The Five Things You DON'T Want To Do With Your ECP Facebook Page

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By Bob Main

Building and managing a Facebook page for your ECP practice or optical company can seem confusing and overwhelming. But it doesn't really need to be. There are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind when building your Facebook page that will make it a winning site that can be used as a powerful tool to help grow your optical practice/business. Here are five things you definitely want to avoid.

1. Don't Ignore It

One of the most important social media goals you should have is to get patients (and prospective patients) to "engage" with your Facebook page. By that, I mean that they actually post a comment on your Facebook page in response to something you posted. This is great when it happens because it demonstrates people are reading the material you post and it is interesting to them. To encourage more people to comment on your posts, and to reward them for taking the time to comment, be sure to respond to their comment in a timely manner (see example of a conversation thread). The key word here is "timely." A prompt response to their comment shows that your practice is interested in "being social" with them. A slow response tends to demonstrate that your practice is not really interested in an "online conversation." The rule of thumb is that all comments need a response within 6 hours (business hours). I also recommend that someone in the practice/business monitor the Facebook page during non-business hours so responses don't take days to happen. To efficiently track and know when people post on your Facebook page, without physically constantly checking Facebook, use online tools such as TweetDeck.com or Yoono.com. These free online tools (downloadable to your computer), once properly set up, will give you a real-time, running news feed of people as they comment on your posts. These programs can also be set up to monitor your Twitter account and many other social media sites.

2. Don't Let The Banner Get Lost

The banner, in the upper left-hand part of your page, is part of the most important "real estate" on your Facebook page. When someone is visiting your page for the first time, they may only give it a few seconds to communicate to them what you do and if they should spend more time looking around the site. The maximum size for the banner is 180 pixels by 540 pixels. Most sites are only using a portion of this space (see example). Since this area can be a "billboard" that communicates a quick story about your practice/business, take advantage of this space. Have your banner professionally designed, and give its content a lot of thought. It should contain photos or graphics of "what you do". For example, if you primarily sell eyeglasses, have a high resolution photo of a stylish frame.

3. Don't let the top photos become a distraction

Probably the most ignored part of most Facebook pages are the photos at the top. This is also prime real-estate on your page. They should quickly communicate what you do and project an image about your practice/business. You can control what photos are displayed in this area by clicking on the photo albums section and "hiding" the photos from the display area that are not supporting what you are visually trying to communicate on the page. Additionally, most photos that are displayed in this area are too big for the section.

Photos that are to be displayed here should be resized to about 100 pixels by 100 pixels. Use a photo editing program (such as PhotoShop or SnagIt.com) to resize the photos. This will insure that all of the photos are visible and not truncated.

4. Don't ignore the "info" tab

Many times people come to your Facebook page for "contact information" about your practice/business. The "info tab" (located in the left navigation area under the banner) is the logical place to put this information on a basic Facebook page. Be sure to populate this area with your hours of operation, phone numbers, address, practice specialties, etc. Check the map that is pre-loaded into this section by default. Be sure it is correctly displaying your location. A more user-friendly option is to turn off the default map and insert a Google Maps locator (see Google Map Maker). This will allow visitors the ability to get detailed directions from their house to your practice, and they can print out the directions.

5. Don't forget the reason people are on Facebook

Facebook can be a very valuable relationship marketing tool, if used properly. But the key is to recognize that people are on Facebook to "be social". They are engaging in online conversations with their friends, relatives. They are exchanging photos of the grandkids and talking about the restaurant they went to last night. They are not on Facebook to get a sales pitch. Your Facebook page and the content posted should do one of 4 things: be engaging, be educational, be informative and/or entertaining. This includes holding contests, posting trivia, posting eyecare information; perhaps photos of new frames you are carrying, etc. Go to WildfireApp.com and TabsSite.com to design applications and tabs for your Facebook page. Posts such as "have a good weekend" probably don't fit into any of these four categories. If posts are not engaging, entertaining, informative or educational; people will un-follow your Facebook page and your practice will lose the opportunity to stay connected with them.

Don't get overwhelmed or discouraged with the process of managing your Facebook page. Knowing and following a few simple guidelines, like these five, will allow you to attract and engage with more patients and prospective patients. The end result is that you will have a powerful tool to stay connected with your patients while they are "outside of the buying cycle."

Bob Main is an optical industry veteran, with over 25 years of retail optical experience and the last six years specifically engaged in internet marketing and social media. As an Internet Business Coach/Consultant, Bob's blog offers ECPs and optical retailers the information they need to learn how to grow their practice/business using the power of the internet. Bob can be reached at bob@BobMainConsulting.com.