An Independent Optometrist asked me:

“I practice in a rural area and most young adults (18-30 years) have moved to the city. How can I know whether my patients use any social media?

I like this question. It’s great that this Optometrist wants to be where his patients spend time online.

Here’s four ways to find your patients online.

Facebook Audience Insights

Do you know what the population is in your area? For example, you might practice in a town of 10,000 people.

If you have a rough idea, you can compare this number to the number of people on Facebook in your area.

You can go to Facebook Audience Insights )

Under Location, type your practice town, and any nearby towns that patients often travel from. (For example, I practice in Colac, Victoria and patients attend from about a 50km (30mi) radius.)

By default, the age group selected is 18 and over. Facebook allows accounts with parent supervision as young as 13 years.

Then you can see the proportion of your area that use Facebook each month. For example, one local town may have over 6,000 people who use Facebook every month.

Use your website

To find out which patients are on Facebook, you can also use your website. You put a paragraph of code on your website, known as a Pixel, and then see how many people visit your website.

This is a great way to track people coming from:

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google

And it’s free!

For example, if I visit your website, the website code recognises that I’m signed into Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on my computer (or smartphone).

Over time, your website starts to build a number of people who’ve visited. For example, you may have 400 visits from Facebook, 200 from LinkedIn and 100 from Twitter.

You can compare these numbers to see which networks are the most popular with your patients.

 

Use your current patient database

Did you know that you can use your existing patient database for online marketing?

You can find out the percentage of people who use different social networks.

Facebook (and Instagram) has the most number of options to find patients. This includes:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • City
  • State
  • Postcode (or ZIP)
  • Mobile number
  • Email address

When you use a list like this, Facebook encrypts it before uploading. Data is then deleted when the process is completed.

Recently I was helping an Independent Optometrist to match patients on Facebook. When we used all this data to match, we found that over 71% of patients over the age of 13 use Facebook. This is a great match rate.  And this Optometrist is in a rural practice!

Another practice that I help has over 64% of patients on Facebook. This is still a good number of patients.

Twitter allows you to match patients too. However, the matching options are limited to Mobile Number and Email Address.

Other social networks such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google allow you to match patients only with Email Address. However, I tend to find that patients are more willing to give you their mobile number than an email address.

Survey

One of your key advantages as a local business owner, is that you see patients face-to-face everyday. For one month, ask every patient which social network they use. You’ll find some great insights, including people who say “I love Instagram”, or “I only use LinkedIn once per week”.

See if your survey matches the data that you get from your website or patient database.

You’ll find some very useful insights to help you with your marketing.

Conclusion

You don’t have to guess whether patients use social media. Use these four tools to find out where they are. Then choose the most popular network, and spend a lot of time there. You’ll get to know what patients like. And you’ll be more efficient with your time online.