Social media is a must in today’s society, and so is being a social dental practice. Whether you prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other platform, social media offers unique and engaging ways for your dental practice to interact with patients. Of course, the content should be interesting and relevant— never just post something because you’ve heard you should post frequently.
Whether you're already a social media rockstar or just launching your practice's social media profiles for the first time, you've probably heard from hundreds of sources (including your patients!) that your social media presence should be effective in engaging with your audience to add value to your practice.
This article will provide a fairly extensive and actionable guide about social media for dentists to help you add more value to your practice through social best practices and engaging content tips.
FUN MOTIVATING FACT: Did you know that Facebook has 1 BILLION registered users, and 699 million daily active users? There's a pretty good chance that a few thousand or more of those users are located right in your backyard.
You CAN Become a Social Dental Practice!
Before we dive in, I want to show what can be possible for any dental practice using social media, as demonstrated by Dr. Greg Pitts, D.D.S.:
1. Define Your Social Media Strategy
Just like any marketing effort, you need to start with a plan.
And just like any plan, you will want to answer some foundational questions to make sure your social media strategy is measurable, effective and contributes to your practice's overall marketing strategy.
Here are a few questions you should answer to establish the foundation for a proper social media strategy:
- Who is my target audience? Who do I want to reach via social media? Where does my target audience hang out?
- Is my target audience mobile-based, desktop-based, or both? (This could determine types of content you'd like to share)
- What is the primary reason my practice is going to be on social media?
- What metrics do I want to track in order to measure my social media success?
- What SMART goals are important to set that will help gauge social media's impact on my practice and marketing strategy?
- What types of content would my target audience find appealing and shareable?
- If I'm using social media to also attract new patients, what metrics or click paths (funnels) should I setup or measure to gauge social media as an effective lead generation channel?
This list is by no means complete, but it should give you an idea of what kinds of things you should be thinking about and what you should include in your social media marketing plan.
GET SOME HELP WITH OUR FREE STRATEGY PACK: While our marketing strategy template pack was originally meant for building an overall inbound marketing strategy, it could also be used to establish your social media specific plan as well.
2. Choose Your Social Media Platforms
Earlier in this article I shared a list of recommended questions to help you build your social media strategy. Among those questions was "where does my target audience hang out?". The answer to this question will be your single biggest driving factor that helps you select the proper social media channels.
Before you can start posting, tweeting, liking or reacting, you need to understand your audience and where they are hanging out. If they are all on Facebook and you're only using Twitter and Pinterest, it's like singing karaoke at an empty bar while all your fans in the bar next door. Seems like a waste of time, right?
FACEBOOK: There's a pretty good chance that Facebook is going to be a part of your strategy, regardless of audience details. I say that because it's probably the one social platform that spans most (or all) demographics, age groups, location, genders, etc. This statement alone is the reason why parts of this article farther down will seem to talk about Facebook more than others.
TWITTER: In the years that I've been using Twitter, I've gotten a fair amount of pushback from clients who say "I don't use Twitter and I doubt my customers or patients do either". While I will pick and choose which of those battles I will agree or disagree with, I have noticed that there are several dental practices on Twitter that have pretty healthy follower counts. While I haven't extenstively studied the popular profiles, I would guess that popular Twitter dentists are located more in metropolitan areas versus smaller towns.
INSTAGRAM: I've seen several dental practices nailing Instagram like a boss, especially for behind the scenes, photos with patients, and with self-created hashtag campaigns that help drive engagement. Like all platforms, you can mimic other practices' successes with the right plan, motivation and consistency.
LINKEDIN: The audience on LinkedIn, of course, is going to be more professional, meaning you'll probably have better luck connecting with fellow dentists and their practices rather than patients.
PINTEREST: Similar to Instagram, Pinterest has the potential to be a more visual platform, offering photography, visual ideas and brainstorms, and infographics. Since its inception, Pinterest has drawn a more female audience due to its creative interface, organizing nature and scrapbooking / pinboard feel. However, over the years they've had their share of male users as well.
