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April 2013

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Social Media

Simplify Social Media Marketing in 5 Steps

Marketing always requires a strategy, and marketing your practice on social media is no different. Creating a predefined method of posting, commenting, and interacting can help you meet realistic goals and make the task of doing it yourself less daunting.

1. Define your purpose
Before marketing your practice on social media, you need to determine why you want to utilize social media. Do you want to improve communication with existing patients? Are you trying to reach new patients? Define your end goal of marketing on social media.  If you have more than one purpose, that’s perfectly okay. Simply taking note of them will help you create targeted posts that relate back to your overall goals.

2. Generate ideas
What will you post/share to meet your goals? Create an ongoing list of interesting facts to share, specials you’re running, etc. Having a list of ideas to pull posts from will allow you to save time when posting on social networking sites. Also, don’t forget to add variety in regards to the types of content you’re sharing. Videos and photos have much higher user-interaction rates over plain-text posts.

3. Start small
If you’re new to social media, you don’t need to immediately start marketing your practice on every social network out there; simply start with a single social network, such as Facebook or Twitter. After you get one network dialed in, consider networking on multiple social media sites.

4. Determine who will manage your account(s)
Are you going to manage your own social media profiles? Or are you going to share the duties with an office manager or staff member? Clearly defining roles for those responsible will allow you to hold someone accountable for your social media marketing and will create a consistent voice that followers can grow accustomed to.

5. Track your progress
Take note when a new patient says they found you via your social network, or were referred to you from someone within your network. Also note which posts are getting the most attention (i.e. comments, likes, shares, etc). After you analyze where your audience is coming from and what topics they’re interacting with most, you can generate successfully targeted posts.

Before you decide to throw caution to the wind and dive into marketing your practice on social networking sites, create a solid plan of attack. Having an outline and understanding of what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it will allow you stress less while you provide your audience interesting, valuable content.

If you need help with social media marketing, call us at (888) 932-3644.

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Social Media

How to Find Time for Social Media

You’re busy, and it takes a lot to run your own practice; we completely understand.  We also understand how easy it is to think that you simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to social media marketing, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

By following these simple techniques you can easily manage, grow, and engage your social networks:

1. Dedicate Yourself to It
Start by finding small amounts of time throughout your day to plan posts. Even just 15 minutes a day would allow you to create a few tweets, a Facebook post, or work on a blog article. Added up over the course of the week, you could easily have enough quality content to share with your networks daily. You may even find that you are able to finish and post one blog article per week.

2. Allocate Your Time
Determine when you have the time to post. Is it in the morning? Or do evenings work better for you?  Also decide how many times you will post on your networks each day. Starting out with just one or two posts a week may be easier than trying to post daily.

3. Give Yourself a Time Limit
A single Facebook post can be completed in less than 15 minutes. Determine how long it takes you to create a good post, and stick to that time constraint each time you log in. This will prevent you from getting distracted and losing time.

4. Build a Process
Determine which activities you will perform each time you log in and the frequency that you will perform them. For example, are you going to respond to comments and questions daily or weekly? Will you post new discussions each week or once a month? After you determine which actions you will perform and when, you can create a schedule that will help keep you on track.

5. Schedule Posts for an Added Convenience
If you’re too busy to post every day, but would like to, curate posts and save them to publish at a later date and time. Facebook allows you to schedule future posts directly from your Facebook Page, and you can schedule tweets in advance using a platform like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. You can even line up an entire month’s worth of posts in a single sitting!

6. Use Your Smartphone
You don’t need a computer to publish posts or jot down ideas. You can publish your posts directly on your smartphone using social media apps. Additionally, you can use a note-taking app like Evernote or Google Keep to jot down ideas throughout the day. Then, you can access the notes on your computer at a later time.

Social media marketing doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task, but making even the slightest amount of time for it can improve your marketing reach.

If you’re new to social media and want additional help creating a solid strategy, give us a call at (888) 932-3644 to speak with one of our web experts.

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Search Marketing

How Can I Benefit From SEO?

