Social media celebrates its 25th birthday this year. Amazingly, social media was not invented by Mark Zuckerberg – he was just a fresh faced teenager in middle school at its advent in 1997.
Anything celebrating a quarter century tells me it probably isn’t a fad, no matter how much you might not be a fan of the concept.
Yes, I know many of you hate using social media to promote your dental practice, because you guys tell me All. The. Time.
Sure, there are plenty of dentists who love social media and how it lets them engage with their audience in real time, or even just use it to connect on a personal level with friends, but there are just as many dentists who feel like it’s a giant time-suck and a serious distraction for their team. Still, just like eating your broccoli or joining a gym, it’s good for you.
YES, YOU NEED SOCIAL MEDIA.
Dental social media has the unique ability to change people’s minds. Simply by pulling back the curtain on the people and environment in which you care for your patients, you can change the perception of your dental practice from something potentially scary and intimidating, into an environment filled with patients and team members who can’t stop smiling, all because people feel they know you on a personal level.
To truly appreciate why social media is important to your dental marketing plans, you must first understand its true purpose. While it can be used to generate new patients, its primary intention is to help establish and cultivate your dental brand.
When I say “dental brand,” did your mind immediately go to your logo?
Sure, that’s part of your branding strategy, but real branding comes from modifying the public’s perception of who you are.
Every time someone hears your practice name, they are immediately influenced by the friends who have spoken of you (positively or negatively), the reviews they may have read online, and especially by the engagement they may have experienced on social media.
Social media allows you to directly influence the optics of your practice. Well crafted messaging may showcase you as open, funny, engaging, serious, or even mischievous.
THIS is how you communicate your true brand. Your logo is simply a graphic representation of what that brand personality truly is.
Now that we agree on what social media marketing for dental practices is meant to do, let’s break down the biggest objections I hear, and see if I can change your mind.
THERE’S A NEW SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM EVERY WEEK.
DO I HAVE TO POST ON ALL OF THEM?
Well, there might not be a new one every week, though it can certainly feel that way. With 17 social media platforms boasting at least 300 million users worldwide, it can feel difficult to focus on just a select few.
The secret to choosing your preferred social platforms lies in understanding who your audience is.
TikTok might be crazy popular right now, but that does not mean it’s where you want to invest your time – unless that’s where your audience is. If you are seeking older adults with restorative needs, head to Facebook.
If you want to attract 30-40 year old professionals who care about their appearance, Instagram is your jam. If you offer complex full mouth makeovers, you can bet your audience is doing their homework, and will probably be exploring explainer videos on YouTube.
Know your audience, and match it to each platform’s demographics for the greatest reach.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS FOR ATTENTION SEEKERS.
I’M JUST NOT THAT PERSON.
Look, I get it. It’s hard to act like a social butterfly when you’re more of a social recluse. However, your patients are addicted to their social media feeds, and they genuinely want a peek behind the curtain to see what’s going on in your practice.
You are the face of your brand.
That does not, however, mean that you have to create and upload every post.
I recommend tapping the extroverts in your practice to manage your social media. These charmers think nothing of asking a patient to participate in a fun selfie, or to record a lip sync video.
Every few posts, you should be featured as the face of the practice so that prospective patients can see who you are and what you might be like in person. Keep in mind, you do not have to change your personality. Be who you are. Just let the rest of the world in.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS A HUGE DISTRACTION FOR MY TEAM.
If you’re concerned that your team already spends too much time on their phone instead of with patients, your issue should not be with your social media presence, but with yourself as a leader who allows it to happen.
By choosing one or two dedicated social media ambassadors in your practice, and by providing clear guidelines about when and how engagement is allowed, you should not experience an increase in phone addicted zombies, shuffling head down towards a treatment room with a patient in tow.
What’s important to remember is that social media isn’t going away. Twenty-five years of growth have proved that.
Whether you agree with the concept or not, your patients spend nearly three hours a day just perusing their social media accounts as a sort of “news feed” (apologies to fans of proper journalism, I know it doesn’t compare).
The question is, do you want to be in the news and influencing the conversation, or would you just rather pout about having to take a selfie or two? Join in, you just might like it after all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Xaña Winans is the CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, a dental marketing company dedicated to the growth of dental practices throughout North America. Founded in 2001, her agency provides strategy driven, full service solutions including branding, internal marketing, advertising and digital marketing.
Goal driven results are at the heart of everything she creates.
Her passion for constant and never ending improvement led her to develop Smart Market Dental, the first dental marketing software designed to tie individual marketing strategies to resulting patients.
The ability to measure marketing ROI in real time holds her agency to a higher standard, driving continuous improvement of their work.
Xaña is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and lectures nationally on the topic of dental marketing.
She publishes regularly in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics, and is a frequent guest on industry podcasts.