SNAPCHAT: SnapChat is still the runt of the social litter when it comes to business, but it offers businesses of all kinds an unique way to interact with the next generation of consumers, primarily high school and college students. It's reach has been increasing, but you can't ignore that their bread and butter audience could very well be your next wave of adult patients.
3. Setup (or Enhance) Your Social Media Profiles
Once you've figured out where you're going to be active, now it's time to setup or enhance those profiles.
It's crucial that you take the time to do a few major things on each platform while setting up your account and profile:
COMPLETE 100% OF YOUR PROFILE: There are so many incomplete profiles out there that it can be hard to tell if the user was just lazy or if they are a spambot or some kind. Taking the time to properly complete your profile with all available fields, both required and optional, helps to validate the authenticity of your account and prove to the rest of the world that there are real people behind the social facade that represents your business and brand.
USE YOUR OWN PHOTOGRAPHY: Just like your website should feature professional photography of your business and your staff, your social media profiles should also do the same. This provides another level of authenticity and validation that you're a real business with real customers and a real flair for nailing this social media thing.
KEEP YOUR PROFILES CONSISTENT: Whether someone is visiting your Facebook profile, your Twitter profile or your Instagram profile, they should immediately recognize your brand. If you are currently engaged in a companywide marketing campaign, make sure the photography, graphics or colors used in the campaign are on your website, your social profiles and anywhere else consumers may come into contact with your brand.
This also applies to your social web addresses. If you can, try and match all of your addresses, for example: facebook.com/MyCoolBusiness should match twitter.com/MyCoolBusiness. Sometimes other businesses with similar names have already taken your desired name, which makes this easier said than done. But whenever possible, try and keep these consistent.
4. Establish a Social Editorial Calendar
Once your profiles are all setup and you feel they represent your dental practice's brand perfectly, now comes the fun part: posting and sharing!
At first it can be difficult to figure out how, when and what to post on a regular basis, and that's ok! I don't want you to think you need to be at full throttle out of the starting gate. However, in order to start to establish that consistency, it will make your life a whole lot easier if your dental office team can establish a shared social editorial calendar.
A social editorial calendar can help you do 3 things:
- Provide a central location for all brainstorming and scheduling for the entire team
- Allow you to see what's coming up and adjust content according to marketing campaigns
- See what kinds of content people are posting. Quotes, humor and real patient testimonails and experiences usually work well, but whatever it is, try to make it something shareable.
An easy way to make an editorial calendar is to use a shared service like Google Drive (with Google Spreadsheets) or save a local spreadsheet file in a service like DropBox where everyone can open and add to it.
5. Take Advantage of the Analytics Each Platform Offers
Whichever platform(s) you are active on, be sure to find and bookmark each platform's built-in analytics dashboard. Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, to name a few, provide excellent feedback into what content is working for your practice.
Using that data, you'll be able to see what people are liking and sharing so that you can produce more of the same to see if you can increase engagement. Analytics allow you to test the waters between what you think might work and what actually is working.
6. Consider Boosting or Retargeting Popular Organic Posts with Paid Social Ads
What’s the best place to remind people they’ve been to your practice and need to book an appointment, or read reviews about your practice?
Facebook. (Remember our fun fact statistic above? It’s highly probable that your patients are among the billion folks on Facebook.)
If you get 2,000 clicks per month to your website, you can retarget the Facebook ads to drive incredibly cheap, targeted clicks to your site. Facebook ads are significantly more cost-effective than their television, radio, or print media counterparts.
From my experience, a general rule of thumb when selecting which Facebook post to boost is to select the one(s) that are getting the most attention organically, meaning naturally and at no cost to you. By boosting posts that your immediate audience loves, there's a greater chance that your extended audience will love it too, so give it a try!
Social media is a great tool for dentists to build value and create relationships with their existing patients and can potentially be an attractant for new patients, just like Dr. Pitts in the video above. But in order to tap into all of the power and potential that social media offers, you need to have a plan, you need to do it right, and you need to have an open mind so that you can do you best to stay in control of the conversation and reputation that forms around your brand's social presence.
Now get your practice out there and conquer your social media! (and if you need assistance, we're here to help!)