Are you looking for ways to grow your dental practice? Have you heard about other dentists using social media marketing to grow their business? Maybe you already have a Twitter profile or a personal Facebook account and have started using them to promote your dental practice already.
By promoting your dental practice on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media networks, you’ll be right where your current and prospective patients are.
Successful dentists are also beginning to realize that social media tools are cheaper, faster, and more efficient than traditional dental marketing methods for growing their practice.
These benefits are among many reasons why dentists are adopting social media to supplement their traditional dental marketing. A Twitter survey of 38 dentists conducted by “The Wealthy Dentist” early last year found over half (57%) of the respondents were already using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for professional purposes. At the time of the survey, dentists didn’t yet consider social media sites central to their online dental marketing but even then, the numbers were revealing.
- Dentists love Facebook. Half (49%) use it professionally, and 83% personally.
- One in three dentists are on Twitter. 31% use it professionally, and 17% personally.
- One in three dentists use LinkedIn (37%).
- Almost a fifth (17%) of the dentist-respondents use YouTube professionally.
Another survey—based on Facebook—of 229 dentists in the United States was conducted by Verasoni in December of that year. Using only Facebook Group and Fan pages, the study found that 80% (181) of the respondents use fan pages while 20% (48) use groups. Despite this fact, the average audience/fans of most of the respondents (79%) was still small (1–100 fans). The researchers also noticed the dentists who had Facebook fan sites seldom posted anything—making their content less useful. This was also seen as an indication most dentists didn’t have a strategy for social media in their online dental marketing plan at that time. Here’s how you can get ahead of the pack with social media:
Establish A Professional Presences
While setting up and joining social networking sites is free, it’s crucial that you invest the time and resources necessary to establish a professional presence for yourself:
- Time – Consistently updating a Facebook page, posting tips, writing blogs, tweeting and similar tasks are imperative to your online positioning but also take away from the time you spend on other activities related to your practice.
- Talent – You can assign an employee or hire an outsourced expert to do your social media work but it isn’t easy to find someone who can convey the brand, tone and personality of your practice so you must be careful in selecting the right person to delegate this to. A social media expert will be able to help you strategize and leverage your knowledge so that you are positioned for success while maintaining the integrity of what makes you exceptional.
- Reputation – How people perceive you online can affect your reputation but what’s more important is how you respond to it. Many businesses are scared stiff of the possibility of a negative backlash online but a social media expert can show you how these situations can be leveraged to create unique, lucrative opportunities that even the best testimonials couldn’t get you.
- Image – Make sure all your profiles are branded professionally with custom backgrounds, pages and profile pictures to ensure that every social media profile has a consistent image that creates familiarity and conveys your level of professionalism.
Social Media Is About Relationships
Social media for a dental practice gives you the option to better connect with your existing patients but also the ability to generate hot leads in real-time. People are extremely vocal about their ailments on social media and you can use online search tools to track down these conversations and be the first to respond and offer solutions. You can be alerted every time someone says “tooth ache” in a 20km radius from your office and start building rapport with the people who need your help immediately. You can build instant trust and credibility when you are the first person to help them out with your advice.
The most effective approach is to provide helpful information—be seen as an expert who helps people with dental advice, updates, industry news, helpful articles and links to useful dental resources and informative articles and videos.
Even though your goal with social media is to drive more traffic to your business, you must earn the right to promote your products and services by building rapport and once people perceive that you are trustworthy, they are much more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. You may occasionally advertise specials and other offers but pair these with situations that can help your patients or prospects.
For example, if there’s a snowstorm and you’re expecting less patients for the day, you can use Twitter to announce snowstorm specials—say a free or discounted dental examination. It’s not feasible to use traditional media for such promotions for cost and timing reasons but social media allows you to run flash promos that help you gain a loyal client at a minimal expense.
