Spend enough time on Facebook , and you’ll grow numb to much of what makes it Facebook. Cat memes, unsolicited political rants, your aunt’s recipe for quiche Lorraine, that Buzzfeed article about “The 12 Most Outrageous Balloon Animals You’ve Ever Seen” which has been shared by a different friend every day for the last week. And don’t forget the ads. When you get right down to it, Facebook can feel like a sea of sameness. Which is why it’s more important than ever for businesses that rely on the social medium to swim against the current.
In the 10-plus years of Facebook’s existence, social media marketers have established a few best practices for businesses. Research them and you’ll find a few common threads, including my personal pet peeve: Broadcasting. As someone with nearly a decade’s worth of experience in social marketing, few Facebook behaviors are more disappointing to me than seeing a local small business ambush me with a flowery sales pitch or some puffery about their brand. In their haste to make a buck or inflate their rep, they’ve completely missed the point of Facebook – that it’s supposed to be social, not a conduit for e-commerce. And this mistake apparently happens often. According to Business News Daily, the No. 1 gaffe that businesses make on Facebook is neglecting to interact and engage with their audience.
If you’re doing the marketing for your eyecare practice or eyewear boutique, then “recognize that people go to Facebook to make a connection or feel like part of a community,” as marketing strategist Andy Smith tells American Express OPEN Forum. By consistently interacting and engaging with those who follow your page, you’ll build loyalty among your customers and possibly make converts out of the ones who aren’t. That’s not to say you should never announce a new product or include a link to the order form of your website, but do it too often, and you’ll wade into the sea of news feed sameness. Folks will just instinctively ignore you like they do the Buzzfeed article that just won’t die. Or worse yet, they’ll just the cord altogether and unlike your page, at which point you’ll probably never win them back.
Here’s a great example of one ECP who understands how to connect with its Facebook audience.
Lynn Valley Optometry, a full-service practice located in British Columbia, Canada, has one of the more robust Facebook pages that I’ve seen in the industry thanks to a strategy that encourages interaction and engagement. Case in point, LVO held a Halloween costume contest for its youth patients, inviting them into the store to have their photo taken, which was then posted in a photo album on the page. The patient whose costume received the most likes would be awarded a Zoomer Boomer Robot Dinosaur. (Google it. It’s pretty cool.) The adorable princess shown here in the bottom right corner was the lucky winner with 98 likes, plus a handful of comments and shares.
Then about three weeks before Christmas, LVO announced a “Christmas Tree Decoration Contest” that awarded candy gift baskets to those who correctly answered eye health-related trivia questions. If multiple people answered correctly, a winner was determined via random.org and a screenshot was posted. Brilliant. It looked like this:
Both of these contests are examples of how to draw attention to your business without broadcasting your products and services to whomever’s within your blast radius. Take a gander at the rest of the practice’s timeline, and you’ll notice that LVO does post about sales and products, but they’re infrequent and often come between other posts that are educational or interactive. LVO also keeps regular contact with its audience, posting at least once each week. The result is a page with a solid following (1,268 likes at the time of this writing) compared to its industry peers, and one that fosters a sense of community that extends beyond the walls of the practice.