The power of social networking has grown so much, especially over the last decade, that the number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 3.02 billion monthly active social media users by 2021. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn allow for excellent marketing opportunities for dentists, who are looking to promote their independent dental practice. Like any business, if your dental practice doesn’t have an online presence in this digital age then you might as well not exist!
This might sound a bit dramatic but people are using the internet and search engines, like Google, every day to search for services near them. If they can’t find your practice then it will become increasingly difficult to engage new prospective patients to your dental practice.
According to DentistryiQ:
“Potential patients are increasingly embracing social networks as an integral part of their everyday lives. The interesting part is that the phenomenon is no longer restricted to the young. Even the over-50 population is joining social networking in staggering numbers.”
Firstly, here is a list of WHY your dental practice should be using social media:-
- It increases awareness of your dental practice
- It widens your audience reach and potential for new patients.
- It allows you as a dental team to connect with your target audience
- It encourages you to build relationships with your current patients as well as new ones, which provides a richer experience for patients
- It improves patient retention as the practice is always visible and at the forefront of the patients “newsfeeds”
- It allows you to gain valuable customer insights through reviews and testimonials.
- It increases traffic & conversions on to your dental practice website-which is key for your practice!
- It allows you to share content faster and easier-such as newsletters, new branch information, offers, latest trends and practices
- It allows you to run targeted ads with real-time results, to see what is working and where to develop and concentrate your promotions.
So with this in mind, it’s no longer a question of IF you should be using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but WHEN you should be using it and HOW you are using the social media platforms to engage with current and potential new patients online.
If you are going to take on social media in house (rather than pay for a company to take it on for you-which can be costly) then here is a list on HOW to use social media for your dental practice.
Some great examples from two dental practices (North Huyton Dental Practice and SkyRack Dental Practice) have been included in this blog, to give you visual idea of how you should be using social media.
1. Create Followers:
A Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page cannot help grow your practice if there’s no one there following it to see it. So you need to start by building an audience for your page. This is can be achieved simply by asking your current patients to find and “like” your page. These patients will more than likely already have personal accounts on these social media platforms.
Ways this could be done:
- The receptionists at the practice could hand out cards with Facebook/Instagram/Twitter details.
- You could include targeted messages to “like and follow” on social media when sending email or SMS appointment reminders to patients, e.g.
“Did you know our dental practice has a Facebook page now? Dr. XXX posts great health tips and advice on how to look after your teeth. We have special discounts available to our Facebook fans only. All you have to do is ‘like and follow’ our page xxxxxxxx and get details on how you can start saving!”
- There could be a poster by front desk with the Facebook page address/Instagram/Twitter account details and ask patients to connect to the free Wi-Fi and “like and follow” the pages.
2. Create Engaging Posts:
Once you have followers on your social media sites, you want to keep them with relevant and engaging posts.
Try to avoid posting adverts every time but instead do that using paid or promoted adverts. Also, don’t continuously nag your readers about dental hygiene or what to eat/not eat. People don’t like being lectured to.
Your posts should be engaging, funny, always have images and doesn’t always have to be about your dental practice.
Don’t keep the same theme, mix it about. Remember social media for your dental practice is all about being social. When you share information that patients are interested in, they will be more likely to respond by commenting and sharing your post with their followers.
Dentistry iQ states:
Leading search engines such as Google are increasingly attaching importance to websites that are integrated with active social networking. Search engines are using social media activities as one of the most reliable forms of evidence to determine the worthiness of a website from the point of view of online readers.
There are lots of different ways you can engage your followers with a variety of posts:
Facebook has the most number of users and more than likely have majority of your patients using this social media site too. Here you could share a variety of posts for your current and potential patients to see:
- Photos of your office and your team members
- Links to blogs from your dental practice website especially about dental tips or oral health advice.
