Imagine there’s a street party happening just outside your practice.
Do you sit inside and try to work through the noise or go out and meet your neighbours? Well that party IS happening – online – and here’s why you should definitely be out there.
You hear the term ‘social media’ thrown around everywhere these days, and you’re probably even involved in it on a personal level, perhaps on Facebook or Twitter. But how does it fit into your practice business plan?
Social media is lots of fun, but it’s also a serious business development tool that you underestimate at your peril. It’s a fantastic way to meet the people in your community and connect with current and new patients. Not only does it enable you to tell everyone about your services, offers and news, but it will also help them see you as the friendly professionals you are – especially important in calming nervous patients.
However, it’s not as easy as just setting up a Facebook or Twitter account and expecting everyone to somehow ‘friend’ you out of the blue. There are some important things to keep in mind when using social media to market your dental practice.
To begin with, you have to cultivate a following. There’s no point shouting if no one’s listening – and your grandmother doesn’t count. On both Facebook and Twitter the best way to generate an active audience is first to be one. Follow the people or organisations in your community that are active and that have large local followings, then follow their followers. Comment on their posts and retweet their tweets, especially if they’re health-related. If someone comments on your account, be sure to respond so they know you appreciate their time. People like to be listened to and engaged with and will usually follow you back. Be sure to keep your connections friendly and professional, never overly personal or political, as you may inadvertently alienate potential patients.
So following others is a great start, but it’s definitely not enough. You have to offer something of value in order to encourage people to stay with you and to attract an even stronger following. This comes in the form of posts – be they dental news items, special offers or even just reminders to floss! Your posts should strike a winning balance between selling your services, educating and even entertaining your audience. If you manage to get it right, pretty soon you’ll be one of those keystone social media accounts that locals follow to stay connected with the community.
And the benefits to your practice should be obvious – in addition to growing your patient base, existing patients are encouraged to come in for regular check-ups, hygienist visits and even cosmetic treatments they may not otherwise have considered.
So it’s worth the investment – either in time, by doing it all yourself, or in hiring a specialist marketing agency to manage all of the above on your behalf.
(This article originally appeared in The Probe, July 2016 edition)