MANY SMALL BUSINESSES such as dental practices set up an account on LinkedIn, the professional-oriented social platform, and often that’s as far as it goes. They either forget about it entirely or fail to make full use of the site as a marketing medium. However, LinkedIn can benefit dental offices in two key areas: by helping them to establish a strong reputation within the profession and by enabling them to engage directly with prospective patients.
Why should you be paying attention to LinkedIn now? According to business and technology observers, there has never been a better time to harness the advertising power of LinkedIn following its 2016 acquisition by tech supremo Microsoft. With the acquisition, LinkedIn is becoming a more important player in social media and business growth, much in the way that Facebook has changed the playing field for dental practices in the past five years.
It would be a mistake to regard LinkedIn as a place where you should have a presence just for the sake of appearance. Set up in 2003, LinkedIn is now the largest network on the planet where professionals interact, providing an effective resource for dentists to gain and share advice and insights within the business. This level of online networking with fellow professionals can help a dental practice to grow its reputation on an ongoing basis, and is likely to attract more referrals from other dentists.
The benefits of LinkedIn advertising for a dental office
Direct advertising on LinkedIn provides dental offices with a further means to generate more business by connecting with the people most likely to be looking for the dental services they offer. Besides providing networking opportunities for businesses, LinkedIn has become a major player in the job marketplace, with employers posting vacancies and job hunters uploading reumes and CVs. For a dental office, these job seekers represent a pool of potential repeat patients.
LinkedIn advertising offers two platforms, traditional adverts and sponsored updates, with a format similar to Facebook Ads. Conventional advertising is displayed on users' LinkedIn profiles or home pages. It allows you to place text and images, including video, linking to your company page and your dental website. With sponsored adverts, you create a LinkedIn post and then pay to spread the message further afield.
LinkedIn ads enable you to concentrate on your target audience—prospective patients—based on their interests as shown on their LinkedIn profiles. You can refine your promotional campaign by focusing on aspects such as age, gender, and location. The cost of your LinkedIn advertising is determined by an auction in which advertisers place bids to reach their target audience. You can regulate your advertising expenditure by establishing a daily budget, total budget, and maximum bids. You can stop your ads and reactivate them at any time.
The way LinkedIn is underused as a promotional tool was demonstrated in 2016, when it was revealed that out of 500 million members from more than 200 countries, only 106 million LinkedIn accounts were active.
In 2017, experienced technology writer and programmer Daniel Nations declared on the tech information platform LifeWire that many people turned their backs on their LinkedIn account shortly after setting it up. They didn’t understand how to use the social networking service, said Nations, and neither did they appreciate the benefits it offered them. (1) For a dental practice, this means your competitors are probably overlooking the marketing opportunities offered by LinkedIn, and you can take advantage of their oversight by tapping into the large audience that the social media channel presents.
The Microsoft connection gives LinkedIn users the potential to reach an even wider audience
Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016 for $26 billion. At the time, LinkedIn had 467 million users. LinkedIn announced in April 2017 that its number of users had hit the 500-million mark, an increase of 33 million on the October 2016 figure. (2)
The Microsoft acquisition gives the tech giant access to a host of data it can use to consolidate its business software products. It also brings bonus benefits to LinkedIn users. Following the deal, Forbes magazine contributor George Anders predicted that LinkedIn accounts were set to become “much more powerful,” with LinkedIn profile details featuring across a raft of Microsoft products such as Skype and Outlook. (3)
Top-selling author and technology expert Bernard Marr suggests LinkedIn users should take certain steps to gain full advantage of the Microsoft connection. At the top of his list, Marr emphasized the importance of maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile, which, he asserted, would become even more significant as Microsoft brought in LinkedIn integration with its Office suite of products. (4)
Dentists can use their personal LinkedIn profile to reach out to potential patients. For instance, the profile could contain an explanation of why you decided to go into dentistry, and how your background has shaped your practice’s company philosophy and culture.
The message you send out in your profile will not just appear in front of Microsoft-product users. With relevant keywords and content, your message will also feature prominently in the search engine results pages (SERPs) of Google and other major search engines. Furthermore, you can also include endorsements indicating your expertise or specialty on your LinkedIn profile, and highlight your practice’s strong points by publishing photos of patients before and after treatment.
Getting the message across to prospective patients
While LinkedIn is a potent resource for business-to-business (B2B) companies, it can also be an effective resource tool for small business-to-consumer (B2C) operations such as dental offices. LinkedIn can help you to keep up to speed with latest developments in the profession as you interact with fellow dentists. LinkedIn groups also provide the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise by answering questions on dental issues, and this again can drive visitors to your website. Attracting endorsements from other dentists will help you to get more referrals from other dentists while enhancing your reputation among prospective new patients.
You can further promote your dental office through LinkedIn’s company pages, which enable you to raise the profile of your practice as a brand and showcase your services and specialties by posting updates about your business across the tablets, mobiles, and desktops of people in your area looking for dental treatment. A further benefit of LinkedIn company pages is that they enhance search engine optimization (SEO) to steer more potential patients towards your website.
If you’re prepared to invest resources and time to establish yourself on LinkedIn, it will provide a more persuasive and cost-effective means of promoting your dental practice than conventional advertising channels.
If you take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to dental practices by LinkedIn, you will be able to strengthen your reputation in the profession as a whole and among existing and prospective patients, which is likely to drive more business your way. Remember, though, that LinkedIn is chiefly a B2B site, so you need to have realistic aims and be prepared to wait a while before you begin to reap the benefits of your efforts.
1. Nations D. What is LinkedIn and why should you be on it? LifeWire website. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-linkedin-3486382. Updated August 1, 2017. Accessed August 1, 2017.
2. Darrow B. LinkedIn claims half a billion users. Fortune website. http://fortune.com/2017/04/24/linkedin-users/. Published April 24, 2017. Accessed August 1, 2017.
3. Anders G. With Microsoft buying LinkedIn, here's what users can expect. Forbes website. https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2016/06/13/with-microsoft-buying-linkedin-heres-what-users-can-expect/#cd49901101fa. Published June 13, 2016. Accessed August 1, 2017.
4. Marr B. What to do with your LinkedIn profile now Microsoft owns the social network. LinkedIn website. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-do-your-linkedin-profile-now-microsoft-owns-social-bernard-marr/. Published June 26, 2016. Accessed August 1, 2017.
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions. Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.