Some people are intimidated by Twitter simply because they don’t understand how the microblogging/social media network works. However, if you’ve identified that your patients-your main audience and ultimate target-are spending time on Twitter, then it’s a social networking platform that you should start using to directly engage with your current and potential patient and manufacturer base.

Twitter users find the platform beneficial because it’s a constant, endless source of useful information. In order to make Twitter work for your eyecare practice, you need to think strategically about when and what to post.

Keep in mind that the time of day matters. What’s the best time to reach your intended audience? See a major trending conversation happening in real time? Jump in with your own spin on it. Got some evergreen information to share (otherwise known as content)? Go ahead! Don’t be afraid to have fun on Twitter, as long as you stay “on brand,” meaning stay true to your business’ image and philosophy.

One of the best things about Twitter is that it allows you to cultivate your business’ brand voice. Embrace this opportunity to create a dialogue with your patients and those interested in what you have to share.

Don’t know what to tweet about? Entertain your followers with fun, interesting posts. Announce holidays or anniversaries, if applicable. Get people’s attention quickly with short questions or sentences. If you’re posting a link, briefly explain what they’ll find there. Lead them to the pot of gold.

Twitter used to just contain brief 140-character messages but it recently implemented a heavier visual focus, allowing previews of photos on its timeline. Use this to your advantage and let pictures tell your story. Photos will now make your tweets stand out on Twitter.

But most importantly, the point of Twitter is to engage in conversation. It can be used as a customer service tool to resolve complaints. Or you can answer questions tweeted at you, which is great because it shows your patients that you’re listening and are present to serve them and their needs.

As you venture off into the Twitterverse, remember to know your audience. Give them what they want and need-don’t just self-promote all the time. If you constantly sound like a sales pitch, you run the risk of followers/users tuning you out, or worse… actually unfollowing you.

Remember these tactics the next time you set off to tweet on behalf of your practice. And don’t forget to enjoy the interaction that Twitter provides-that’s what it’s there for, so keep the conversation going!

Ana Montoya is Social Media Director at First Vision Media Group.

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