As a dentist, do you spend any of your spare time on social media? Odds are, you do. Most people spend at least some time on social media, which means your patients are probably spending time there, too.
Personally, I’m most familiar with these social media giants: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest, but there are many others—some of which are even more popular among certain groups than the ones I listed here.
I won’t talk much about the specific social media networks in this post, but I will address why it’s so important as a dental practice to be present on social media, and I’ll offer some tips for expanding your brand name online—with whichever social media network(s) you choose.
Why Is Dental Marketing on Social Media Important for Your Practice?
Dental marketing on social media is important for a few reasons:
- Keeps your office name in front of your patients beyond their appointments
- Helps you establish trust and authority among your followers
- Gives you an outlet to share educative and informative dental health information so your patients, and other followers, know how to better care for their teeth
- Promotes specials, discounts and in-house dental plans to patients and others online
- Helps you acquire new patients who may never have heard of your office
- Gives your office a face and personality to help your patients get to know you, beyond the hour they spend in your office once or twice a year
- Provides another avenue to compete with your competitors. Odds are, your competitors are already on social media
Reasons You Should Be Doing Social Media Marketing for Your Practice
So…maybe there are more than just a few reasons why dental marketing is important for your practice. Below, I’ll talk in more detail about each one of the seven reasons I listed above and I’ll provide specific examples of efficient and effective ways to use social media for the best results.
1. Keeps your office name in front of patients beyond their appointments
Do you have patients who regularly avoid your calls or forget to schedule follow-up appointments? Are there patients you’ve given specific home-care instructions to because their teeth were in really bad shape when you saw them? Do you have a patient who asks a lot of dental questions when they’re in the office?
If any of these scenarios are true for you, social media is a great tool to utilize. Why? These patients are probably on social media. And if they’re on social media, you can meet them where they are and where they feel comfortable to address these issues.
BONUS: If you’re not having to spend as much time answering questions in the office because you’re answering them online, you’re able to take more patients and make more money for your business!
2. Helps you establish trust and authority with existing and potential patients
If you get on social media, you don’t want to just create an account. You should be present on social media.
Now, I’m not saying you need to be on social media all day, every day, but I am saying you shouldn’t create an account and then just ignore it. This is one of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen dental practices make.
Post pictures of company and community events you take part in. Share relevant and helpful articles. Respond to your followers’ questions and comments.
Be present. Answer their questions. This will establish trust, authority and credibility. You know what you’re talking about. You’re the expert. Show them that.
3. Gives you an outlet to share educative and informative dental health information so your patients know how to better care for their teeth at home
Use your social media pages to share relevant, helpful content about dental health habits with your patients. Teach them, going above and beyond what you have time to discuss in appointments. Offer tips for caring for teeth, advise how to care for kids’ teeth, share signs and symptoms they should watch for on their own (for oral cancer or other dental diseases), give them some tips for healthy eating, etc.
Let’s be honest. When it comes to dental education, resources are often lacking. My only experience with dental education growing up was when a dentist came out, for a single day, to talk to students at my elementary school about caring for our teeth. That’s it. Most likely, your patients are in the same boat.
You are their teacher. They go to you to learn what they’re doing right and wrong when it comes to caring for their teeth, and, of course, fix any issues that come up.
Want to see patients coming into your office with healthier teeth and gums? Teach them how to care for their oral health.
Afraid you won’t have much to say? What about health topics? You know, probably more than I, how strong the connection is between overall health and dental health. People need to know that their oral hygiene habits affect more than just their teeth.
For instance, what foods should they be eating? We just shared an article on our social media pages the other day about how dentists often don’t tell parents what their kids should and should not be eating or drinking for their dental health. There are appropriate ways to approach these subjects, and not all of your patients’ doctors may be passing along that information. You see these patients more than their doctors do. You can be that voice for them.
Like I said earlier, you’re the expert. Show your followers that. With all of the information that can be found online today, people need expert opinions.
4. Offers a platform to promote specials, discounts and in-house dental plans throughout the year to existing and potential patients
Social media is a great place to promote specials, discounts and in-house dental plans.
