8 simple tips for mastering social media

By now, you know social media can be a great tool for boosting your business, connecting with other professionals and staying up to date on news.

But many ODs still wonder: Where do I begin? How do I expand my presence? Start with the tips and best practices below.

1. Create accounts for your practice

It's smart to create separate social media accounts for your practice rather than using your personal accounts. For example, on Facebook, create a business page, which allows people to "like" the page, rather than having to "friend" you personally. On Twitter and LinkedIn, create profiles for your practice, too.

2. Keep it professional

When you're online, use the same professional judgment you use offline. Avoid harassment, negative comments about staff or patients, and any other unprofessional activities. To help, the AOA Ethics & Values Committee has crafted recommendations for optometrists.

3. Be accurate

Sharing the latest research with your patients and colleagues? Carefully pick your sources for credibility and accuracy. "Once it is out there, it is out there!" notes Barbara L. Horn, O.D., a member of the AOA Board of Trustees who uses Facebook to market her practice.

4. Respect privacy

Always be mindful of HIPAA regulations. You can discuss your experience, but never identify a patient or share a photo that could identify them. Always respect patient confidentiality and protect patient privacy.

5. Engage with your audience

Ask questions. Share the latest information and practical tips that help educate your patients and the community, and they'll view you as a great resource. Most of all, listen to what your audience is saying—and respond when possible.

6. Market your business

Advertise specials and discounts, promote events, share awards or community service efforts, and use social media to provide customer service in real time.

7. Network with fellow ODs

Establish relationships with fellow optometrists, health organizations and health associations on social media. For example, follow them on Twitter, and they are more likely to follow you back. Once you establish relationships on social media, the people on the other end of those relationships will reciprocate by sharing your content.

8. Stay in touch with colleagues and classmates

For example, Dr. Horn has created a Facebook page for her class from optometry school. She and classmates use the page to plan meetings, share advice from their practices, and work on job placements for fellow ODs and staff members.

February 24, 2014

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