When prospective new patients check out your practice online, what they find–especially on Facebook–has an enormous influence on whether or not they consider you. Take these first steps and be present where it really counts!
I’m a big Peter Drucker fan. Have you read any of his work? He was a brilliant business consultant and author who is considered one of the founders of modern business success. He once said: “A business has only one valid purpose: to create a customer. And if the purpose of a business is to create a customer, then that business only has two functions–innovation and marketing. Innovation and marketing produce results. All the rest are costs. Innovation produces the product and marketing tells the stories that sell the product.”
I like to modify Peter’s thinking specifically for dental practices. Here’s my version: “A dental practice has only one valid purpose: to create a patient. And if the purpose of a practice is to create a patient, then that practice only has two functions–innovation and marketing. Innovation produces great dentistry and marketing tells the stories that attract and retain great patients.”
Dental marketing has changed forever. In the old days (just a few short years ago), consumers actually believed advertising. They even believed your claims on your website! Can you imagine that? Not today. People don’t pay attention to traditional advertising anymore. They don’t trust the “perfect snapshot in time” on your website. They do their research. They glean social proof. They opt in to the marketing messages they want to receive. They seek out many reference points before deciding whether or not a business deserves their business. This includes reading reviews, following businesses on social media, subscribing to selected email lists, and asking for recommendations online from their friends, extended family members, neighbors and coworkers.
Regardless of how someone first hears about your practice– even if it’s through old-school traditional marketing–the game immediately becomes both digital and social. When someone recommends your practice over lunch (or receives your direct mail postcard in their metal mailbox… remember those?), the smartphone comes out of the purse or pocket and your practice is instantly being investigated.
An active, honest, transparent, engaging, trustworthy Facebook presence for your dental practice is no longer just a nice accessory in your marketing efforts–it’s essential. The good news is that the first step of building your practice’s online presence is easy, fast, and free. Set up your practice’s Facebook business page and start getting active on social media. Over 80 percent of adults online have a Facebook account, and most are spending significant amounts of time there every day–including 75 percent of family decision makers, who regularly use Facebook to get recommendations and to confirm their impressions about businesses.
Hands down, building an inviting Facebook page will help you boost your practice’s online visibility, retain existing patients, and attract new patients better than any other social media effort. Kick things off by following these four steps:
1. Post daily on your practice’s Facebook page.
Your Facebook page needs fresh engaging content on a consistent basis to appear welcoming, relevant, and able to give prospective new patients a sense of your practice culture. Daily posts don’t have to be elaborate. Posting a quick team member photo or team member spotlight, a dental-care-tip video, or even talking about a local upcoming event is a great way to create top-of-mind awareness for your practice.
2. Respond to Facebook messages, visitor posts, and reviews.
Responsiveness is key to building trust and relationships on social media. Properly set your notifications so you know immediately when a patient or fan says something on your Facebook page. When prospective new patients see that you take the time to follow up on everything your patients and fans say, it tells them how much you care about providing a great experience. Even leaving quick replies such as “We appreciate your feedback!” or “Thanks for coming in today!” shows that you’re listening.
3. Inside your practice, invite patients to Like your Facebook page.
Effective social media marketing doesn’t start online. It starts inside your practice. Growing your Facebook presence is supported by what you and your team do inside your office each day. Mention what your practice is doing on social media to every patient and encourage them to Like your page. Don’t assume that any of your patients won’t be interested; remember that over 80 percent of online adults are Facebook users.
4. Become familiar with and harness Facebook’s “pay-to-play” model.
Hands down, Facebook’s model for boosting great posts is dental marketing’s greatest value today. It’s not complicated, but discussing it here is beyond the scope of this article. To help you get started with this important Facebook strategy, we’ve written a helpful, free ebook that you can download from the Free Stuff section of my website (mysocialpractice.com) entitled, “The Dentist’s Guide to Paid Social.”
Yes, in this short article we’ve only talked about the very beginnings of carrying out an effective social media marketing strategy. It takes a little bit of time and some patience. Take it in baby steps. Designate a team member as your in-practice social media “champion,” and help him or her learn and grow into the role in just a few minutes a day.
Don’t overthink it, and keep it fun. Be human, be transparent, and be consistent. You’ll find that patients and prospective new patients are actually eager to connect with you on a more personal level than what’s possible on your website which leads to greater retention, more recommendations and referrals, increased trust, and better case acceptance. Get started today. If you do it for the right reasons, and in the right way, I promise that you’ll look back a year from now and be glad you did.
For more ideas about extending your online reputation and attracting more patients, visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/eservices/reputation-plus.
Get advice about other aspects of practice marketing by reading the Dentrix Magazine practice marketing articles at https://magazine.dentrix.com/category/practice-marketing/.
By Jack Hadley, Partner, My Social Practice
Jack Hadley teaches social media marketing to MBA students at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management in Provo, Utah. He is also a founding partner at My Social Practice, an agency providing social media marketing content, strategy, and support to dental, orthodontic, and dental specialty practices worldwide. Jack is an award-winning copywriter, epiphany catalyst, and former ad agency creative director with a rich background in all aspects of the creative process who is frequently asked to address dental groups about digital marketing. Contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more at www.MySocialPractice.com.
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2018