Currently, there are over 460 million active websites on the Internet. In a sea so vast, it’s no surprise that getting noticed can be difficult. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of marketing your website to highlight the services you provide, so prospective patients can easily find your website when performing an online search. An effective SEO strategy uses various online marketing methods to help improve your ranking on major search engines such as Yahoo!, Bing, and Google. Combined, these methods communicate with search engines, telling them that your website is relevant for particular search keywords. 

As an example, let’s say you own a dental practice in Cary, North Carolina. The search phrase “Dentist Cary NC” receives about 1,300 searches each month, according to Google’s keyword estimation tool.  Because research indicates that the first page of Google search results acquires 35% of all clicks, any dental practice appearing on this first page for the phrase “Dentist Cary NC” will receive approximately 455 more clicks to their website than competitors appearing lower in the search results. Even if only 2% of these clicks translated into a new patient, you could be acquiring 9 new patients each month! 

SEO isn’t just an easy way for new patients to find you online.  Having an optimized website gives prospective patients the opportunity to connect with your practice and learn more about the services they’re interested in. Optimization proves to search engines that you relate to a searcher’s needs, allowing the searcher (prospective patient) to believe you are a credible answer to their problem.

While it’s true that most websites could benefit from SEO, there are instances where some websites need it more than others. So, how can you tell if you need it? Ask yourself these following questions:

• Where am I currently ranking on major search engines?

One of the benefits of search engine optimization is the potential for it to improve your ranking on popular search engines. As search engines try to present Internet users with the most relevant information, an optimized site can be tailored to provide just that. 

Start by searching the simplest term, such as your city and main service (e.g. Los Angeles dentist). Then, scroll through each of the results until you find your website. If you are not within the first few pages, your practice is missing a ton of new patient opportunities. SEO can help improve this search engine ranking.

• Do I have landing pages that focus on the services I offer?

The goal of your website should be to sell the services you offer. If you want to sell higher-ticket items such as dental implants or veneers, rather than a general cleaning, make sure you have landing pages that highlight these services. The ideal SEO strategy includes showcasing and marketing the services you most want to be known for.

• Is my website bringing in new patients each month?

When you ask new patients how they found out about your practice, are they saying they found you online? A website should serve as part of your selling process. If it isn’t selling your services to online prospects, SEO may improve your visibility on search engines, while providing prospects with better information about your services.

• My website does bring in new patients, but why aren’t they the demographic that I want?

If your website is bringing in new patients, but they aren’t the type of patients you want, search engine optimization can help you market the services that will attract your desired demographic. For example, a restorative dentist may prefer patients with severe esthetic problems or patients needing dental implants, rather than patients wanting general dentistry services.  A targeted SEO strategy can highlight the services you want it to, so you weed out less desirable patients.

To learn more about search engine optimization, contact us at 888-932-3644.

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Social Media

5 Things Hurting Your Google+ Local Page

We’ve always stressed the importance of maintaining an active Google+ Local Page. And, as we see more businesses converting their Google Places to a Google+ Local Page, we’ve noticed that some business owners may potentially be hurting their local search optimization by making critical mistakes.

As with each of their services, Google sets guidelines regarding what is and isn’t appropriate when using their products for marketing. Any of these five tactics could result in poor rankings:

1. Adding location-based keywords to your categories: Currently, Google allows you to associate 3-5 keywords or “Categories” with your profile. As an example, a dentist’s categories may be “dentist”, “cosmetic dentist”, “dental clinic”. If this same dentist changed those categories to say “Boston dentist”, “cosmetic dentist Boston”, “Boston dental clinic”, the addition of “Boston” would cause their profile to be marked as SPAM.

2. Claiming to be located in the closest large city: If your business address falls in a small or rural town just outside of a large city, like Houston, don’t claim you’re located in Houston. Google can pinpoint these false entries and mark your page as SPAM, and may even remove your page entirely. Use your website to mention that you “serve patients in your city, Houston, etc.”.

3. Using a P.O. Box as your address: Google+ Local tries to streamline user-interaction, allowing users to get maps, directions, and tons of details about your location. If you list your address as a P.O. Box, it becomes impossible for patients to find your physical location. As a result, Google will likely list you below most of your competitors.