Even if you mention these specials in your office, you can (and should!) be directing your patients to your social media pages so they can follow along. They might forget what you told them in the office or miss your reminder email. Social media is a great way to keep these things at the forefront of your patients’ minds.
Not to mention, it’s a great place to share!
If you only tell your patients about a promotion while they’re in the office…
- They might forget.
- They probably will not remember all of the details, so they won’t feel confident enough to share the information with others.
If you also share this promotion on your social media pages, your patients…
- Will be reminded of this promotion when they get on social media.
- Will have all of the details about the promotion.
- Can easily hit “Share” on your post to extend the promotion opportunity to friends and family (many of whom may not be patients of yours yet).
5. Brings you more patients who have never heard of your office
There are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Encourage your existing followers/patients to share your posts (whether it’s a blog post, special or promotion) with their friends and family.
- Update your social profile, post consistently and use industry-relevant keywords on your page (dentist, dental practice, dental appointments, dental visits, etc.). Including keywords can help increase your visibility in organic social listings (although this is becoming less common because of paid social advertising).
- Use paid social advertising. While many networks have this option, we have seen a lot of success on Facebook. You can target people in your town or city, as well as people who fit your typical patient demographic.
Do you have mostly seniors at your office? How about working professionals? What about parents? Do you get a good mix of all ages and demographics? Target one of them; target a few of them; target all of them!
Paid advertising places your page (and brand) in front of potential patients.
BONUS: Facebook even provides customizable calls-to-action for your Facebook business page. Have a button labeled “Schedule an Appointment” that leads to a “Schedule an Appointment” form or an office phone number, so new customers (and maybe existing ones) can easily set up an appointment at your office.
6. Creates a face and personality for your office to help your patients get to know you, beyond the hour they spend in your office once or twice a year
Like I mentioned before, Facebook gives your office a face. (See the connection there?). Share company photos, new office decorations, community events, celebrations, etc. Give your practice a face.
Here are some great examples of dental offices who do this well:
TenderCare Dental has several locations in the Portland, OR, metro area. They do a great job of being consistent and present on their page. They offer personal information about their practice (events, specials, patient success stories, etc.), educational resources about caring for your teeth outside of the dental office, feature videos and more.
They’re also active on several social media channels: Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. If you’re a small practice, this might be too much to handle on your own. (Don’t try to stretch yourself too thin!). But you can at least pick one or two social media channels and maintain an active presence on the ones you choose.
My Dentists have discovered a fun method of posting on their social media pages. They take visually appealing images like the ones above and add informative, educational and encouraging content to each one.
They provide helpful information for their followers while engaging with them in a way that is interesting. They also share content that is relevant to the changing seasons and events. See how they do this in the 9/11 acknowledgment or the summer afternoon quote? You even see it in the Back-to-School pencil image.
Dr. Howard M. Steinberg
Dr. Steinberg uses his personal name to promote his practice, and he has done so successfully. He produces a lot of helpful content for his followers, while also sharing his patients’ experiences with his practice. He posts consistently and often and is attentive to any engagement he gets on his pages. He shares a lot of content produced by other dentists and dental organizations, which goes to show he is a great team player and understands the advantages of social media marketing for every practice.
Another example of a dental office that utilizes social media well is Coast Dental. They use their social media pages primarily for office updates. However, they still post relevant content to their users – memes, informational videos, etc.
7. Provides another avenue to compete with your competitors.
By this time, most of your competitors are probably already on social media. It’s not too late to compete with them, though! Just get into the game and set your pages up.
Some of your competitors may have even lost steam in their social media efforts. Being active on social media takes time and hard work. You may not see immediate results. You may run out of steam, too, and start to post and engage less and less. This is where hiring a third-party company, who will get to know your brand and practice and will do these tasks for you, can help!
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In the coming months, we’ll share specific steps you can follow to engage with patients on social media and start reaping the benefits of what we’ve listed here. We’ll talk about where to begin, what you should and should not try and how to manage ongoing social media efforts in the midst of your already busy schedule. It’s worth it!