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#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.

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.

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+.

Social Media

The Ultimate Social Media Guide to Google+

In late 2011, Google launched its own social network, to create a platform on which Internet users could connect with like-minded people, inspirational voices, or familiar brands.  As the platform has evolved over the past year, Google has integrated Google+ into nearly every aspect of the search engine, redefining its identity.  So, what makes Google+ a brilliant social network for business owners?

• Google+ Local allows you to manage and track patient reviews and edit business listing information.

• All activity on the social network is indexed by Google, the world’s largest search engine, which can help dramatically increase your visibility within Google search results.

• With Google+ you can group followers into “Circles” and share information only with the “Circles” you specify.  This feature is great for promotions you only want to offer to a “Current Patients” circle or a “Referred Friends” circle.

In addition to these advantageous features, studies indicate:

• Google search results are affected by social connections made on Google+.

• Businesses on Google+ that include a link to their website tend to have their site indexed very quickly (hint: this can help your ranking on Google search results).

• +1 links can potentially rank higher.

Click here to download The Ultimate Social Media Guide to Google+, part 3 of the 5 part series, and learn how to master this brilliant social network. Stay tuned for part 4 which will expose you to the photographic world of Instagram!

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