The Top 3 Ways for Dentists to Recruit New Patients Using Social Media

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.

1.       Participation

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.

2.       Integration

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?

3.       Promotion

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?


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+Chris Barnard is the Managing Partner at Social Dental Network, a boutique digital marketing agency consistently generating tangible return on investment for dentists across North America & the U.K.