I am a dentist. Why should I bother with social media?

June 26, 2011
Joy Gendusa, founder of PostcardMania, says there are two compelling reasons why you should be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites, and she offers four steps to help you launch a strategic plan to successfully engage with patients on the Internet.

By Joy Gendusa

Should you be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites? Yes! Here are two compelling reasons why:

  1. Your patients are
  2. Your prospects are

In order to grow in any business, you need to stay in front of your customers and prospects — and dentistry is no exception!

So, as a dentist, should you bother with social media? Absolutely!

According to TGDaily.com, 48% of Americans over the age of 11 use social media. And that number jumps to 71% for ages 18 to 34. A social media campaign builds relationships with current patients and is the most effective way to draw young, lifelong patients by creating a buzz about your practice!

There aren't too many case studies out there for a local practice building a patient base with social media (I couldn't find any and I looked!), and it does take dedication. But SSM (social media marketing) is a great supplement to your other marketing activities and can definitely help to increase the overall lifetime value of a patient.

You will need a strategic plan or your efforts may be in vain.

Follow these four steps to successfully engage with patients and prospects on social media and turn your dental practice into a social media superstar!

1. Know your purpose. Your goal is to get more new patients or current patients to use more of your services. Don't ever lose sight of the "why" — whatever it may be. Connect with current patients and have them post on Facebook about their experiences with your practice, and new referrals will follow. Also, make sure you are engaged in conversations. Social media is about relationships so it's important that you comment on your patients' posts, keeping you on their minds and, of course, making them like you more! We all get a warm fuzzy feeling about the person who acknowledges our posts, right?

2. Focus your goals.
 Now you know what you want to do: engage current customers and attract new ones. But how do you do that?

Set a goal to communicate with 10 current patients per week and post one informational article each week. If those numbers aren't feasible for your practice, come up with your goals. Just be sure you have a plan and stick to it! The way you interact with clients will be different depending on the type of social media you are using.

3. Pick a point person. 
Put someone in charge of executing your social media plan (updating your status and posting articles). It can be you, your office manager, or your receptionist. Whoever it is, it has to be one of their daily duties, or it will get overlooked.

Staying up-to-date with contacts is a must! If someone leaves you a voicemail, you don't wait seven days to call that person back. It's the same concept with social media; log on often and respond. Make social media marketing a priority and it will pay off.

4. Promote. Promote. Promote. You have profiles on multiple social media sites and are engaging patients and prospects. Now it's time to drive more traffic to these sites!

Use direct mail and email to get the word out and build your list of friends and followers. If you have a newsletter, always mention your social media profiles and include links in your email signature. Place the social media icons on your website so visitors can easily find them and link directly to them. Create Facebook-only promotions, such as "$50 off any dental service for Facebook friends during January." Use anything that helps to add visibility.

Remember, SMM builds relationships with patients and prospects, establishes credibility for your practice, and is the most convenient way to market your practice affordably.

Author bio
Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with a phone, computer, and no capital investment. Since then, she has grown the company into one of the nation’s most effective direct mail marketing firms, specializing in postcard marketing for small to large businesses. Over the years, she expanded to offer mailing list acquisition, website development, email marketing — all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice. She has been named Tampa Bay CEO of the Year, Business Woman of the Year in Tampa Bay, and has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business.” PostcardMania is an Inc. 500 and 5000 company and has won awards for creativity, best business practices, and leadership. Visit www.postcardmania.com for more information about direct mail and other marketing services.