SM & Your Eyecare Business: Facebook for Business – Lesson 5
The goals of a social media campaign are different for a business than for an individual who wishes to socialize. The goals are also different than those of a traditional marketing campaign where one attempts to drive customers directly into their small business. Social media in general works through connections.
So for someone newly entering the realm of SM it would be logical to assume one-to-one connections would be how you can expect to drive customers into your business. You put yourself out there, someone finds it, they call to schedule an appointment or Mapquests your location and in an ideal world they come in and buy a $1200 pair of designer eyewear. While this happens occasionally on a micro-level, these business-to-consumer efforts don’t happen frequently or successfully enough to make them the main thrust of your campaign.
So how can social media drive customers into your business?
The answer is “indirectly” through search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engines regularly scour the web with their robots, referred to as “Bots” and assign levels of “relevance” to websites and blogs based on keywords. For instance, if your site regularly mentions the keyword “optical,” you link to other sites that mention the keyword “optical” and they link to you, then you are assigned a higher “relevance” score than sites that do not. The relevance of a website and/or blog is determined by several things, but mostly by how much up-to-date relevant content is published in a given area of expertise and how many people reference the blog or website by linking their content to it. When a “Bot” finds a site that is:
• Regularly updated with content that is keyword-specific to a given search,
• Links to other highly relevant sites within the same specialty,
• Is modern in it’s technology (incorporates online forms, videos etc.) and
• Participates in social media…
… then the Bot assigns a higher grade to that site or blog than it would to a similar site in a similar area of expertise that isn’t as up-to-date. This higher grade manifests itself by pushing the more up-to-date (i.e. “relevant”) website or blog higher in the search engine listings when an internet user searches for something specific to the content the website or blog covers. In essence, the more “relevant” your website for any specific search term, the higher up you will appear in search engines when people in your geographic location are searching for your services in their area. Eventually, you show up higher in a Google search for “optical” than your local competitor and are “found” more by people in your area searching for “optical” products.
So you write a blog post – how do you get your message out there so the Bots can find it? This is where Facebook becomes helpful. Facebook can be used as a tool to get your message out to a larger audience. The larger your Facebook network (the more “friends” you have), the larger your broadcast audience. This is one reason why you shouldn’t reject a “friend” request. If you are using Facebook for business then you want your audience, or the people willing to “listen” to what you have to say in your posts, to be as numerous as possible. Remember, when someone accepts a friend request, they are giving you carte blanche to hit them up with information. But you do want to be careful not to over-market to them or post spam-like content or people will steer clear of you. Over time, if you are careful with what you post and people enjoy your information you gradually become a recognized expert on whatever topic you post and you will draw people towards your efforts, who will in turn refer friends to you, and your efforts will have a quantifiable benefit.
Your effort might work like this:
• You write a post, let’s say on Intralase.
• You post it to your blog and create a short-link for your blog post by using a URL shortener like http://www.tinyurl.com.
• You update your Facebook page by writing a “teaser” in the empty bar at the top of your Facebook page that says “What’s on your mind?” ex. “Bladeless LASIK?! The safest LASIK yet . . .”
• Then immediately below the teaser you copy the shortened URL for you r blog post.
• Then you hit “Share” and it blasts out to all your Facebook friends informing them you have posted a new blog and giving them a direct link to read it.
You have now created a link from your Facebook to your blog, and have immediately provided the link to tens, hundreds or thousands of people (depending on the size of your network). Some of those people may have friends considering LASIK so they copy it to them, someone may even reference it on other social media sites too. These “comments,” “posts,” and “retweets” eventually gets found by the Bots and you get extra “points” of relevance attached to your social media efforts around LASIK.
Additionally, to increase the number of people exposed to your post, you can directly request your friends “share” it with their networks too by messaging them – if a post is interesting enough, it can become “viral” and gain a life of it’s own where it is broadcast broadly from your post throughout many social media suites by thousands, potentially millions of people. If your post has the phrase “optometrist” and your city “Birmingham” within it, every time the Bots discover a link with those two phrases in it and it links to your blog, your blog becomes more relevant and is elevated in the search engine ranks. As a matter of fact, the Bots will find this post in the next 2-4 weeks. In the meantime I will link my practice blog to it and my post within SightNation will enable my blog to gain relevance points for “optometrist” in “Birmingham” and “intralase” as well. I will refer to this post in my blog, create links to this blog and my blog and website will benefit.
As I’ve discussed in my previous post on blogs, some content management systems (CMS), like Wordpress, allow you to add a blog post and when finished, click a button that publishes the post to your blog and your Facebook network at the same time! This diminishes the amount of work you have to put in to get your message out. I find this a helpful feature. And other sites like HootSuite allow you to manage multiple social media streams and blog posts together in one place.
Facebook offers you the opportunity to create a “Group” or a “Page” for your business, and this gives you the ability to separate your “social” Facebook group (friends and acquaintances) from people you want to market too. I suggest you set up a business Group and Page and delegate building the page or group followers to your staff. Whenever a new client or patient enters your practice, ask them if they are on Facebook and invite them to join. When you have practice news you can send it out with the click of a button instead of using postage and printing and a Facebook message is received much more eagerly than an unsolicited piece of mail.
Got a question on your own businesses social networking efforts? Don’t hesitate to ask!
- Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care
Twitter Handle: @EyeInfo