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Getting social: Kirk & Kirk co-founder, Jason Kirk, offers tips on how to communicate effectively on social media.

Like it or loathe it, social media is now a hugely important part of customer interaction, for brands and opticians alike.

When a consumer decides that they require a sight test or some new glasses, the first thing they do is jump online and search for something --practice or frame--that tickles their fancy.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram--each serve a slightly different purpose, but they are all essential tools that should be combined with your business' website in order to attract and encourage consumers through your door.

All too often I hear phrases such as: "Social media has nothing to do with optics," or "It takes too long when I could be doing other things." No excuses please.

There are no two ways about it. Practices need to be communicating regularly, consistently and effectively on social media because that is where your customers are.

Customers will no longer necessarility discover an opticians because they walked past the practice while out shopping. Today they find you on Instagram, for example, and from the images they see, then decide whether to visit.

How to use social media

You should start by thinking about who you want to target. Then you can begin to think about what content will interest them and where they will want to consume this content.

If you attract their attention online, they will visit your website to find out more about what you offer, so make sure your website is up to date, attractive and gives the correct information.

Many opticians worry about content. What are you going to say on Facebook and what pictures do you put up on Instagram are both common concerns.

I think that's easy--you have a store full of frames and patients coming in, so take some pictures and share them on social media. Failing that, all of the frame brands that you carry should have stock photographs of their collections, so essentially they can provide the content.

I can assure you that being active on social media does not need to take up a lot of time. There are apps available where you can schedule posts, allowing you to plan and schedule all of your posts. This means that time could simply be allocated once a week for social media activity.

It's fun, not frightening

Using social media channels may feel daunting at first, but once you start, it is easy and enjoyable. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a regular presence so that your name and the unique reasons for why customers should visit you are constantly visible.

Above all, make sure that your communication has a recognisable 'voice' so that people equate your style with your store. And, if you really don't want to do it yourself, there are companies who will handle your social media for you. It does not need to be expensive, and the rewards are quickly evident. Have fun. Social media is here to be enjoyed.

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Title Annotation:How do I ...
Author:Kirk, Jason
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2016
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