Help! I’m trying to get onto Facebook and I don’t know what to do,” is an all-too-familiar refrain from aesthetic practitioners trying to figure out how to use the popular social networking Web site. Each time I deliver a presentation on social networking and online marketing programs, I am inundated with follow-up questions and comments like the one above.
Although it may seem logical to ask your teenage son or daughter for remedial assistance, their understanding of Facebook is completely different from that of a business owner.
Your teenagers are on Facebook to keep up with their friends, see what others are posting on their walls, stalk their “frenemies,” and block their “enemies.” You are on Facebook to connect with patients and colleagues, and grow your practice’s visibility. Your missions are diametrically opposed.
For Facebook beginners, I suggest that you separate any personal Facebook page you may have from your professional Facebook page. To do this, go to the Facebook home page (www.facebook.com) and sign up as an individual (yourself), but not as “Dr John Doe,” “John Doe, MD,” or “John Doe Cosmetic Surgery,” etc. Your Facebook “profile” may be used for personal contacts only—your kids, family members, college roommates, and real friends.
Next, you or your staff or marketing team can start a business page and/or group for your practice. For example, to create a “page,” look for the link found on right side of the Facebook home page or on the lower left corner of your profile page. You can select Area and then choose one of these categories: Health and Beauty or Medical Service. Next, name your page—for example, “John Doe Cosmetic Surgery,” “John Doe MD, PC” or “Your New Face Clinic.”
Presto! You now have what is known in Facebook parlance as a fan page. Facebook users can opt in by clicking on the Facebook icon or bar that reads, “Become a Fan.” This is the most commonly used component of Facebook for medical practices, spas, and clinics.
WEB SITE EXTENSION
A Facebook page has evolved into an extension of your Web site or blog, and it can be useful as a platform in many ways. Primarily, it is a way to connect with patients and colleagues, and to generate exposure within a community that consists of 350 million users worldwide.
Your page can be personalized with a logo and your photo. Aesthetic practices have successfully used Facebook pages to promote services, display special offers, and announce open house events, as well as present before-and-after photos, video clips, blog posts, and media placements. In addition, you can start a forum discussion on your page to interface with your fans.
Facebook allows you to measure the ultimate success of your page via built-in analytics. On the left column of your page, there is a box called Insights that allows you to privately view your interactions, likes, comments, “wall posts,” and overall activity over time. These metrics enable you to see how you are doing. If the number of interactions remains flat or decreases, you are not creating content that your fans care about—they are not responding. The measure of a meaningful Facebook page is an increase in fan comments and a growing fan base.
See also “It’s a Marketing Jungle Out There” by Angela O’Mara in the April 2008 issue of PSP.
A common concern expressed by physicians who are new to Facebook is how to handle disgruntled patients or negative posts. Facebook gives you built-in tools to moderate and even delete comments that are inappropriate or false. When someone has posted a new comment, you or your designated “Facebook manager” can choose to receive e-mail alerts. However, it is up to you to either keep or delete posts and to check their content for appropriateness.
A word of warning about the use of personal profile pages for business purposes: Don’t do it. As I stated earlier, keep your personal Facebook pages separate from your business page.
As stated in the Facebook site’s rules: “Creating an unauthorized page violates our Statement of rights and responsibilities (www.facebook.com/terms.php). If you violate any of our terms or policies in any way, we may remove you as a page administrator, remove the page, and possibly disable your Facebook account.”
Trust me, Facebook means it. Its moderators will shut you down with no warning, and they are under no obligation to reinstate your account.
Wendy Lewis is president of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, a global aesthetics consulting firm, and the author of 10 books. She can be reached at www.wlbeauty.com.