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September 2015

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Social Media

"Do I Need a Social Media Manager?"

There are certain attributes every good social media manager should have – excellent writing skills, curiosity, timeliness, confidentiality and the ability to collaborate. You say you have all of these? Well, then you may be able to create your dental practice’s social media presence. But before you get too far, there are a few more things to consider.

Studies show it takes a midsize company about 32 hours a month to manage a single social media platform. The list of social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, Tumblr – goes on and on. And the landscape is changing every day. You’re already likely to have a work week consisting of 40+ hours devoted to running the business of your practice and providing dental services to your patients. Are you ready to add even more hours to your workload? Can you afford one week per month per social media outlet?

Obviously the time you can commit to any endeavor is important to its success. Beyond the time factor, here are three questions to answer when you’re deciding to do it yourself or hire a professional.

1. Do you understand all of the networks? You probably have a personal Facebook account. You may even have Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. But do you know how to leverage them? Don’t be a lurker. Posting once in a while and forgetting about your page isn’t going to help your practice’s growth. Do you know how posters on each platform prefer to engage? In order to reach beyond your immediate friends you have to reach your patients and potential patients on their level and on a regular basis. The more engagements you create; the more shares you’ll get; the more traffic will come to your social media pages; the more appointments will be made.

2. Can you respond to everything? Social media is a landscape of immediacy. Posters expect responses within 24 on most platforms. On some platforms, i.e. Twitter, you need to be much quicker. Facebook even added a feature that tells fans that you’re “very responsive to messages” when you consistently answer within 5 minutes or less. Failing to respond to a post in a timely manner, or at all, can have serious repercussions on your brand name. Social media offers posters a sense of anonymity and protection. So when they feel slighted you can expect negative comments and feedback.

3. Are you missing opportunities? Do you run a patient referral program? How about special promotions for dental procedures? One of the fastest and most successful ways to spread the word among your existing patients is through social media. If you forget to spread the word this way, you may also miss out on six degrees of connections begin exposed to your practice. Your social media posts should never be an afterthought. Social media marketing is just like any other outlet – you need to begin with a strategic plan that covers your communications for months in advance. This will help ensure you don’t miss opportunities to engage with patients, potential patients and more.

Now that you’ve answered some important questions, and weighed the time and money aspects of social media marketing, what do you think? Are you going to try doing it yourself or would you like to investigate hiring someone to handle your practice’s social media responsibilities? Qualified Internet marketing companies should be able to create a social media plan to meet your practice’s goals. If you have concerns, look at how they handle their own social media. How often do they blog? How many channels do they use and how much engagement do they get? If a company isn’t using social media well for themselves, they probably won’t help you use it well either. Still have questions? Call ProSites today for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

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Search Marketing

Do Pay-Per-Click Ads Work for Dental Practices?

Organic search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that often takes several months before any measureable results are seen. But you’re a savvy individual who understands that 97% of consumers search online for local businesses (Google). You know a sound SEO strategy will help you tap into those numbers and increase traffic to your website, giving you an opportunity to gain new dental patients. But months – as a business owner that seems like a very long time – so you’d like to try an approach that may show more immediate results. Enter pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Can PPC advertising deliver immediate results? PPC ads are essentially ads that you pay for each time a viewer clicks it and is sent to your website. With PPC ads you must first bid on keywords for placement. If you bid the highest for a keyword and someone searches said keyword, your ad will be at the top of the paid search listings. Therefore, you could see targeted web traffic in a matter of hours. The answer to your question is yes.

Can I do PPC advertising on my own? You can, but is that where your time and skills will be most valuable. You can set up an AdWords or Bing account and begin creating and running PPC ads right away. You can change things up at any time – offers, text, bids – to test what gets you the best results. Unfortunately, simply creating ads without an overarching search market strategy often leads to high PPC costs and low conversion rates. And that won’t grow your dental practice.

How do I get the most out of my PPC advertising? Selecting and continually optimizing keywords and copy text will help drive higher click rates and ultimately lower costs. It’s a time-consuming effort. Doing your keyword research once, when you create your first ads, will cause you to miss out on highly-relevant, long-tail, low-cost keywords that ultimately drive the most qualified traffic to your site.

Keep these four things in mind to get the most out of your PPC advertising:

• Relevance – Keywords you bid on should be closely related to your dental services. The more targeted the keywords, the better chances you have to increase your PPC click-through rate.

