by DentalPlanet on 14/12/09 at 3:09 pm
Dentistry is one profession that has typically been the most forward thinking. Dentists are always looking for the next best thing, or the newest technology. This is why I am often surprised when dentists say they don’t want to be involved with social media or they don’t have the time to work with it. Many dentists don’t realize that social media is a powerful marketing tool that when used correctly can be very rewarding. In my upcoming book, Social Media for Dentists, dentists will gain the tools to start building a great Social Media plan. In this book I will cover how to use platforms like Facebook to establish a marketing persona, but why should dentists use Facebook?
1. It’s free. I have done a lot of marketing for my practice and the word “Free” rarely surfaces. Dentists pay thousands and thousands of dollars each year to market their practice. Some methods are very successful, some are not, but I am willing to guess that they all cost money.
2. Everybody is doing it. I always used this excuse to give some reason for my teenage indiscretions, but it never worked. This time it does. Well, not everybody, but a good portion of the population. Over 50% of the U.S. population has a Facebook account. One of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook are users over 35. Facebook is not just for teenagers anymore. A recent study by the Nielson company showed that online usage of senior citizens jumped over 50%. The study also showed that Facebook is visited by almost 8 million seniors. The mindset that older people don’t visit sites like Facebook just doesn’t work anymore. How can dentists overlook a way to market to 50% of the population?
3. They expect you to be there. In a 2008 study by Cone, 93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media. The world is becoming more and more tech savvy. The website has become ubiquitous. Watch what the major companies are doing. While I was watching T.V. this weekend I began to notice that many companies don’t even display their websites, they display their Facebook or Twitter addresses. Websites have become such an ingrained part of our society that companies don’t even display them, you just know that Reebok is going to have a website. It is probably going to be www.reebok.com. They now have to establish their market on Facebook, as should dentists.
4. Facebook is not a billboard broadcasting your personal information. The main concern about a Social Media profile is privacy. Dentists fear that their information can be stolen or used in the wrong context. One way to solve this is simple discretion. Don’t post anything you don’t want others to see. Use common sense. Facebook has several privacy settings to keep personal info from getting into the wrong hands. They have just updated their privacy settings to make them customizable. Privacy settings can now be applied to every post, making it much easier to manage who sees content. Odds are Google maps has a picture of your house already, so don’t lose any sleep over Facebook.
5. S.E.O. Search Engine Optimization. Everybody who has a website wants it. Some locales are in a heated battle to see who’s website will come out on top. Until someone figures out Google’s ever changing algorithm, no one will have a lock on the top spot. Now social media is getting into the mix. Social Media used to be in its own little world and search engines treated it that way. They were almost ignored in search engine results. Now search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have realized how popular Social Media is, and they want to be part of it. Search engines began to index Twitter posts to include them in their search results. Now they have begun to do this with Facebook, hence some of the privacy changes. Content on Facebook can now wind up in search engines, and can now be part of the ever-desired S.E.O. plan. Facebook has also opened it’s platform and allowed vanity URLs, which further increases content visibility.
6. Honey, we aren’t spontaneous anymore! Well with Facebook you can be. Facebook marketing allows you to make changes, add content, and import real time material. Many dentists who have a website probably don’t have a clue how to change it or add content. Facebook puts the power to change in the users hands. It is very easy to post testimonial videos, or to link to the YouTube profile where they are located.
7. Website schmebsite. The new open platform of Facebook allows for HTML-like customization of a fan page. Many companies are turning their Facebook fan page in to a fully functional website. You don’t have to settle for the same old feed type of display. The benefit is a user never has to leave Facebook.
8. Viral load. During dental school they always told us that word of mouth advertising is the best. Facebook is word of mouth advertising! Never before has a platform had so many “word of mouth” or “viral” attributes built right in. The average Facebook user has about 130 friends. One post on Facebook can be shared with their 130 friends, then those friends share with those friends, and so on. One bit of information can reach thousands on people in a very short period of time. The great thing is, this ability to share is built into everything on Facebook. It is strongly encouraged. This is what Facebook is built on. What good would Facebook be if millions of people didn’t say anything to each other?
9. It’s personal. Facebook allows a dentist to become a person and not just a logo in a phonebook. What keeps your patients coming back? Do they love the drill? They have probably made a personal connection with you or your staff, and they trust you. That is why word of mouth marketing is best, because a potential patient will ask someone they trust who they trust. You can start to build that rapport indirectly on Facebook.
10. Up in the club. Being part of something on Facebook gives a community feel. It also gives an air of exclusivity. People often take pride in their dentist, and tell people about “my dentist”. When someone is your fan on Facebook, they can feel like they have an audience with you that not many others will have. They will feel their comments carry more weight.
Facebook is a great outlet for a dentist to bring out the best in their practice. It gives real insight to the person, the passion for the profession, and the great amount of knowledge within. Don’t be afraid of Social Media, embrace it. Make it something you can enjoy.
Dr. Jason T. Lipscomb D.D.S. is a general dentist in Virginia, and founder of Social Media for Dentists Social Media for Dentists is committed to teaching dentists the right way to market a practice using Social Media.