By Glenn Lombardi
Like it or not, the conversation about your practice is now happening online. Patients are not only searching the Internet for information concerning their oral health, they are actively responding, engaging, and expecting interaction from other users on the Web. Popular social media platforms, such as Facebook and blogs, allow for the conversational, instant-sharing of information between people with the same interest (e.g., dentist to dentist, dentist to patient, patient to patient). Dentists can use their social media sites to share real-time updates, provide useful health information, offer support, and facilitate meaningful conversation between patients.
Social media is viral, and when someone mentions your practice via a social media platform, there is much more potential for other people to notice and greater opportunity for conversations to spread to reach a vast audience. It’s truly a referral network!
Before diving in, consider the following tips for integrating a social media strategy with your practice’s marketing plan.
View social networking as an extension of your brand. Everything you say and do online is representative of your brand. Keep your messages relevant and consistent with the goals and values of your practice.
Contribute, and contribute often. Social media participation is based on user-generated activity and regular communication with audiences. Establishing a social media plan for producing and contributing content can help you stay consistent and diligent in your social networking efforts. Outdated, stagnant sites are ineffective and quickly disregarded by those in your network, as well as the search engines.
Have realistic expectations. While social networking certainly won’t deliver an instant return on investment, it can with time build awareness for your practice and help promote your services to existing and potential patients. Remember, social media is about sharing and engaging with patients, not aggressively selling to them.
Request the expertise of an outside source. Social media requires time and an active voice if you want to be effective. Dentists new to social media or those practices with tight schedules and limited resources may require outside assistance to effectively launch and manage a sound social media campaign.
Bottom-line: Social media is not a passing fad. As more and more patients flock to the Web as a source of health information, social media is proving to be an instrumental tool to help your practice reach untapped, potential patients and stay connected to current ones. Effectively using social media to build your dental practice can be time-consuming, but it is the wave of the future and a great way to engage your tech-savvy patients, referral sources, and prospects.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, the number one provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated over a quarter of a million appointment requests since 2002. To learn more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
By Glenn Lombardi