|SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
Here are some points you can consider for your practice’s social media policy:
Use email, social media, and patient portals wisely and keep your practice’s electronic subscription rates up.
With businesses increasing their use of electronic communications to stay connected with their customers, keeping users from opting out is a prime concern, one which certainly applies to optical shops. Check out the strategies that ECPs can employ in three web-based mediums to ensure that patients are opting in and staying engaged.
Don’t send more than one email a month. These days, patients get a massive amount of electronic communications daily so don’t overwhelm them. When patients check in for their appointments, give them a general idea of what the office emails are going to include and get their feedback on what they would like to see. This is also a great way for staff to talk enthusiastically about the practice while they collect email addresses. Consider having your email in the form of a newsletter and include such things as healthcare tips, interesting facts, healthy recipes, and recognition of community events and people.
Emails can also be used in a more personal manner-to send a birthday, anniversary, or congratulations note, for example. This is a convenient way to send an invitation to a special event your office may be having. Again, it is important to make sure these emails are personal. This will take some more time and planning, but it will lead to increased patient loyalty.
It is important for your practice to promote your social media pages, such as Facebook and Instagram, to convince the patients to opt in by “following” and “liking.” And having a policy about it is essential since your social media posts will be available for the entire world to see (see “Social Media Policy,” below). It is very inexpensive to promote a page and/or a post, and in doing so will create likes/followers and become more attractive to the viewers.
Don’t over post and don’t post opinions about politics or current events as this can really turn patients off and they will opt out. Keep the posts interesting and encourage them to respond. Social media is all about interaction, not one-way communication. Conduct an interesting poll a few times per year and ask questions that require responses. This is also a great way to better understand your patients and their expectations. Another creative way to keep your patients engaged via social media is to have fun with YouTube. A user can easily make a YouTube video go viral by creating fun clips such as commercials or informational/educational videos. You can use the videos in different ways, too.
Link a three-minute interview about the doctor to the practice webpage and post it on Facebook. The video should be lighthearted and showcase the doctor’s personality; ask questions such as, “Who is your favorite children’s movie character and why?,” “Where is your favorite restaurant?,” and “What do you like to do for fun?”
Film a Happy Birthday video. This should be a short 15-to-20 second video that will create a smile. Have different office people participate in surprising ways. Then text or email this video link to your patients on their birthday, and you can be guaranteed they will remember you. Imagine when they view this fun birthday video when they are around friends and family; most of them will be proud to say, “This was from my eye doctor!”
Part of healthcare reform requires a practice to have a certain percentage of patients actively utilizing their patient portal. The biggest challenge facing ECPs is successfully engaging patients and ensuring that they don’t opt out. To do this, educate your patients about all of the portals’s features and benefits. Let them know this is a great tool that allows them to keep track of their eyecare and health history. Consider having patients make their own appointments through the portal.
The most successful way to keep patients from opting out is to create compelling content that doesn’t overwhelm them in terms of volume or frequency. They more they opt in, the better it is for you!
Mark Johnson is the Director of Optical Services at Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond, VA.