It’s amazing to think there was a time before Google and Bing when we actually picked up a heavy phone book and called the dentist to make an appointment. We’d look to friends and family for recommendations or stick to our family dentist. Today, people are going online and using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to search for a dental office.
Creating a social media presence for your practice is easy to accomplish and it can achieve the following:
Make it easier for existing patients to refer you to their friends
Improve access to patients by providing tips, insights, and other useful advice
Post dental treatment content that people will want to share, allowing patients to learn more about your clinical procedures
The most popular social media platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest (1). This will explain what these accounts can do to promote your practice, how you can set them up, and how to get the best marketing mileage out of each of them.
Where permitted, hundreds of thousands dentists across the globe use Facebook to communicate with their current patients and interact with new ones. Setting up a business page on Facebook is nearly as straightforward as creating a personal one. You simply:
1. Sign up for an account.
2. Give the page a name (usually the name of your practice).
3. Post a profile photo and a cover photo. Most businesses use their logos as the profile photo and an image of their location, products, or services as the cover photo. For profile pictures and cover photos with your logo or text, you may get a better result by using a PNG file. For more information about image sizing look at Facebook’s recommendations linked here.
4. Write a short paragraph to tell people about the services your practice offers. You can also add a call-to-action button that directs page visitors to take a certain action, such as call your practice or visit its website (2).
Once you launch your practice page, it is important you use it to its maximum advantage because Facebook is all about sharing information and fostering conversations. Your announcements and posts should be both, informative and conducive to sharing. For example:
Keep people engaged by posting a few times a week. You can share insightful content of the newest developments in dentistry from other dental pages, ask a question to your followers, or post information about an upcoming promotion (3).
Interact with people who ‘like’ your page and comment on your status updates and posts. Facebook is a highly social platform, so engaging with your followers increases the success of your page (3).
Be sure to use impactful visuals. This includes professional cover and profile photos as well as tutorial videos that could, for example, demonstrate proper brushing techniques or how a certain tooth whitening process works (5). Your audience will probably not like images of invasive dental procedures, but cosmetic transformations and especially before-and-after pictures might be popular and “share” worthy for them (6).
People use Twitter to send and read short messages known as ‘tweets’. Each message is limited to 280 characters, so it is best used to share quick tips and article links.
Like Facebook, you can customize your Twitter page to include your branding. User behaviour is however different and so is the typical audience of Twitter. Facebook allows people to ‘like’ and ‘share’ your posts, while your Twitter followers will ‘favourite’ or ‘retweet’ your tweets. You can also reach a different audience through Twitter because users like to have quick to read, business type content.
Setting up an account is easy, so you can connect with patients and professional peers in minutes. To benefit the most from your Twitter profile, send messages frequently and ensure that each one is directed to patients. Examples include: “Just a reminder that we close at noon on Christmas Eve” and “This article has great tips for keeping your children’s teeth healthy.”
Twitter was the first social media platform to use hashtags, which is the # sign followed by a word. People and businesses will use popular hashtags if their tweets are relevant to the topic represented by the tag. For example, if you post a tip on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you could add the hashtag #dentaltip. Your tweet would then look like this:
“Keep your smile healthy by visiting us every six months. #dentaltip”
Twitter, Facebook and certain social media outlets such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Google+ have a feature that enables users to search for posts with a particular hashtag. By adding a hashtag like #HighStDentalSays or #CleanSmilesTips, you will make it easier for your followers to find all of your announcements.
YouTube is the world’s leading video network, with an average of four billion videos being
watched every single day (8). Over a million businesses presently have their own YouTube channel, dentists included.
According to digital marketing leader Hubspot, video will account for over 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019. If that is not reason enough to include YouTube in your marketing toolkit, Hubspot also says that video influences 90% of the buying decisions of consumers.
There are many ways for your practice to use video as a promotional tool. Examples include:
A practice tour
Q & A
When viewers find your content useful and engaging, they will share the video links on their own social media accounts, spreading awareness of your business even further.
To sign up for a business channel, you need to have two things: a Gmail account (because YouTube is a subsidiary of Google) and a mobile number. Once you have both, simply follow these instructions to create your channel.
Pinterest is a photo sharing site that visually resembles a pin-board. Users create image collections dedicated to a particular theme, such as a hobby, interest, or news event. Pinterest is interactive, so users can visit one another’s boards and ‘like’ images or ‘re-pin’ them to their own boards.
Pinterest has high visual appeal, which is important at a time when video is becoming the most powerful marketing tool available. It also creates more referral traffic on the web than many of the top social media outlets combined.
So how can you use Pinterest to promote your practice? Here are some tips:
Upload impressive before-and-after patient treatment photos (with their permission)
Upload attractive, professional-quality photos of yourself, your staff, and the office
If you have a blog attached to your practice website, pin its posts (9).
Signing up for a Pinterest account is easy. You can then create boards organized by category, such as ‘Dentistry for Children’, ‘Cosmetic Teeth Whitening’, or any other titles that describe the services you offer, and start adding content.
As you can see, social media is an effective resource for making your practice accessible to more patients. By sharing dental information, tips, and videos across a variety of different platforms, you engage in a conversation with people and present your practice in a positive light.
If you feel as though this is a bit too advanced for where you are in your dental journey, consider starting with setting up your practice website. For tips follow this link.