How and Why Does Social Media Apply to Your Dental Practice?
In the wake of MySpace and the emergence of Facebook shortly after, younger generations have taken social media from a fad to an everyday tool for sharing and seeking out new information about businesses. Even now, older generations are joining in – and with everyone in one place, it has become a heavily invested piece of marketing for all businesses; dental practices included.
People use social media as a tool to get recommendations for dental practices, services, and experiences from previous visits. It is seen as a trustworthy tool that has essentially replaced traditional word of mouth tactics – why only ask your neighbor when you can ask everyone in the city? With reviews from real people connected to personal profiles, it’s much easier to trust that these were honest experiences.
As it’s generally a less expensive alternative to traditional advertising tactics like local TV commercials or newspaper ads, smaller practices like yours can reap the benefits of marketing while maintaining smaller budgets. Plus, it accomplishes one thing traditional media does not: two-way interactions that create a bond between dentists and patients, and with time, a loyal community.
The importance of setting up a strategic social media presence
It’s not enough to just be present. Social media works only when a strategy is set in place and executed in the right manner – minimal investment will only achieve minimal results. Some key points are:
– Research prospective clients. Social media is a data mine for where they hang out, what they like, and what their needs are. This is how your practice can connect to its current and prospective patients and learn more about how to improve what services are offered, the most convenient hours, and how to size it all up. Sometimes, you can even just ask them directly.
– Choose which social media platforms are best for your practice. Each one has a distinct and unique purpose and not all will benefit you; choose a few that will bolster business and target the right users.
– Have a unified message throughout your posts to build trust in your practice’s brand. Differing messages often look sloppy and confusing.
Social media platforms and what they do
The usefulness of each social media platform varies from one business to the next, depending on who you are trying to reach. As a general look, here’s a few:
– Facebook: commonly used for connecting with friends and family by sharing photos and content. Facebook is great for building word of mouth and generating organic reviews. Connected profiles make it more trustworthy and real to patients looking to your page for reviews and feedback. This is an ideal and easy-to-use platform for interacting with patients who have concerns or questions and want to direct it at someone they feel can help them rather than speaking to a corporate giant or an answering machine. Quick, timely responses are desired by patients here.
– Twitter: word to the wise – less is more. Patients that use this tool are looking for quick, short answers to their questions, or small announcements. Posting videos is common, but they are broken down into bits. Anything longer than a few sentences is discouraged here.
– Instagram: is for showing off. Photos of food, fashion, travel experiences, and generally positive vibes is what people seek here. Rather than having a conversation with patients, Instagram is more of a one-way street where visuals dominate the slew of comments below them. Pretty photos of your office and smiling patients are good, as are demonstrations like a video on how a procedure works. Catch their eyeballs and their likes.
– YouTube: similar to Instagram where videos dominate the platform with How-To’s and demonstrations, though longer videos are more acceptable here. Make them useful and shareable for your patients, and consider series of videos that they can tune into like they would a TV show each week. Video testimonials are popular on this platform.
– Google+/ Google Maps: the ideal place for reviews and feedback. Because of its visibility and accessibility, Google not only is great for displaying basic contact information, it is usually the make-it-or-break-it point for practices who want to be discovered when people are searching online.
How do I know if my social media strategies are successful?
Playing on each social media outlet’s strength is key to developing tangible results for your practice and success looks differently every which way you go, but the main thing to keep in mind is that although social media interactions are instant, gratification is not. Strategies take time to develop, just like your offline interactions with current and prospective patients. This is the relationship-building business and it’s a big piece of the pie. Ignoring digital platforms is not an option in this day and age, so play to your strengths and ask an expert for help while you’re busy running your practice.