• Specificity – Your keyword search should be exhaustive. It should not only include popular and frequently searched terms, but long-tail keywords that are more specific and less common. These account for the majority of search traffic. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and therefore may have a lower cost-per-click.

• Adaptability – Keyword lists need to continually evolve, expand and adapt to drive the most qualified traffic to your landing pages every week. Always analyze the performance of your PPC accounts and make adjustments as necessary.

• Analysis – Your PPC ads will lead traffic to your site. Make sure your landing pages are up to the task. They should have clear hierarchies and clear calls-to-action. The call-to-action on each page should be modified regularly to align with your PPC ads. Your PPC ads should direct click-throughs to different landing pages to allow for a more comprehensive analysis of the success of your campaign.

You’re an excellent dentist and a savvy business person. You likely understand where your skills and time are most valuable to your practice. When you’re ready to tap into the 97% of consumers doing local searches for products and services, a qualified Internet marketing company can help you create and implement a plan to meet your practice’s growth goals without taking you away from your patients. Call ProSites today for a personal consultation today at 888-932-3644.

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Social Media

Grow Your Business with Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, said, “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.” He built his business and fortune on this one simple principal. Think about it and you’ll see that this idea works for everything. Looking for a good restaurant – ask a friend. Can’t decide which movie to go see this weekend – ask a friend. When you need a dentist, who do you trust for recommendations? Your friends.

Twitter has more than 316 million active monthly users (Twitter, 2015). Google+ has over 300 million monthly active users (Statista, 2015). Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion active monthly users (Statista, 2015). Not all of them are your friends, but many of them could be. It’s like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only substituting your dental practice for Mr. Bacon. This is why social media works for growing businesses – six degrees.

First Degree. Create a Facebook page for your practice. Facebook opens endless possibilities for you to engage with potential customers and raise awareness. However, ensuring that you meet your objectives and create a consistent brand voice can be daunting and time consuming. An Internet marketing company can help you build a plan and maintain content that fits an overarching marketing strategy for your practice.

Short of that, you can begin with your first degree of connections. Put together a page for your practice and invite your close personal friends and family to “like” it. While your family and friends will probably like your page no matter what, it’s important to remember that this page will make a first impression with potentially 1.5 billion people. The nicer it looks the better your chances of making a second impression and getting new patients. So take your time and do it right.

Second Degree. Develop a plan to invite your current patients, as well as “not-so-close” friends and acquaintances to your page. Be careful, nobody likes spam. Don’t send requests too often or in bulk. Being reported as a spammer can get you suspended from Facebook and creates an unwanted image for your practice. If you need help, an Internet marketing company can help you create a strategy that works within Facebook rules of etiquette to build your network of friends without being considered a spammer.

These first two degrees of connections are foundational. Most, if not all, of these requests to “like” will be with people who are already familiar with your business.

Third Degree. What do your patients, friends and acquaintances care about? We can safely say that most don’t want to be hammered over the head with marketing content. Do some research to discover what they engage with on Facebook – news stories, fun facts, humorous memes? Take a look at companies that have been successful in engaging similar audiences and see what has worked for them. The goal is to get your followers to not just like, but share your posts. Getting this engagement is how you introduce your practice to an exponentially larger market of potential patients.

Fourth Degree. Likes are good, but shares are valuable. A share is an endorsement that goes out to everyone on the sharer’s friend list. A post has to connect emotionally with a person in order for them to share it. Posts that offer almost universally common denominators (think complaints) tend to get shared most often. We’ve all seen and laughed at posts about long work days, bad weather, and tiring family members. Although unfounded, people like to complain about dentists too. Creating a funny and smart series of memes involving teeth may fit this trend.

The key to your content plan should be to develop a balance between posts that talk about your company and those that engage on a broader scale. Although you may want every post to highlight your practice’s people and services you may discover it’s not an effective strategy.  Finding the right balance takes time and testing.

Fifth Degree. Social media is a conversation. Now that you have an active social media plan for your practice – you’re building your network of friends, regularly posting content, getting engagements – it’s time to take part in conversations. You probably know that should always respond to people who comment and share your posts. But you may not know the importance of commenting on other stories and posts within your network of friends and followers. If Facebook friends think of your practice only as a business your social media plan can still bring in new patients. And, if your Facebook friends think of your practice as a personality that they can converse and share with, you’ll hold a position of trust and authority.

