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How to Build a Localized Online Community to Grow Your Practice

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Eye care practices, like any local business, thrive when they develop strong community ties

Eye care practices, like any local business, thrive when they develop strong community ties. As most communication takes place online—especially in these turbulent times of social distancing—building and engaging with an online community is a crucial aspect of your practice’s brand awareness (letting people know that you exist) and paves the way for new and returning patient appointments—what’s not to love?

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Want some help with your social media presence and practice growth? Talk to us!

But How Do You Use Social Media to

Become an Engaged Community Member?

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day...

To be an engaged community member, you’ll need a local online community first. You want to be following businesses and organizations in your industry and local community that are already active on social media.

Examples include other medical practices such as chiropractors, dentists and small medical offices (a community health approach); other small businesses, and non-profit organizations and groups that work to keep your community safe, healthy and happy. 

Figure 1: Local groups are a great way to connect with business owners in your area and perhaps even result in comarketing or collaborative opportunities.

It’s important to routinely follow businesses and groups that are in your industry, in your neighborhood, and that consist of your potential patients. As you continue to grow your following, you will be building a strong, diverse online community. Once you’ve found the people, it’s time to talk to ‘em!

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Figure 2: Join local parenting groups, non-profits, and any other groups where your ideal patient is likely to hang out. Parents with young children are a good group for most practices to engage with.

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Figure 3: Follow businesses that you work with frequently, businesses right near you, or even your favorite local soft-serve joint!

Engage Like You Care...
Cause you DO Care
Engagement occurs in 3 ways:
  1. Posting your own engaging, relevant content

  2. Responding to those who engage with your content

  3. Reaching out to engage with others content

 

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1. Post Your Own Content

To initiate engagement, make it your own content

Share what’s going on in your practice and behind the scenes, and talk about your staff and your patients (with their permission, of course!) For higher engagement, make sure to mention them when you post about them. Try to use video and relevant hashtags to boost engagement. 

Figure 4: This practice uses video to engage with their community, and showcases patient stories to capture interest. They also use relevant, local hashtags that target the community, parents, and local businesses.

Figure 5: This is another example of a practice engaging with the community by posting video on interesting, relevant topics.

2. Be Responsive

If someone asks you a question, answer it immediately.

If someone comments on your page, practice, or reacts to something you’ve said, respond. Treat your social platforms like you treat your live practice; be sociable, gracious, courteous, and engaging.

Learn more about engaging properly in this blog post  >

Figure 6:  Example: Here’s a great example of a practice reassuring its patients during tough COVID-19 times, using local hashtags. Note the level of engagement they received as well as their instant, courteous response.

Figure 7: In this post, our client announces to the community that they are reopening their practice after a significant closure due to COVID-19 lockdown. Note how they engage with every comment.

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3. And Go the extra mile—Cross Pollinization

Select a few groups or businesses every day

Like them, comment on, and share their content (even if they’ve never said boo to you). This helps you to be a friendly neighbor and increases overall goodwill in your community. You’ll be surprised- people will start responding, but even if they don’t, it makes you a Good Virtual Samaritan and others will see that. By engaging with other people’s content, you also get great exposure to their followers.

Figure 8: Our client makes sure to @mention the organization they are thanking to increase goodwill and exposure.

Figure 9:This practice used Facebook’s Check-In feature which allows you to share when you are at another local business, giving both businesses engagement and publicity.

3b. Think Local, #SupportLocal

Show your support for local businesses by using the #supportlocalbusiness hashtag, your location hashtags, and tagging local businesses using the @mention feature. Liking, posting and sharing on local business pages and groups gives your practice exposure to more local followers. By sharing and commenting, you’re more likely to have your content posted and shared in turn.

Figure 10: Our client uses the @mention feature to notify the business they are supporting, as well as relevant local hashtags so they will rank for local searches

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“We’ve teamed up with Harrys&Co for a Summer Sale. Save 50% on all Harrys&Co menswear purchases AND when you one pair of Our Practice’s sunglasses, get one free! #Harrys&PracticeSummerSale

Pro tip:

Collaboration is Key

Collaborate with local businesses on events or sales. This allows you to market to each other’s audience.

Keep following people and engaging with others by liking, sharing, commenting and collaborating. You will increase your brand awareness as your name pops up on your followers feeds more frequently. 

As your brand awareness rises, your engagement with others will increase and lead to more patient appointments. In the process, you will be building a strong, tight-knit community comprised of connected, engaged, and respectful members who will support each other no matter what happens next.

 

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Want some help with your social media presence and practice growth? Just fill out the form to get the conversation started.

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