Social media is not so new anymore, is your dental practice missing the opportunity to connect with your existing patients and surrounding local community, or are you just waiting for every other dentist in town to climb aboard the social media train?
Fortune favors the brave.
Most likely your dental practice marketing budget surpassed your CE budget a long time ago, and that’s not just because of state prerequisites or assorted travel nightmares associated with the yearly clinical CE requirements. Your dental practice survives – and thrives – from recruiting new patients and retaining existing patients. CE is what enables you to keep pace with technological advancements, remain qualified, and generally maintaining your dental practice competency.
When you attend a dental CE course, you probably do your best to ensure you are getting the most out of the course as possible. Does the same hold true for your practice marketing?
Here are some easy ways to incorporate the new and profitable world of social media into your dental practice in order to maximize return on investment – whether that is time, or money, or both.
Social media is all about participation. In order for your dental practice to profit from social media efforts, participation is paramount!
If you haven’t already, start a Facebook Business Page and Twitter profile for your dental practice, it’s easy and free. While you’re at it, LinkedIn should also develop into an integral part of your dental practice social media plan. Facebook and Twitter handle the marketing aspect – recruiting new patients, and enlisting existing patients toward that end – and LinkedIn provides the credibility and online reputation management so important in today’s digital world.
Google is the most popular website in the world, and every dentist we know wants to be there. Those of you that have been struggling with this desire to understand the hurdles involved with obtaining that Google recognition. Guess what the number two most popular website in the world is…Facebook. And all you have to do is take 10 minutes to initiate your dental practice business page – a heck of a lot easier than courting Google’s ever changing search algorithms.
LinkedIn can also be useful in developing, nurturing, and capitalizing on existing offline professional relationships. If you currently receive referrals from another dentist in town, or a specialist, or maybe you oversee a colleague’s practice while they’re off attending CE or on a vacation; LinkedIn is your professional digital practice connection.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have the potential to generate positive return on investment for your dental practice marketing plan, but first you need to join the fun.
Another word on participation; dental practice social media should be a constantly evolving medium of local community and patient communication. If you’re outlook is, “let’s try it out and see what happens,” you’re doomed. Social media for the dental practice is not a time specific campaign; it is something that needs to be incorporated into your normal practice management in order to remain visible and relevant to the public. There is no expiration date.
We’ve covered the obvious, but participation alone will not guarantee your dental practice social media success. Social media for the dental practice is not a field of dreams, there is no “if you build it, they will come.” After you initiate the prerequisite social media profiles for your dental practice, you then need to integrate those channels with any existing practice marketing in which you currently partake.
Get your practice Facebook page directly linked to your practice website(s), same goes for Twitter and LinkedIn. Aside from easily allowing website visitors a more personal window into your practice, the backlinks generated from your regular participation will eventually lead to a greater degree of online practice visibility. Meaning, the more links you have coming into your website(s), the better. Your social media profiles enable you to take control of this critical ingredient of having your site(s) found when people search online for a dentist in their area. Remember the Google struggle?
While you’re at it, integrate your practice social media profiles with every piece of dental marketing you currently utilize. And be sure to include your practice social profiles with any new practice marketing you undertake. Synergy is the goal; and the practical application of social media for the dental practice combined with existing dental marketing can take you from zero to hero in a hurry.
Does your dental newsletter enable recipients to connect with your practice on Facebook?
Did you know LinkedIn can help you solve staff recruitment issues?
How can Twitter possibly help your practice recruit new patients?
The third key we’ll discuss here to using social media for the dental practice effectively is a little self promotion. Of course Twitter can help you recruit more new patients, by simply offering a discount or special offer Twitter goes from inane online text message to local dental patient recruitment medium.
If someone can potentially save money from simply ‘following’ your dental practice, wouldn’t you think they’d do so?
It’s just up to you to develop, publish, and regularly track the social media promotions you probably already run in some form or another.
Run a promotion to recruit ‘followers’ on Twitter and ‘Likes’ on Facebook, then reward participation. Give away a toothbrush, enter all your patients in a raffle, or even cross promote some existing national level dental news. April was National Oral Cancer Awareness month, you could have used Facebook and Twitter to locally market your “Free Oral Cancer Screening Day” to keep existing patients up to speed, and even recruit new patients.
The opportunities to profit from social media in your dental practice are virtually limitless, but participation, integration, and promotion are paramount to your success. Just missing one of these essential ingredients can take your dental practice social media sojourn from an enjoyable and profitable experience, to a waste of time and money.
How will you apply social media in your dental practice?
What has been your experience with social media?
Why have you not yet secured your good name on 3 of the Top 20 most popular websites in the world?
What are you waiting for?