4. Using an 800 number: In their attempt to thwart SPAM on their services, Google requires a phone call or postcard verification of a business page. When their automation system calls your practice 800 number, it cannot navigate through the prompts to eventually reach a person. Because of this, businesses that use an 800 number are not likely to be ranked well due to the fact that Google knows patrons will suffer the same annoyance.

5. Purchasing fake reviews: Nothing angers Google more than lies. Paying for reviews or having employees leave them for your own practice will eventually be discovered by Google’s account monitors. And, even the slightest suspicion of a fake review stands grounds for banning your profile to the bottom of search results for all eternity. Quite simply, earn positive reviews because you have excellent service, not because you have deep pockets.

What’s the Big Deal?

As everyone tries to game the system, Google is cracking down on legitimacy. 800 numbers and P.O. boxes make it difficult to verify the validity of your business. Additionally, Google’s business listings are an effort to provide Google users with current, relevant information about your practice. Paying for good reviews weakens Google’s reputation. Think about it; if users are turning to Google for reputable information, reading about fake experiences makes Google less reliable.

The Bummer of Google Penalties

If you’ve experienced one of these penalties, you know that Google doesn’t just kiss and make-up. Instead, they place you in time-out until you make necessary changes and submit your profile for review. Only after the Google team has scrutinized your changes with a fine-toothed comb will you have a shot at being ranked well again.

If you’ve made these mistakes and haven’t been caught yet, it’s time to make the necessary changes before your Google+ Local Page gets shot down.

To learn more about local search marketing on Google+ Local, download your free copy of The Ultimate Social Media Guide to Google+, or contact us at 888-932-3644.

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Social Media

Top 5 Ways to Use Google+ Communities

The primary goal of implementing a social media marketing strategy is to improve communication with your prospective patients and to widen your marketing reach. Building a network of followers that you actually interact and communicate with is the starting point.

In December of 2012, Google introduced Google+ Communities to their social sharing platform Google+.  Communities are groups of users that can connect, share, and communicate in a public forum setting. Community discussions are broken into various Discussion Categories, which help users find the information they care most about. Within each of these Discussion Categories, users can ask related questions, comment on images or videos, respond to others’ posts, and even share links.

With the creation of Communities, users and local businesses can easily interact with other Google+ users who share similar interests. While seemingly arbitrary at first glance, Google+ Communities can actually be used to market to your targeted audience – here’s how!

1. Use communities as an information highway.

In joining communities that relate to services or products you offer, you can see common questions/concerns others have regarding these topics.  If you can contribute to the community by answering questions or clarifying any confusion, help out!  You can also use popular topics to shape the services you offer.  For example, if a number of Community members are mentioning their success with, say Nobel implants, consider offering this product to your patients.

2. Use popular opinion to curate blog posts.

While you already understand Communities can help shape the services you offer, you can also use this information to create popular blog post topics. See what topics your Communities are discussing and find a connection with your services. After writing a blog post addressing how you can meet their needs, share the blog post with your Community.

3. Gain interest.

After joining a Community, it is important to remain active in the conversation.  Regularly post comments, questions, and ideas on each of your Community pages to maintain visibility among other members and increase interest in your services.

4. Study the Communities you join.

Don’t simply join the largest Community in your local region. Join Communities that may find your services useful. For example, the Coffee Lovers Community may not know the effect coffee has on their teeth, but a dentist who posts useful information about these effects, along with a solution (plug your teeth whitening services here), could generate interest from Community members who live near your practice.

5. Create your own Community meant for your patients.

Some of your patients may already be on Google+. Giving them a designated group to join gives them the ability to ask a question, read about special offers, etc. If you do create your own Community, be sure to moderate comments being posted and respond to all questions. Often, a designated Community makes patients more willing to participate as they learn others have the same questions or concerns.  It also could keep potentially negative reviews away from your Google+ Local page!

To join a Community, look for the Community tab on the left hand side of your Google+ Page. Click, search for Communities, and start interacting.  It’s that easy.

To learn more about marketing your practice on Google+, download our Ultimate Social Media Guide to Google+.

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