Social media is a topic at the top of mind of most dental professionals who want to stay relevant in today’s market. However, the endless articles, videos, pro tips, and research are enough to leave any busy dentist’s head spinning.
Many dentists, overwhelmed by the thought of developing a social media plan, become immobilized and default to a few Facebook posts here and there. Or, they outsource their accounts to a company that really doesn’t know the dentistry market.
Here’s a secret: social media doesn’t need to be hard. It does not need to be seen as a complicated way to get people into the sales funnel. If you want to be successful on social media, view it as another way for you to simply make connections with your current and future patients. That’s it. No hard-selling tactics, no tricky strategy to sell full-mouth reconstructions, but a fun and easy way to talk to and connect with people.
Businesses share information with their customers and potential customers through the digital marketing triangle, which includes website searches, social media, and online reviews (see the Figure). Each point takes time, and it is important to allocate your time and resources wisely.
Typically, social media requires the most time on the part of the dental office. However, dental offices don’t need to necessarily be active on all social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Focusing on one, like Facebook, often will benefit the office greatly.
But isn’t Facebook dying, you may ask? While it may seem Facebook’s popularity is waning with the younger generation, older adults are steadily increasing their use, and Facebook continues to trump all other social sites in overall usage.
Need more evidence? A billion people worldwide use Facebook every day! Facebook is also the most trusted source when it comes to reviews. In fact, 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a local business if they see positive user reviews on the company’s Facebook page. Why? People trust people they know. The Facebook network is built upon friends and acquaintances, exactly those whom people go to for trusted advice.
Facebook understands this concept. To make it easier for people to make recommendations to their friends, users can now turn on a feature when posting a status update that is designed to allow friends to provide specific recommendations. When turned on, the requester will get the full name, address, map, and contact information of the businesses their friends suggest!
Patients don’t choose a new dentist based on clinical skill. They make the choice based on the experience of others (especially people they know and trust) and their insurance. The Facebook recommendations feature is perfect for finding a new dentist and getting new patients in your chair!
How to Set Your Office Up for Success
To capitalize on all Facebook has to offer, make sure to complete these four steps: create a great page; put someone in charge; share valuable content; and measure success.
So what makes a great Facebook page? It should be inviting. People should want to follow you on social media. Post fun pictures of your team, and make sure your information is complete and up to date.
As a business page, it does not have “friends” but has followers, fans, and likes to show engagement. It also allows publishing of important items like your business hours, phone number, a map to your location, photos and videos, patient reviews, and special offers and services.
You can also set up a “Book Now” feature that allows people to book appointments right from the page. People are already on social media. Now they can book dentist appointments at the same time.
Once you have a working business page, it is wise to put someone in charge of managing, updating, and posting. This person should be the one in the office who lives and breathes social media, someone who checks Facebook before they even get out of bed in the morning. Chances are good there is someone exactly right for the job already on the team.
So with the overwhelming amount of information that circulates the internet, how does a dental office rise above the noise? The best strategy to ensure content is seen is to utilize existing patients. When patients engage with content, it is more likely to be seen by their friends and followers. DentalPost.net follows these guidelines when developing shareworthy content:
- Content provides value: The content should be worth the patient’s time. Before posting, always ask: “Will this post improve patients’ lives?”
- Content is personal: Social media provides a sense of community. Focus on the needs and interests of the patient, not the dental office.
- Content should invite interaction: Fan participation is key. Give followers a good reason to like, share, or comment. Try adding in a contest or tying something charitable to the content.
- Content is visually appealing: Use solid graphics, videos, and photos in everything that gets posted. Posts that are more attractive are favored by social media algorithms and are therefore seen by more people.
- Content should be fun: Get creative! If the team is having fun, the patients will too.
Here are several options for shareworthy content you can and should employ in the office:
- Before and after photos: Be sure not to violate HIPPA, and get consent from the patient prior to posting. Also, only show before and after shots that are patient-friendly. Graphic images of procedures are a huge no-no. Show patients that dentistry involves more than staring into mouths all day.
- Patient reviews: Patient reviews are one of the best ways to share office success. Services like RevenueWell and DemandForce will survey patients, and their answers can be posted to Facebook in a single click. Third-party endorsements are huge in our field, so make sure you take advantage of them. A lot of patients would be honored to be a part of your dental family.
- Contests and promotions: A great way to get patients to help others see content is through contests and promotions. Offer a valuable service and ask people to share with their friends and family. When the office posts, it is seen by 12% of the office’s followers. When a post is shared, it is seen by 26%.
- Patient photos and videos: People love to see themselves online. Once a release form has been signed, start featuring cavity-free kids or patients who have had a particularly great experience in the office. It is perfectly okay to show off your hard work and theirs too!
- Team events and activities: Patients want to know about you and your team. They trust people they feel comfortable around. By sharing images of the team having fun, participating in charity events, and doing things outside of the office, the page can help build trust.
- Dental articles: There is always shareworthy content written and published online. To get an alert each time something noteworthy is published, set up Google alerts. If you have a Gmail account, you can set up to a thousand dental terms. When an article is published online about the topic, the link will come directly to your inbox. So, if you want to educate your patients about oral cancer, you can have everything written and published in real time sent to you. You can read through the options and post the most shareworthy content for your followers.
After all the hard work spent on building an engaging page and promoting shareworthy content, it is important to know if your efforts are successful. Facebook has a built-in system to show how engaged followers have been. The tools on your Facebook business page will give you a breakdown of reach, likes, and all other forms of engagement. It’s important to see how your hard work is paying off, and the time spent engaging on social media is worth it.
Spotlighting Your Values
Being a dental hygienist for 23 years and temping in more than 100 offices gave me the opportunity to see some great offices as well as offices that were not run well. This enabled me to understand what the best practices were doing and how they were successful. I took what I learned through these offices and applied it to my experience in building DentalPost.
The teams that were the most successful were the ones who placed their core values at the forefront. Utilizing social media is a great way to share your practice’s culture and core values with the public. Spotlight your team’s personalities. Involve everyone on the team, including patients.
Facebook is a great way to begin a social media journey. The interface is easy to use, and most patients and potential patients are already checking in on Facebook daily. Use the platform to befriend, educate, and connect with people instead of a way to simply sell services, and watch the office reputation and schedule expand.
Ms. Lanthier is the founder and CEO of DentalPost, which she started in 2005. Since then, the company has grown into a networking community for more than 750,000 dental professionals and 38,000 dental offices. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a supporter of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Give Back a Smile program, and a volunteer at several charitable organizations including Georgia Mission of Mercy and the Ben Mansell Clinic. And, she is a board member of the Oral Cancer Cause and Dental Entrepreneur Women. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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