Should Dentists Use Social Media for Marketing?
That is the question that many dental professionals ask themselves when they are deciding how to promote their practice.
If you would like to actively market and strengthen your dental practice, then you should be aware of some of the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a dentist. Social media can be a great way to build your practice and get in front of current and potential patients, but it also has its drawbacks.
Many dentists are spending money on social platforms for the type of posts that make you cringe.
With many dental marketing companies offering a menu of dental services so the alpha dentists can pick and choose what services they want, you’ll often find some pretty generic offerings that become a core profit driver for many marketing companies.
In this article, we will discuss why it may be worth your practice staying active on social media and which platforms offer the most potential for dentists. We will also discuss how dentists can avoid common mistakes on these platforms so that your efforts and dollars are not wasted!
Understanding Social Media
First, let’s go over a quick background about what social media is. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
It is a way for people and businesses like yours to connect and engage with your target audience or local community on a personal level.
Really, it was designed for person-to-person communication, but many businesses now use it to communicate with their customers.
Now that we have a quick overview of what social media is, let’s go over why you may benefit from using some kind of social media strategy for your dental practice. We will be talking only about ‘organic’ social media, which doesn’t include advertising.
Advertising is a whole other beast (that can be quite effective), and we will cover it in another article. Let’s begin.
When it comes to dental marketing, one critical objective is increasing mind-share. Mind-share is the percentage of time that people are spending thinking about your dental practice. The more people see your practice and brand in one form or another, the more they will think about it.
The more that they think about it, the more likely they will be to regularly visit your practice and even refer you to their friends, family, or make online recommendations. How does that sound?
Now, if you could only choose one marketing tactic to increase mind-share and dental marketing results, would we recommend social media?
Patient Magnet has identified social media to be, generally, one of the lower-impact levers for dental marketing. The vast majority of social media that dentists do has little to no impact.
There are other ways to get in front of your current and potential patients online. These include creating website content or relevant blog posts, email campaigns, digital advertising, direct mail, and more. Many of these are regarded by Patient Magnet as having a much greater impact.
That being said, there is no harm in organically marketing your practice on social media. Many dentists want an organically build a social media presence. So what are the potential benefits?
Re-enforcing Your Brand
First, you can build re-enforce your brand. By posting your staff, values, and messaging in a way that correlates strongly with your brand values, if and when people do see your social media posts, these will be able to resonate with the right people.
Showcasing Your Work
Next, you can showcase your work. If you are helping restore smiles, then why not showcase that work on social media?
Social media is a great way to show off your work and give people the opportunity to follow you in hopes of seeing more. However, most people don’t like seeing gruesome before and after photos while they casually sip their latte as they scroll social media, so take it easy on the gore.
Another reason (and my favorite reason) social media can be beneficial to a dental office is to show appreciation for your staff. I was talking with an amazing doctor and owner of a growing group practice the other day. He underscored the importance of showing gratitude, appreciation, and recognition to your staff.
This may not seem like a big deal, but posts like this not only demonstrate your appreciation of your team members, they also are a BIG hit for anyone that sees your social content. People love to celebrate and show appreciation for others on social media!
99% may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Most dental social media marketing turns out a big bust that rarely results in any real improvement to the bottom line. Why does this happen?
As we mentioned above, there are myriad ‘social media experts’ and ‘digital marketing packages’ that offer social posting as a service.
But these social posts are typically canned, white-labeled content that is treatment-oriented. They usually link to a generic page so that patients can learn more about bruxism, or some other random topic at the time someone comes by it.
This ‘informational’ content will attract little to no engagement (except for the office manager, maybe), and just seems like spam. These violate the main tenet of social media.
If it doesn’t fit the platform, it won’t perform well. To be successful on social media, you should post content that fits the platform.
For example, Facebook is about friends and family, and Instagram is about self-expression. If you take to these platforms with generic content about dental implants, it will just look like more spam.
To wrap up, Patient Magnet believes that you should be on social media platforms in at least a limited way. It is worth posting something up here and there to remain active and fully filling out your page so that potential visitors can get the information they need.
But the daily, canned, white-labeled posts? Cancel your subscription… you’re wasting your money.
The Cons of Using Social Media Marketing as a Dentist
As mentioned, you should only use social channels to a limited degree, do not focus on them. Here are the reasons why.
You do not own the page or channel. Your page can be shut down anytime.
If you as a dentist depended largely on a Facebook page and Facebook decides to shut down your page at their whim, there is nothing you can do, with little hope of recovering it. Especially for medical and dental practices, it is quite easy to violate their community guidelines, which is the main cause for page deletion.
Facebook, for example, will also show your competing dental practices as related pages, and as a result, you can lose new patients looking for a dentist.
Not all are users of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter every day, but nearly everyone searches on Google. There are over 2 Billion users per month, while there are billions of Google users per DAY.
Compared to users on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, patients searching online whether Google, Bing, etc have higher intent to avail of your services by as much as 46%.
In contrast, those on Facebook, Twitter, etc, are there to laugh have fun, connect with their friends, and just happen to see your social posting.
A Few Tips on Social Media Marketing for Dentists
Tip #1: Don’t outsource it.
Don’t outsource your social media. Any bit of unique brand or personality will be lost in the generic and canned content. Besides, if ever there will be engagement with your posting, it is likely that patients, whether current or potential, will most likely ask a technical question, one that only you can answer.
Use a content calendar to manage all of your posts so that you can post across various platforms at pre-scheduled times. This will make things more efficient. There are various social media content calendar software options, including Hootsuite.
Tip #3: Manage your expectations.
Social media has a way of draining your energy and time. It can be hard to measure the ROI, especially in dental practices, so keep it simple and try not to spend too much time on it. If you expect social media to make a major impact, Patient Magnet feels otherwise.
Some Frequently Asked Questions on Social Media for Dentists
Dentists use Facebook and Instagram generally to be able to share photos from happy patients. From there. you and be able to gauge what is relevant through engaging content. You can also use these channels to share reviews.
Dental social media mainly involves having a content calendar so that you can plan your topics in an organized, one-month spread.
Dentists need social media because combined, there are billions of users. These channels provide means for real-time interaction with current patients. It will also help to attract new patients and build relationships with their relevant audience.
How can I promote my dental practice?
Aside from the more popular social media marketing channels mentioned (Facebook and Instagram), other channels are LinkedIn for a more professional channel, and Youtube to post your own videos.
For a more long-term presence, however, you can build your authority as a dentist by having your own business website which can showcase your services. You can post engaging content, add photos and videos. The more you post content on your website, the more chances of being found on search.
The only drawback is that getting organic traffic to your website takes time.
Also as important is to use Google My Business and professional business directories as part of local SEO. This will connect with your patients within your audience/community. Gather reviews online.
If you want more active management of your marketing through a channel that knows your industry, Patient Magnet can do it for you. It complements having a website to establish a strong presence and will bring faster results compared to just SEO alone.
It goes without saying that social media for dentists isn’t a silver bullet. It isn’t really in the game when it comes to results-driven marketing (unless you’re running paid ads… and this doesn’t include ‘Boosting’ your post). We hope these ideas and tips will give you a clearer picture of how you can get started in creating an overall strategy
If you have questions about social media or other dental marketing success strategies, please send us an email and we will be happy to help.
Patient Magnet is a team that understands your industry. We have the resources that can help you grow your dental practice. Our team accomplishes this through data-driven, direct response marketing that doesn’t take months to start working (and without the social media overload). That way, you can focus on what matters most to you – your professional practice first above all.