A Social Media Cheat Sheet for dentists
Many dental professionals sense their practice should be involved in social media somehow, but beyond signing up for a personal profile and creating a company page, most aren’t exactly sure what kind of action to take on social media platforms like Facebook.
Just like treatment planning in dentistry, building and growing a Facebook Page is best broken down into manageable phases that can be easily achieved over time. Here, we examine four phases to successful Facebook marketing for your practice.
Phase 1: Get the Staff on Board
As you’ve likely learned from previous practice ventures, success hinges on staff buy-in. Before you begin marketing your practice on Facebook, ensure your entire staff is on board. This means:
- Everyone in the practice believes marketing is critical for ongoing success
- Everyone in the practice believes marketing should be an important priority and is on
board with promoting the practice in new and different ways
- An employee, aside from the dentist, has been designated responsible for Facebook
- Everyone in the practice understands their online behavior on Facebook and beyond
can have significant impact on the practice
Phase 2: Determine Your Assets
Once your staff is on board, determine your current print and digital assets. Marketing agencies can update many of your print assets like brochures, patient testimonials and direct mail pieces for a fresh look on the Web. Agencies can also create a custom logo and other digital graphic assets for you to utilize in your marketing efforts.
Phase 3: Learn the Rules of Engagement
While many social media users have profiles on multiple platform s, engagement on those platforms is often different. For example, Twitter users only h ave 140 characters per tweet to express themselves, whereas Facebook users’ posts can go on for paragraphs. Because the platforms differ, your practice must first listen and learn the rules of Facebook engagement.
Engage: Engagement allows you to build the desired brand perception and handle customer conversations and/or issues at once. Engagement is a two-way street. When you engage with people in an online community, they will engage with you, too. Direct communication via Facebook allows you to build real relationships with your current and potential dental patients.
TIP: Create a daily routine of engagement, which will help to build relationships in your communities. (More on this on the next page!)
Listen: At any given moment, someone is talking about your practice, industry, brand or service. Luckily for businesses nowadays, these discussions are easily monitored on one or more social media platforms. For Facebook success, you must make active listening an important priority—it will provide valuable insights into the minds of your patients. And it’s not just current and potential customers you should listen to either; follow your competition to discover how they’re approaching social media marketing. You may just pick up competitive intelligence!
TIP: Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) is a simple listening tool anyone can use. Simply enter a search query (practice name, industry or city, etc.) and select how often you’d like to receive your alerts.
Educate: People visit the Web to be entertained and/or to solve a problem. Present your practice as an expert in dentistry on Facebook by sharing timely industry statistics, dental tips, relevant news articles and more. Providing useful content that can help solve problems, such as “7 Ways to Relieve a Toothache,” will drive more potential customers to your Facebook page and website.
Entertain: If people aren’t browsing the web to learn, they’re looking to be entertained. While dentistry is a serious business, sprinkling humor into your Facebook activity can do wonders for your practice. However, if humor isn’t your strong suit, just be yourself and say what you have to say – that provides a real connection between you and your customers.
Phase 4: Create a Daily Routine of Engagement
Develop and consistently carry out a daily routine of engagement to help build your audience and retain interest from Facebook users who have already “Liked” your page. Begin by following these engagement best practices:
- Share Two Updates Daily – Share one company blog post, industry news story or statistic and one image. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the latest News Feed update will place a much greater emphasis on visuals, so the latter post is especially important for reaching current and potential customers. Despite what some marketers will tell you, there’s no set time that’s best for all Pages to post, so experiment with your posting times and analyze your data for increased engagement.
- Regularly Ask for Likes, Comments and Shares – Telling social media users to take action on your posts actually increases engagement. A call-to-a ction (CTA) pin description on Pinterest sees an 80 percent increase in engagem ent, for example. Encourage your followers to engage with phrases like, “Share this image if you remembered to floss today!”
Does updating your Page and engaging with customers sound like they’ll take more time than you have to give?
Facebook allows page managers to schedule updates in bulk within the platforms – just click the clock in the lower lefthand corner of the status publisher – which can be done after hours. However, many social media marketers argue against scheduling updates, especially if you’re of the “set it and forget it” mindset.
Doctors also have the option of outsourcing their social media efforts to professional marketers disciplined in social media management.
Take it one phase at a time, and you can successfully market your practice using Facebook and other social media tools!