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How to kick-start the social media strategy of your dental practice

April 23, 2018
Starting a social media plan for your dental practice can seem daunting. Here are some ideas to help. But it's important to have a presence where your patients are.

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

Nowadays, word of mouth and offline marketing channels such as local TV stations, radio, and print ads can hardly bring your dental practice enough traction to drive the clientele you need to be successful.

With the current technology boom and increased impact of social media, people are more inclined to look for dentist recommendations online. Embrace this development and adapt your marketing strategies to be competitive in today's changing market. Get ahead of the dental practices that still do business the old-fashioned way and watch your market share grow.

These social media guidelines will give you valuable ideas on how to incorporate it in your marketing plan and boost your brand awareness.

1. Give your audience what they need by having a two-way conversation

Instead of broadcasting and sharing only self-promotional information, try to get the attention of your followers, engage them, and show them you care about what they have to say. Actively listen to what your customers are saying, and take part in online conversations that will give you better insights to your audience.

• What are their major oral health concerns?
• What entertains and inspires them?
• How can you solve their problems?

By identifying the challenges people face and their unique preferences, you can produce content that gives your patients what they want and a reason for them to stay on your social media pages. This is a fundamental step in building long-term relationships.

2. Be consistent

Don’t try to have an account on every social media network, but instead focus on one or two platforms. Ask your existing patients where they prefer to hang out. This will help you be consistent and make the most out of the time you spend on social media.

Scheduling tools can be a huge help because these allow you to manage all your social handles in one place. You can use tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to publish posts automatically, monitor and answer users’ comments, and analyze user engagement.

3. Post engaging content

Follow the 80/20 rule—80% of your posts should be useful and entertaining, while the other 20% can promote your dental services. Attract your audience’s attention by sharing oral health tips or dental jokes. Tell the success stories of your patients with before-and-after images. Give them a glimpse of what it’s like to be your patient, and make them feel comfortable about having you as their dentist.

4. Go viral with videos

Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are pushing videos up on their newsfeeds now more than ever. Create short videos of up to 90 seconds that are useful and entertaining. You can then share them across all your social platforms. Try some of these ideas:
• Greet your patients and team members for their birthdays.
• Share patient testimonials.
• Live-stream during local events or dental conferences you attend.
• Run live Q&A sessions.
• Announce the winners of your social media contests.
·• Record and share 360 video tours to show off your office.

5. Leverage social media location features

As a business with a physical address, the check-ins and location targeting are another viral marketing tool that can help you spread the word about your practice. Here’s how you can make the most out of these features:

• Ask your current patients to check-in on Facebook during their visits. The activity will be reflected as a post on their timelines and will help you reach their friends and attract new potential patients. Moreover, you can get a bonus review because when someone checks in to your location, Facebook invites that person to follow up the activity with a review.
• Encourage patients to tag your Instagram business account or add a location sticker on their Instagram Stories. This can tempt their Instagram followers into clicking their posts and finding out more about your dentistry.

6. Develop and nurture brand advocates

Your happy patients, team members, and local partners can bring more value than any paid advertising. Encourage them to talk about your practice in order to boost your online visibility and social proof.

• Include your staff in social media promotions and encourage them to share your content by not restricting their access to social media while in the office.

• Tag the social media pages of local organizations and partners in your posts.

• Proactively manage your reputation by instructing your front desk team to ask happy clients to leave a review on your social media pages as they are leaving.

• Respond to both positive and negative reviews and try to turn complaining reviewers into fans. Simply offering an apology isn’t enough. Let unsatisfied patients know that you will solve their issues in a timely manner or you will refund them.

• Show patient appreciation by organizing a Patient of the Month program or hosting patient appreciation parties. Share these initiatives on social media by creating Facebook events or sharing images from the events.

For those of you who are new to social media marketing, it may seem a bit daunting when you kick it all off. But once you get a feel of what works best for your dental practice, you’ll start building a loyal online community, and you’ll even start attracting new patients.

Some of these tips may seem quite simple, but ask yourself, are you actually testing and implementing them in your social media plan? Experiment with different methods, and don’t miss the opportunity to get ahead of your competition by developing more interactive communication with your patients.

Manuela Gadancheva is a digital marketing expert at OptiLocal, an online marketing agency specializing in local SEO. She works on all things social media, content marketing, and digital advertising. Manuela is a knowledge-seeker and tries to stay up to date on the latest trends in SEO, social media marketing, and online advertising. For more information, email her at [email protected] or visit