Using social media to reach customers: One rep's tale

Sept. 3, 2011
By Kevin Henry
Editor, Proofs
Editor’s Note: I recently heard about some of the great things Christy Conway, a Field Sales Consultant for Henry Schein based in the San Diego area, was doing with social media. I “friended” her on Facebook and watched some of her YouTube videos, and I was very impressed with the different ways she was reaching the dental team in this age of technology.Following is my interview with her on the successes she has found using social media in the dental industry.How did you first get started using social media to reach dental teams?It started two years ago when I was out on maternity leave. I knew I needed to work a little smarter when I came back, so I started a professional Facebook page. It really took off. I discovered that I could communicate with my customers any time and didn’t have to wait until the full call cycle had elapsed. I could get a message out immediately to my customers and they could respond immediately as well.So how receptive are you finding dentists and team members to using social media?They are very receptive, but it has definitely taken some education. Henry Schein specializes in career development for the reps and that allows us to focus on practice management with our accounts. I want my dentists to all be ahead of the curve, especially when it comes to social media. This is a free marketing tool that everyone should be using. I invited Dr. Jason Lipscomb (a dentist who is well-known as an expert in social media for dental practices) to come to San Diego in October, 2010, and some of the things that he talked about in his presentation really got everyone’s attention. Following that meeting, I had about 30 dental practices that created their own professional Facebook pages. I’m finding that patients are checking in on these pages and watching the YouTube videos created by the practices. Some have been successful with Facebook ads. The marketing is working.I think dentists and team members are still in the beginning stages of learning about social media. People need to remember that immediate success doesn’t come right away. It takes time.Is it the dentist or the team member who is more active on the practice’s social media sites?I think it’s the team, but you have to sell the dentist on the concept of the team using its time on social media. Some doctors are getting involved, but I think it has to be a team effort in any practice. Social media is something that needs to be discussed regularly at team meetings. Ideas have to be shared among team members. I think there’s one person in every office who could be pointed out as the “social media superstar” and really lead the team’s efforts.How is Henry Schein working with its reps to be more “social media savvy?”We had breakout sessions for all of the sales reps at our recent national sales meeting. I was lucky enough to lead those sessions and talked to all of our reps about the importance of social media. We talked about Facebook as a way to reach customers and then helping those customers use their Facebook pages to better market their practices.I think we’ll see more of a push for social media through reps around the country. Social media is a huge marketing tool that is simply not being discussed enough. For reps, it’s a fantastic way to create immediate relationships with the dentist and team members as well as improve their current relationships. For the dentist, it’s a great marketing tool because so many people are now on Facebook.
You keep mentioning Facebook. What about the other social media sites?
I think Facebook and YouTube are the “big two” when it comes to social media. That’s where dentists will see their rewards. Twitter takes a little more effort and LinkedIn is more of a professional networking tool. Dentists might be able to reach patients through those sites, but I don’t think it will be as easy.Editor’s Note: Conway is in her ninth year with Henry Schein Dental. She also just gave birth to her second child, making her the mother of two children under the age of 2. She holds an MBA in marketing from Hawaii Pacific University.