How You Can Start a World-Wide Movement
Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford
I don’t want this to sound too conceited, so I’ll put it this way: Foursquare Day is the one day a year that I get to feel like a rock star. I get interviewed by lots of people. I get to be in the paper and on TV. I get to hangout with the Mayor. Women want to have their picture taken with me. I don’t let it all go to my head by remembering that it is just for one day - April 16th.
It honestly is pretty great, but it wasn’t exactly easy. It was a combination of an idea, timing, passion, leadership, and luck. However, while my story is unique, the core principles can apply to you in finding ways to promote your practice.
Back in 2009, I became enamored with the location-based service application, foursquare. I knew that foursquare adoption rates would likely increase and I wanted to be ahead of the curve. The first day we were able to use foursquare in Tampa, I wrotethisonmyblog. I tried to come up with catchy ways to use this new technology to promote my practice. I thought it was clever that that since 4 squared equals 16, 4/16 or April 16th would be a perfect “FoursquareDay” event at the office. In internet jargon, this has become known as “4sqDay.”
On the first 4sqDay 2010, 15,000 people in 300 communities around the world participated. And, yes, we did have people come to office on 4/16 specifically to take part in our Foursquare Day special on glasses. The following year, in 2011, it was an even bigger global event with over 3 million foursquare check ins. (You can read more in a recent interview I gave with Forbes.)
The 4sqDay community continues to grow. This year we had over 700 global events, with lots of pictures and videos made by fans. 4sqDay has an active community of over 7,500 Twitterfollowers and 10,000 Facebook Likes. We have volunteers that post 4sqDay content onInstagram and Pinterest.
Why it worked
There were many elements that made 4sqDay successful:
What is your 4sqDay?
What do you like? Dogs? Antique planes? Golf? One of the great things about the new tools of social media is that it doesn’t matter. Anything can catch on and be successful if the right idea finds the right group of people. You can use social media to connect with others that share your passions and use this increase the awareness of you and your practice. It may not directly translate into immediate sales, but it can literally raise your profile, which increases both word-of-mouth referrals and search engine optimization for your practice.
Here are some examples from my experience to help you transform your interests into something exciting online:
I am not guaranteeing that you’ll be able to create a semi-official global holiday. After all, I’ve only done that once and I’ve been using the internet for over 20 years. However, I hope that you see this as an example that if you are passionate and creative, you can use social media to create something amazing. And not only will it be a lot of fun, you and your practice will benefit as a result.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, Fla., is an optometrist specializing in the vision of infants and children. A social media evangelist, "Dr. Nate" has been a speaker at two CLICK Conferences: September 2011 and September 2010. He blogs to eyecare professionals about social media and practice management at Review of Optometric Business. Heis a member of the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Developmentand is chair of the Florida Optometric Association's Children's Vision Committee. He founded Foursquare Day in March 2010.
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