Optometry Australia has been sharing more news on Facebook and Twitter, in an effort to build its online presence and connect with members who are active on the web.
The move comes as many optometrists and practice owners have begun ramping up their use of social media to strengthen relationships with their patients and people in their local communities.
The managing director of Marketown Optical in Newcastle, optometrist Dom Willson, started a Facebook page for his practice without a clear idea of how it would be used but it has become an important part of his marketing strategy.
The staff shares responsibility for updating the page, with each staff member having different interests and ideas for what should feature.
Mr Willson said their Facebook page was intended to build their reputation as part of the community, not to sell products.
‘That’s the facet of our marketing that’s important to us—it’s not to be just some anonymous corporate that’s landed from Sydney and has set up a branch. We want people to realise that we’re all real people with real faces,’ he said.
Marketown Optical has not modelled its online strategy on any particular Facebook page but it sometimes sources ideas and content from other practices.
‘We Like other optometrists’ pages and sometimes one of them will put up an interesting post and we’ll share it or copy it. The great thing about optometry is that it’s pretty collegiate,’ Mr Willson said.
Nikola Kokkinakis, practice manager of The Eye Practice in Sydney, has had many people in the profession call her for advice on how to use social media.
The Eye Practice has about 550 Likes on its Facebook page. It’s not many but as Ms Kokkinakis sees it, these are good quality Likes because the Facebook page is particularly interactive.
‘We haven’t done any Facebook advertising and we certainly haven’t bought any Likes. I don’t need 60,000 Likes, because they’re not going to be any good to me,’ Ms Kokkinakis said.
The Eye Practice maintains Facebook information pages for keratoconus and dry eye disease, which attract web users from around the world.
It also has a Pinterest account, which is a platform for sharing pictures, and a fledgling Instagram account, where it has uploaded images of new frames and sunglasses.
Ms Kokkinakis curates all the content for all these accounts and schedules her posts two weeks in advance.
Both Marketown Optical and The Eye Practice have responded to queries they had received from patients via social media.
Ms Kokkinakis said some of their patients use Facebook messenger to contact them, which they encourage.
‘If it’s 10:00 pm and your contact lens is stuck in your eye and your eye is hurting, you can contact us through messenger. We’ve had that happen quite a few times, even when we’re away,’ she said.
While Ms Kokkinakis acknowledges it is hard work for optometrists to manage social media on their own, she believes there is no easy way out if you really want to promote your practice.
‘We’ve found that yes, you can pay someone to do it; yes, you can employ a staff member to do it, but at the end of the day, it’s not your staff member’s practice, it’s your practice,’ she said.
‘We’ve never employed anyone to do it because I’ve found that it needs to have a little bit of me, otherwise it becomes too sterile,’ she said.