Sixth Degree. “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.” Zuckerberg’s comment was aimed at explaining why social media can have a major impact on businesses. But what happens when a business becomes a trusted friend. Friends are influencers and ambassadors. When your practice holds a position of trust and authority on Facebook, you may have thousands of friends and followers ready to be your ambassador and recommend you when that simple question is asked – “Anyone know a good dentist?”

There is no quick answer or magic meme that will instantly build your authority. While social media can be fun, planning and implementing a social media campaign takes time. If keeping up with your social media marketing is not where you want to utilize your skills, a qualified Internet marketing company can help. To learn how ProSites can create a strategy to meet your practice’s goal, contact us for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

Resources:

about.twitter.com/company

www.statista.com/

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Search Marketing

Dental SEO: Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

The purpose of working on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) is to move your dental practice to the top of the search engine rankings – to be near the top of the first search page. While no one can guarantee your practice’s ranking, if you implement a good SEO marketing plan you should see movement in the right direction.

Here is why it’s important.

SEO is the most cost-effective marketing avenue for bringing new patients into your practice. Millions of searches happen every day and your placement in the search tells people how relevant you are to the questions they are asking. It may not be fair, but searchers feel more confident calling the practice listed on the first page of their search rather than the sixth page. That is why your SEO strategy should create value for searchers that are looking for your expertise, which then incentivizes search engines to endorse your business by increasing your website’s rankings.

Now that you understand the importance of SEO, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to attempt SEO yourself or seek out a pro? Optimization is not easy. To begin with, you need to understand Google algorithms and how they impact your strategy, Google Analytics data for your website and what it is telling you about searcher, website and traffic behavior, and troubleshoot your strategy when you’re not seeing the results you were hoping to obtain. Then you need to turn your search campaign objectives into tactics that will help you obtain the results that you are looking for like creating user-friendly landing pages on your easy to navigate website. The list goes on and on and SEO is not something you can learn only once. The rules are changing almost daily. SEO marketing is an ongoing process that takes time, money and skills to do well.

Does all of this mean you can’t do your own search marketing? No, but there are a couple important questions you should answer before making the decision to either do it yourself or hire a pro.

Q1: Do I have the knowledge and skills to do my practice’s SEO?

While on the surface SEO may not seem that difficult – use hot keywords, get relevant links, post regularly – there are often technical aspects that can be tricky. Not to mention the time-consuming efforts needed to keep abreast of critical knowledge. Take a strong look at your current skill set and how much it meets your SEO needs. Are you a talented content writer? Do you understand HTML, CSS, or any website coding? Is your background in marketing? Do you understand how SEO tactics should be applied so that they align with your overall marketing objectives? If so, you may feel more confident in your ability to perform SEO for your practice.

Now look at you knowledge of new technologies. They often affect search engine strategies which may actually vary from engine to engine. The long-term success of your campaign depends on your ability to stay up to date with search engine rules, changes in SEO algorithms, technical coding details and trends in your website analytics to identify weaknesses in your strategy. Not keeping up could mean using an outdated optimization strategy or becoming too specific with your keyword plan which could potentially set your campaign back permanently, and even erase your website from search engines completely. Are you still confident in your SEO skills, or is this a job that may be better suited for a professional?

Q2: Do I have the time to handle both my patients’ needs and my practice’s SEO marketing?

Look at how much time you have for your practice and remember there are only 24 hours in a day. Your dental practice is your first priority and your patients are the heart of its success. Running your business and offering quality patient services takes a considerable amount of your time. Do you really have the hours to devote to your practice’s SEO as well? Assuming you put together a successful SEO strategy you’ll garner new patients and increase your workload. Will you have time to provide the quality services your patients have come to expect if you’re spending extra hours on SEO?

SEO is an ongoing process. The SEO environment is constantly evolving. You can’t just pick a few keywords and be done with it. Performing well in this environment means digging in, researching and updating your knowledge every day. You will need to test keywords, metadata and test tactics based on changes in your rankings. That’s right, SEO marketing implements a lot of testing and retesting, especially if something goes wrong. Before deciding to do it yourself or hire a pro, take an honest look at your time and skills. Then decide where your time and skills make the greatest impact and give the most value to your practice.

It’s probably not a question of can you, but should you.

