, win a free pair of glasses. I mean, there’s tons of stuff you can do. But the idea is you’re not just out there promoting anything.
You’re out there actually promoting a very specific offer. And then you’re measuring the return in, on investment for that offer.
So it’s its own beast. You don’t treat it like in your head, draw a line between like organic social media posting and this, this paid social posting, like draw a line in your head there. It’s just very different. They can both be valuable. But paid is much more scalable and doesn’t require you to necessarily build the same mill level of brand.
Social Media Engagement Ideas
What are some other opportunities? So you can build a community, you know, get people to engage and follow with you. But again, that usually means either taking a stance on an issue. It means providing lots of value. It means having lots of conversations and engagement one way to do that would be Facebook groups. Facebook groups are super popular right now, but you need to create a group of people that are interested in a particular niche, maybe, you know, vision for hyper formers or, how diet affects your vision. I don’t know, but you need to have, kind of an angle, right, that you’re going at this with. Otherwise it won’t make sense. And I would say for 99% of practices. If you’re just for the first time hearing about this, maybe I shouldn’t do social right away. Probably building a Facebook group is not for you, it requires care and feeding, right. It’s super high maintenance. It could be really powerful, but you know, just know what you’re getting into ahead of time.
Influencer Marketing with Instagram
For those of you who want to do social media, I would definitely lean more into the paid side. Then kind of the final thing to think about is influencer marketing, right? For most practices you obviously are focused on a specific geographic region, you know, whatever area town you’re in. There’s a good chance that there’s a handful of influencers in that area. You know, people who have Instagram following of 10,000, 20,000, a hundred thousand folks, again, depending on how big your city or your community is. If you’re in a real small community, maybe there’s not, but that would be something else to look at and say, how can I partner with this person. Can we, have them come in and give a tour of the office typically, they have packages or they are open to you paying them for a post, maybe 500 or a thousand dollars. If they have a large following, it could be several thousand dollars or more, you know, pricing really based on engagement and a lot of other things. But maybe they sit down and do sort of an interview with you as the doctor. Or the doctor in your practice or one of the specialists in your practice. But they can get you publicity and that’s sort of building this, the brand piece, right.
Getting your face out there, your brand out there, that’s something else that you can think about.
Recap of Social Media Marketing for Optometrists
But again, it’s much more like this paid advertisements piece where you’re sort of in the pay to play world. It’s not true organic posting. Okay. So hopefully all that makes sense. I know I threw a lot of information at you. So again, if you’re just thinking about social media, here’s where I would start first focus on lead generation through SEO, Google my business, and Google search ads, get that. If you can do that better than anybody else, you’re gonna be in great shape.
So start there. That’s where we start with all the practices that we advise as well, then move into follow ups, right? Drive return visits at customer loyalty. Get that engagement going once you’ve nailed those down. You can think about direct marketing specific offers, you know, either as part of a catalog or, you know, postcards follow up, then go there only once you have all of those. Then do I really think about doing organic or even paid social media, right? That’s kind of the varsity level marketing for most practices again, maybe you have, you know, a great personality and you wanna post all the time, there’s exceptions to every rule. So I definitely don’t wanna discourage you, but if you’re looking for sort of the minimum effort, most automated way to do it, organic social media is likely not gonna be it for you.
If you do, then it needs to be paid. You need to run ads, you need to measure that ROI. So that’s how we advise almost all of our practices. There are exceptions, but typically, just start with the stuff that’s going to lead for growth for your business. Get rid of the noise, focus on that bottom line, profit top line revenue, you getting those backsides in those seats. So you can evaluate their eyeballs and then go from there. I hope this was helpful. This is what I wish someone would’ve told me when I first started doing marketing. Hopefully this will save you a ton of time and effort. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Optometry marketing.com. This is Tyler and you have listened to the Optometry Marketing podcast. Talk soon.