- News and information about any changes to your practice
- Seasonal messages to your patients and followers
- Discount offers
- Patient reviews
5* Patient Review:- Image credit: North Huyton Dental Practice
Instagram is mainly visual and is the most popular social media site at the moment, especially amongst the younger generation. Here you need to be a bit creative with what you post here:
- Before and after images of patients teeth (with the permission of patients of course!)
- Posters of promotions and discounts you are offering
- Positive or inspirational quotes especially around healthy wellbeing
- Patient testimonials (have this is in writing beforehand-that they allow testimonials to be shared on social media)
- Seasonal messages with discounts
Before and After teeth images:- Image credit: North Huyton Dental Practice
Twitter is a fast paced social media site and you would need to be adding posts regularly and more than once a day. So if you have the time or have someone who could be in charge of your social media marketing then this could be good for:
- Posting links to your blogs on your website
- Retweeting relevant articles especially in the dental industry
- Re-Share content from your followers who have commented positively about your practice or your services.
- Engage in twitter followers seeking advice about dental care (you can see posts from people who have used relevant dental hashtags)
Fun and Informative Tweets:- Image credit: Skyrack Dental
LinkedIn is a great place for professional idea sharing and networking with other professionals. By joining LinkedIn groups you can:
- share ideas and information about your dental practice to other like-minded professionals
- find and share latest news about health and technology trends
- share links to your blogs from your website
3. Post/Engage Regularly:
Now that you have a whole host of ideas on what to post on the different social media sites, you need to think carefully about when you are going to post them.
The best way to do this is to produce a social media calendar which outlines what you will be posting and when. You can use scheduling tools like Buffer that posts these for you at a given day and time (of your choice. You can manage 3 accounts for free. This tool also allows you to manage your social media accounts from once dashboard, so you don’t need to keep signing in and out of different accounts.
Once you set up your posts it is important to post regularly and not to become stagnant or complacent, which is why a calendar will help a great deal because if you have planned ahead, it makes posting a lot easier.
Ideas for engagement and frequency:
Tuesday-Testimonials or Tips for Teeth
Wednesday-Jokes (dentistry or otherwise) to keep followers entertained
Thursday- Blogs or Relevant articles
Friday- Photos –team, office shots, before and after images
Patient Tips:- Image credit: Skyrack Dental
You don’t have to post every day. The above is just a suggestion.
You could start lightly, by posting at least once a week (once a day for Twitter). You then increase this once you get the hang of it or when you notice more engagement. But, as mentioned before, whichever social media site you do use, the important thing is to update regularly (not just concentrate on one and neglect the other)
4. Direct Traffic To Dental Practice Website:
Every great dental practice website deserves to be highly visible when being searched on the internet. Search engines, such as Google, are attach importance to websites that are integrated with active social media sites. They use social media activities as evidence to decide the current relevance and worth of a website for online searchers.
For example, when someone shares your blog from your dental practice website on Facebook or Twitter, it’s a cue for the search engine to determine the value of your website.
Every link/share/mention of your website on social network sites (including reviews and testimonials left by patients) is viewed by the search engines as an endorsement of your website. So your page rankings improve on search engines as more people rate your website positively on social media sites. This is why it is important to try and encourage your current patients to leave testimonials and reviews on sites, such as Facebook. Potential patients always read other people’s reviews before deciding to use your services.
5. Get Help:
It takes time to manage an active an online/social media presence. It is important to be updating and monitoring your various social media sites at least two/three times a week.
If this is difficult for you, as the partner of the practice, to devote this much time each week sharing content and reading/responding to patient feedback, then get another member of your staff on board to help.
If finances allow and you have the budget for it, then the best solution is to seek help of an outside company whose expertise lie in boosting your online/social media presence through the use of SEO analytics. They can prove to be costly but for an initial boost for your practice they could be worth the money spent.
Social media marketing is becoming more and more important in this digital age. As a dental practice, you want to be able to invest time and effort into it and do it properly. The last thing you want is to fall behind and for your local competitors to be at an advantage over you.