Create A System And Stick To It
Remember the survey that found dentists seldom update their Facebook pages? Don’t fall into that habit. Consistency is one of the most important things in a successful social media strategy. Some people use software like HootSuite to help them manage their posts on various social media sites. You can use this software to create content in advance and schedule these for posting in your social networking sites at various times. If you want to see benefits from social media, it is imperative that you post regularly. It’s also important to understand that the etiquette is different across the different social networks. For example, on Facebook and LinkedIn it is appropriate to only post 1-2 updates a day while Twitter needs a more robust posting schedule to achieve effective results with tweeting between 5-12 times a day.
It’s crucial that your posts aren’t simply talking at your audience but talking to them by encouraging thoughtful response and commenting. Be sure to ask questions so people can reply to you with their concerns. When they do, you can then send them messages or converse with them online about their dental concerns.
To keep a consistent presence on social media sites, you can make a manageable weekly checklist of things to do. Here’s an example with some very attainable goals:
- Facebook – Friend 20 patients or prospects, respond to 20 friends’ posts, post 10 status updates, and post 5 helpful dental resources every week.
- Twitter – Post 7 status updates a day, follow 100 people per week, retweet 10 tweets, respond to 10 tweets, etc.
Gain The Trust Of Your Audience
During your years as a dentist, you have no doubt experienced the pressure of making your patients feel comfortable with you at some point. Social media is extremely effective at giving that personal quality that can instill the confidence and comfort that is difficult to achieve while you have a drill in someone’s mouth. Humanize your practice by giving it a community feel that extends online and offline. Slowly, by keeping a consistent and quality presence on social media sites, you’ll be building a trustworthy reputation that will earn you more repeat patients and referrals.
How Other Dentists Make Social Media Work For Them
Here are some dentists who have been successful in integrating social media with their dental marketing practices:
Sal Aragona (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube)
Keeping his social network updated and fresh, Dr. Aragona soon gained 200 Facebook “likes.” He posted instructional and testimonial videos on YouTube. He also posted these videos on his blog that automatically synced with his Facebook and Twitter pages. He wrote about patient-friendly blog topics like sedation dentistry, routine cleaning importance, mini implants, and bruxism, among others. Through the integration of social media into his web strategy, Dr. Aragona was able to build awareness of his practice and successfully increase his referrals.
Dr. Irena Vaksman (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube)
Similar to Dr. Aragona, Dr. Irena Vaksman launched her dental marketing using a social media campaign to raise awareness of her dental practice that faced competition from hundreds of other more established dentists housed in the same building. Drawing on the help of her husband, lawyer Robert Vaksman, Dr. Vaksman managed to outperform her competitors.
Dr. Vaksman’s Facebook fan page currently has 1191 “likes” and has been mentioned over 225 times. That’s a lot of people who can refer her services to friends and family. Most people trust referrals that are recommended by their friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
With some of her YouTube videos gaining view counts in the thousands, she has seen greatly enhanced traffic to all her social media channels.
Her well conceived and implemented social media marketing strategy earned her 320 new patients at the end of 5 months by offering a patient exam and x-ray promotion on her social media sites and Groupon.com.
Dr. Jason Lipscomb (Twitter)
Although it probably wasn’t an intended result of Dr. Lipscomb’s social media strategy, his tweets attracted the attention of a local Richmond TV anchor and the outcome was his practice (and use of social media and web technology) got him featured on local TV three times. All because of one tweet. This is a great example of the advantages of reaching local influencers with your social media strategy. To purchase that same kind of TV coverage would have been astronomical compared to the small investment of time and resources expended through social media!
Social Media Helps to Grow Your Dental Practice
With the help of social media, it is easier for you than ever to connect with the people that need your help and expands your practice in the process. Publishing your expert articles has never been easier and the playing field is now level for you to help position yourself as the leading authority in your community. Become the one people already know and trust when they’re looking for a new dentist.
Today, the preferred method of finding trusted referrals is people seeking out recommendations from their friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
Gary Vaynerchuk says in his bestselling book The Thank You Economy…“If you apply social media correctly, your clients will buy more, they will be more loyal, they will spread your message, and they will defend you should you ever need them to.”
All of this adds up to your dental practice flourishing in our new social world.