Sure social media is a great way to get your practice some social street cred, and dedicated local search efforts will get your practice listed within the highly visible local search engine environments. But, communication is the engine behind any dental practice marketing.
And communication is a two-way street.
In order for your dental practice to start effectively communicating through social media and local search, you first need to define who it is you are targeting, and what it is exactly that you will be communicating.
With the interest of generating some digital word of mouth, your existing patients are the audience, and enlisting their help is the message.
Believe it or not people actually like to help.
And by constructing this virtual patient communications foundation from digital practice word of mouth, you can enlist their help to acquire more new local patients all while improving the level of care (read: increasing profit per patient) for your loyal existing patients that are so willing to spread the positive word of mouth.
Your dental practice needs your patients’ help. Gone are the days of only reaching out to your patients a week before their next appointment to warn them about cancellation fees.
Today it is essential to maintain patient communications above and beyond what was formerly considered the norm. The dentist-patient communication paradigm has shifted.
From a practice visibility and dental social media marketing standpoint, the relationship has become symbiotic. But only for the smart practices out there actively nurturing, collecting, and digitally broadcasting existing patient word of mouth.
Would you ‘Like’ to be the most highly recommended dentist in your local area?
Go From Telling to Asking
So many dentally focused patient communications ‘TELL’ us what to do – schedule an appointment, whiten your teeth, screen for oral cancer…etc. We suggest taking more of an ‘ASK’ approach.
Ask your existing patients to partner in your success!
- Ask patients to follow your practice on Twitter.
- Ask patients to ‘Like’ your practice on Facebook.
- Ask patients why they choose you to be their dentist.
- Ask patients how you can improve or enhance their dental care.
- Ask your patients to submit a review of you and your practice in their chosen online community.
The best part is your patients are totally willing to lend a hand with increasing your online practice visibility.
But you need to ask them to do so otherwise they will continue to only communicate with your practice twice a year – if you’re lucky.
If you’re not so lucky, some other dentist in town will be happy to ask your patients how they can improve their dental care and save a few bucks at the same time.
If you’re afraid to ask the questions, or hear the answers, you might have more pressing concerns.
If that’s the case, your patients are already broadcasting your worst fears to their friends, followers, colleagues, families, and so on and so on and so on.
Either way you cut it, you are doing your dental practice and your local community an incredible disservice by not participating in the conversation.
It’s been said a good mechanic, a good doctor, and a good mattress, are life essentials. A good pair of shoes couldn’t hurt either. Maybe attorney, accountant, and dentist should be added to the list too.
A monitored and engaging digital footprint is fast becoming an essential addition to the dental practice online visibility and new patient acquisition equation.
Will your dental practice keep step with the rhythm?
Do you know where your patients congregate online to discuss such things?
Is your practice a visible member of the online local community or are you a card-carrying member of the silent majority?
Take a tip from Tempur-Pedic®, in case you haven’t seen their TV commercial here it is:
Get in the game Maverick, it’s time to engage!
Facebook recently opened up a new version of their ‘Questions’ tool functionality. If Facebook or social media in general was not on your practice radar, you need to seek professional help!
It’s been discussed ad nauseam how social media is the hottest new thing and you can’t possibly continue practicing dentistry without at least a cursory practice presence on the second most popular website in the world. We won’t continue to beat you over the head with that message, for this week that is.
Facebook Questions is basically word of mouth gone viral – in their words, “Get answers from people you trust.” Can you see the connection between Facebook Questions and your dental practice?
Picture this scenario…
A prospective dental patient – we’ll call her Mary for the sake of this example – is online searching for a quality dentist in the area. She is new to the neighborhood, but has been chatting up the other Moms at open school nights and coffee klatches. Mary is often seen with mobile phone in hand, so she is familiar with finding quick answers to her questions.
Instead of calling all the other Moms, or asking neighbors, with the help of Facebook Questions, Mary can now reach out to all of those people in her search for a new family dentist. In less than a minute Mary can not only query her list of Facebook friends, but also friends of friends. And so on, and so on…and so on.
If the picture is not crystal clear by now, please forgive our futile attempt at a subtle suggestive scenario.
Consider this, Facebook Questions now allows users to learn from each other, see where other people stand, and share what they know. All in a simple practice page application.
If you cannot make the connection here to how Facebook Questions can help your dental practice recruit new patients, keep more existing patients, increase your online practice visibility, and generally amplify practice word of mouth, please let us know – leave a comment, post a concern, let us know why you can’t see the potential of Facebook Questions as a worthy addition to your patient communications toolbox.
If we can understand the reticence from the dental practice perspective, maybe we can help you navigate your way around the perceived obstacles. Social Dental Network is winning the hearts and minds of North American dental practices every day!