Social media is certainly gaining a foothold in dentistry. You only need to look at a handful of dental practice websites and they are already linking to their Facebook pages, Twitter streams and Google plus profiles.
The reason for this is simple: interacting on social media allows you to demonstrate your human side. It allows you to build trust and lower risk for potential patients, making it the ideal opportunity to engage and attract the right type of new patients into your practice.
With so many practices embracing this modern world of new patient attraction, it would be a good idea to consider a few critical dos and don'ts before getting involved in social media.
Critical DOs of dental social media
Be a person.
Remember, at the local business level we buy from people we like, and we like people similar to us. The most effective social media marketing allows people to find out who you are, realise they have a connection with you and begin to like you.
Posting about the human side of your practice – birthdays, weddings and celebrations – is an excellent way to demonstrate that your practice is personable and approachable.
I would also recommending having people as images on your Facebook cover and profile rather than just the logo. Simply using your business brand is, in my opinion, not personable enough. It's far easier for a potential patient to grow to like you if they can see you, rather than just your logo.
Your patients do not come to you wanting dental implants, dental veneers or teeth whitening.
What they so want is a solution to a problem.
They want to replace missing teeth, rebuild broken down teeth or they want to feel more confident with whiter teeth.
If you genuinely help them to solve problems rather than trying to sell them treatments you will find your social media marketing is far more effective. Use social media updates to solve people's problems and create a place they want to go to for information in between their routine dental health appointments.
Dentistry is a high trust industry: your patients are going to lie on their back, feel vulnerable, you are more than likely going to make them feel a small amount of pain, and on top of that you're going to cover half of your face with a mask!
None of that is conducive to trusting someone…
With everything you post on social media, ask yourself “How does this build trust?”. If your latest status update damages trust, don't post it!
When a patient comes to visit you, it is inherently risky for them. You are not physically able to restore them to the same condition that they walked through your door in. For example, if you provide a white filling and they don't like it, you can't remove it, put the tooth back and send them out with the decay exactly as it was before.
This makes dentistry inherently risky for any new patient.
With everything you post on social media, ask yourself “How does this help to reduce risk?”. If your latest status update increases the perception of risk, don't post it!
Critical DON’Ts of dental social media
Don’t try to sell.
This is pretty much the opposite of what we have discussed about increasing trust. If a potential patient perceives that you're going to try and sell them something they don't want, this will damage trust enormously.
Keep self-promotional updates to no more than 20%.
Ideally 40% of updates should be talking about yourself, allowing people to engage with you. 40% should be giving people something to do like clicking on links to find out more about how they can solve their dental problems, and the remaining 20% can focus on yourself and how you can solve their dental concerns.
Don’t post anything that you might want to remove at a later date.
You should consider everything you post online to be permanent and can never be removed. Even if you delete an update you have no way of knowing if someone has saved it to their computer or shared it with their friends.
This includes photographs of patients – any patient giving consent to post dental photographs online needs to know that this photograph will be there in perpetuity.
Don’t use a personal account on Facebook.
You should never use a personal account on Facebook for dental marketing, always use a business page. Using a personal account to promote a business can result in your account being deleted, which could be a disaster if you have many friends.
A business page allows you to run adverts, have multiple administrators, view analytics about who is seeing that page and run various competitions/applications/events.
You can set up a business page on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/pages
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