The Social Media Approach Your Dental Practice Needs
by Sarah Al-Daghreer, on August 6, 2019
The idea of coasting off of your great reputation as your main lead generation strategy is a comfortable one, but is no longer realistic, or ideal. There was a time where dental practices operated almost solely on word of mouth marketing with the help of their happy patients, but in the age of information, those referrals can only go so far.
The truth is, your patients are using social media, and they’re most likely logging in to their favorite platforms on a daily basis. Another truth is that your patients do share stories about their life, more specifically, their experiences with businesses on these platforms. Prospective patients are also privy to ads on these platforms, follow businesses and accounts of interest, and interact with them when necessary.
With 2.77 billion social media users across the globe, you’d be crazy not to run to your computer right now and create your accounts. Before you jump right in, however, there are a few things to take into account, be wary of, and understand before it’s time to activate your profiles, and begin to use them for business purposes.
The dental industry is expected to be worth 36.8 billion by 2021. This means there’s heavy competition, and dental professionals just like you using all the same platforms, targeting roughly the same patients, and trying their best to be as visible and credible as possible online. Who can blame them? Social media is the best place to do this, and consistent patient flow is certainly key.
Due to these high numbers and all that’s at stake, it’s important to implement a strategy before going too crazy with posting, sharing, and following. Without a strategy, it’s extremely likely your social efforts will go nowhere - with one, however, you have identified a main goal, are actively working towards it, and have ideal end results in mind.
There are some advantages that come with your industry that don’t necessarily come with others.
As a dental practice, there’s no need for you to sell the importance of oral care to your desired prospects - chances are, everyone knows the dentist is important. There doesn’t need to be any heavy marketing of your services, no pushes for crazy deals or promotions that could end up costing you money, or extensive campaigns to get people interested in your industry. Most adults are visiting the dentist twice yearly, so the need to convince is obsolete - the only thing left in the way is the need to convince these prospects that your practice is the one to go to.
This means that your social strategy does not come down to promotion or fancy campaigns, but earning trust and credibility. This means that your online goals are different from other businesses, and your priorities are in different places.
There are certain elements you should include in your strategy, and certain things you shouldn’t be incorporating. It’s okay to have fun online, but as a practice in a medical industry, credibility and relationship building should be the key elements you’re focusing on throughout the development of your strategy.
- Establish Relationships Before Worrying About Too Much Else
Building relationships and making connections online with your prospective and current patients will be one of the most important things you can do as a practice. This will help to show your patients that there is a human element to what you do, and that when they interact with your practice on any social platform, there is a real person behind that screen.
Dental practices can be intimidating enough to those that dislike their semi annual dental visits, and if the interactions with a practice aren’t natural and easy, this can be even more anxiety inducing.
There are many ways to build relationships and, more importantly, build trust online. First things first, there are direct interactions - if patients approach you on any of your social platforms with questions, comments, or concerns, make sure you have someone from your team monitoring this activity consistently so they can always be answered in a timely fashion. If they can speak to a real person when they’re concerned or confused, this will instill a certain level of trust within you and your practice. This is just one way to be present online, and appear extremely credible to anyone that may be considering your services.
Personal interactions are great, but not the only way to build credibility! Consider the following:
- Publish Your Patient Testimonials
Any kind of testimonial and review can be extremely powerful and persuasive to any reader. These snippets of text can give prospects insight into what kind of experience they can expect from your practice, how other experiences have gone, the pros and cons of your practice, and even how good you are at your job.
Patient testimonials also display that you have a loyal patient base, or any patient base at all. There’s comfort in numbers, and prospects will like to see you have tons of experience.
When it comes to your social media platforms, you’ll want to publish your best and brightest in order to display your practice in a positive light. Consider posting them on a regular basis to consistently promote your practice, provide reassurance to anyone that may be interacting with your profiles, and begin to build trusting relationships with potential patients. Publishing reviews is also an easy way to generate content to aid your strategy, and can help you to appear very active and present online.
- Fill out All Necessary Information
As important as the sheer existence of your social profiles are, the amount of detail that has been put into them is even more crucial.
If you’re going to be active on social, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. In order for your practice to get the most out of these pages, you want to make sure that you have all the necessary information filled out for each account. Just the name of your practice and your chosen specialties aren’t enough.
You need your location, phone number, exact street address, all other relevant contact information, specialties, and website listed in the bio of each of your accounts. This is important for a few reasons. Firstly, 15% of people neglect to book an appointment with a dental specialist because they have difficulty finding an office. In order to avoid this issue, make it very simple for interested prospects to find you!