You’re a smart person. You’ve mastered many difficult things in your career and SEO could be your next conquest. The question is: should it be? While you may be able to learn the ins and outs of ranking factors and understand how to apply SEO best practices, you have to decide if that is where you get the most value from your time. Do you have time to do the hours of heavy lifting an initial campaign requires, the recurring weekly or monthly proactive optimization, as well as ongoing maintenance in response to insightful analytics and changes dictated by the search engines? How many patients could you have scheduled with those hours?

Moving forward, SEO will be the most important marketing effort your practice can make. Users trust Google, Bing, and Yahoo and other search engines to answer their burning questions, provide solutions and give a list of the businesses that best meet their needs. You want to put your SEO in the most competent hands possible.

If after answering all the questions, you decide to do it yourself remember that the SEO process will take your time, skills and knowledge. If you decide that keeping up with your SEO and website management is not where you should be utilizing your skills, you may be better off hiring a pro. A qualified digital marketing firm can tailor an SEO strategy to your dental practice’s goals and expectations. To learn how ProSites can help you boost your online presence and move your search rankings in the right direction contact us for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

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Social Media

#Hashtags for Dentists Should Make You Smile

You may know the # as a “pound” symbol. In this case, the correct name for the symbol is “hashtag.” In 2007, Twitter followers began using hashtags to form small discussion groups around individual topics. Fast forward eight years, hashtags are now used on every major social media platform, except LinkedIn. Today the hashtag is not used to form small groups, but to categorize and search social posts.

What can hashtags do for my dental practice?

First, Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion active monthly users. Twitter has over 300 million, and Instagram has nearly 300 million (statista). Even if you have a strong presence on social networks, your followers are a very small percentage of the overall users. Hashtags can help you reach many more of them.

Second, many of today’s internet surfers are using social networks as their primary search engine – finding news, reviews, businesses and much more without ever going on Google, Bing or Yahoo. Millennials use hashtags as interchangeably as search queries. Hashtags can help you target all the people in these groups who are interested in dental services, without paying a dime.

Smiling yet? 

Currently when you post to your social sites, your friends and followers can see the post. Hopefully they’re being actively engaged and “like” or “share” your posts to their networks to give you more exposure. But, when you add a hashtag to your post, they get opened up to everyone.

Hashtags for Dentists

If you post a photo of a beautiful smile and add #BestSmile to your post, anyone who searches #BestSmile will see everything containing this hashtag. Likewise, if you add #Dentist, anyone searching for a dentist will see all posts with this hashtag. Twitter, Instagram and Google+ have all found that hashtags improve engagements – as much as double. Simply put, hashtags increase the eyes on your message and they don’t cost a thing.

Effectively Marketing with Hashtags

Hopefully you’re smiling now. But before you rush into putting hashtags on everything, here are six tips to keep in mind.

1. Think locally. Obviously you’re not trying to reach all 300 billion users on Twitter. But you would like to increase the number of qualified targets seeing your posts in your local area. Consider tagging your posts with your city, neighborhood or state. For example, #sandiegodentist

2. Be specific. #Dentist is bound to pull up so many posts your practice may get lost. But when you get more specific you’ll find less competition. Think along the lines of #TeethWhitening, #FightCavities, #ToothAche, or #BestFloss. This is just a beginning – keep brainstorming!

3. Be topical. You need to reach your market where they live. What are they thinking about or doing today Halloween is around the corner so maybe using #HalloweenCandy, #CandySmile, #ToothFairy or #MomLife would speak to the here and now.

4. Don’t use entire sentences. Some people get cute and turn sentences, such as #TrickortreatingattheSalemStreetDentistry into one large hashtag. Or they place hashtags in front of each word. Both are incorrect. Try to use hashtags for dentists, but use ones that people will actually search so keep them short and catchy. And stay away from overly common words.

5. Keep it relevant. Always make sure your hashtags are relevant to your dental practice, your post and to your target audience. There are a lot of sites that can help you analyze your hashtags. Tagboard gives you a good overview of how each hashtag currently is being used on several networks.

6. Be judicious. A common rule of thumb is too many hashtags leads to less interaction. Keep it to one or two hashtags. More than two hashtags drastically lowers interactions. There is one exception to this rule – Instagram. Here you get to go wild. The highest interactions on Instagram come from posts with 11 or more hashtags.

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