Having all information filled out and being completely transparent with contact details is also another way to build credibility. This shows you have nothing to hide, you’re local, and here to help them in any way you can.
- Show Your Audience Why You’re Different
The bottom line is, patients have options. Dental is a huge industry, and there are plenty of offices to choose from that offer a wide range of specialties - you may offer the same thing as a practice down the street. So, why should your prospects choose you, and trust you to do the best work?
This is a question you’ll have to answer with the content you choose to post and share, if you’d like positive results. Your social strategy should be focused on showing why your practice is the best to fit their needs, how exactly you can help them, how you’ve helped patients in the past, and what sets you apart. Why are you the people to do the job? How have your previous patients been satisfied?
This has a lot to do with your personal brand, and committing to the experience you promised to your patients when you initially created your brand, and chose your niche. Remember that your brand is an experience that you promise to your patients, not just a logo or a slogan.
- Be Personable
No one is expecting anyone in a medical industry to be fun and carefree. You can change this dynamic, or make it your own personal brand to publish more light hearted, easygoing content.
You can humanize your practice and be more personable online by showing off your employees, or promoting a team atmosphere in your practice. If users see that your team is valued, appreciated, and genuinely enjoys their work, you’ll be in the beginning stages of painting your practice in a very positive light.
Having your employees create their own content and post it, or feature themselves in your social campaigns is even better. This will promote autonomy in the workplace, maybe even show off members of your community. There are chances for your followers to recognize or know them, helping to build those personal connections between patient and dentist.
Remember that the amount of likes you receive, and the amount of followers you generate doesn’t necessarily mean your profiles are successful. If you can interact with your patients and prospects on a consistent basis, reach them with great content, and build meaningful, trusting connections online, this means your social strategy is not only working, but thriving in all the ways you need it to.
- Use the Right Platforms for Your Industry
This may be the most important takeaway when considering the best route to take for your social strategy.
When asking yourself what platform would be the best one to invest time into, the correct answer will never be “all of them”. Each social platform serves a different purpose, reaches a different audience, and allows you to post and promote differently. We’ll go over popular platforms below, and outline the ones that best promote your practice.
There are 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every day, and visuals are a powerful thing when it comes to the dental industry. More often than not, patients are dying to see those dramatic before and after shots that will give them that push to go with that orthodontic procedure. Video demonstrations are even better to give your patients a precise idea of what they can expect, how it all works, and how you’re going to change their life.
While using video to serve strictly dental demonstration purposes is a fantastic idea, the opportunities for content don’t end there. This unique channel lets you use it for a variety of purposes that will help to better promote your practice in a fun, easy, and entertaining way. These options include, but aren’t limited to:
- Themed daily/weekly/monthly segments
- Office and work space tours
- Question and answer periods
- Practice and industry related news and updates
- Demonstrate your procedures
- Give tips and advice for common questions
Videos are all the rage in social media and content marketing. As it stands, it’s predicted that this year 80% of global internet consumption will be video content. If you’re looking for an effective social strategy in 2019, look no further!
We've even included the best time to post!
This image based platform is the next in line after YouTube, as it pertains to the dental industry. Instagram has so much potential for powerful content that your users will love to see and interact with.
There are many unique options for how you can use Instagram to best promote your practice, and showcase exactly what you do. Surprisingly, your patients can play a substantial role in this method of social marketing.
After a cosmetic procedure or after being given a brand new smile, where do you think your patients turn to to show their friends and family? Instagram is a hub for selfies, and there’s no better place to show off a brand new smile than right in this app. You can ask your patients to promote your practice in their caption if they post their new smile, and are satisfied with your work - you can even hold photo contests for the best smile! The sky's the limit when it comes to creative ways to bring attention to your practice on this platform.
When it comes to your own profile, you have many ways you can play it. Some ideas you can play around with in the app are:
- Your best before and after examples, especially if your focus is on cosmetic dentistry
- Demonstrations to take advantage of Instagram’s video content options
- Tips and tricks composed of visually appealing infographics
- Branded hashtags with your practice name and industry terms
If you still aren’t convinced, Instagram has some pretty impressive statistics under its’ belt. Users like 4.2 billion posts per day, and 95 million posts are made on the platform each day.
While platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are still in the cards for your industry, these two image and video based apps have the most potential for engagement and high volumes of traffic.