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A Picture is Worth 1,000 Patients

A picture says a thousand words, and can get you a thousand patients.  Social Media is built around sharing information.  Sharing pictures is obviously a big part of this, but many dentists don't capitalize on the marketing power of the picture.  To diagnose the problem let's first ask the question "What does your web presence say about you?"

Twitter is a social media powerhouse.  Millions of users tweet each day, and savvy dentists are starting to use the platform to get their message across.  Twitter's simplicity definitely has its fans, but it also makes it a bit tougher to create a complex user profile.  User profiles are restricted to a brief blurb and a link.  Not much to go on.  While Twitter doesn't allow you to create a large text profile, it does allow you to change the background image for your page.  They do offer several default designs, and users can upload a smaller image that will tile across the background.  What does that really say about your cause?  A default image may make you look like someone who is not very involved or active.  It may even make you look like a spammer.  Both big no no's in the Twitterverse.  A tiled image will make you look more active, but will a composite image of your dog or your family really get someone interested in your practice?  Probably not.

Take the time to create a custom background image.  A smiling casual picture of you is always recommended.  People are much more likely to connect with an image of another human, not a picture of your parking lot.  A custom image will allow you to create a brief description, and list all of your important links. The background image will also make the page seem more professional.   The one drawback with Twitter custom backgrounds links you might include are not live.  They are only graphic representations.  You can find several different layout structures on the web, and there are several different variations.  Try one on different types of computers and monitors to make sure it looks correct.  The use of space will make your Twitter page more memorable, and give a bit of importance to what you have to say. It will also give the potential patient all the tools they need find you.

Pictures also let you express yourself and share experiences with others.  Facebook has become one of the most visited websites in the world by allowing users to share their experiences and pictures.  Sharing photos on Facebook can be a nice pastime and sharing tool, but photos can be an integral part of a Facebook marketing program.  First of all, the profile picture for Facebook fan pages needs to be optimized.  Fan page pictures can actually be as big as 200x600 pixels.  This is huge!  A picture this big will take up a lot of real estate on the page, and it screams to be customized.  I like to consider this the "mini" Twitter background.  Once again use a smiling picture, and add important text and links.  The profile picture will be visible throughout your fan page, and will be your ambassador outside the page.  It has the benefit of showing your face and giving valuable info at the same time.

Sharing pictures on Facebook is also a great way to share your info.  It is important to tag every picture.  Tag it even if your name is the only tag.  Tag others if you can.  Users will be notified that they have been tagged in a picture, and will most likely check out the picture. Their friends will also be notified that they have been tagged in a picture, and will probably check it out too.  Therein lies the viral potential of a picture on Facebook.  They peak user's curiosities, and they seam much less threatening than a text request.  Always add appropriate text and links to shared pictures.  Grease the wheels by adding the first comment.  Users are much more likely to comment once someone has broken the ice.  Once a picture has been tagged, described, linked, and shared the true viral potential of the picture has been released.  Sit back and let your picture do the work.

Social media has many techniques that can make ordinary content go viral.  Pictures seem like they speak for themselves, but little changes can supercharge your social media efforts.  Embrace the little things, and take your practice marketing to the next level.

Jason T. Lipscomb is a general dentist in Richmond, VA and a co-author of Social Media for Dentists.  Dr. Lipscomb has developed the methods used by Social Media for Dentists after several years of private practice.  He maintains a unique perspective on dental marketing by operating two busy practices and researching social media practices.  Social Media for Dentists is one of the only dental specific Social Media marketing books.  Social Media for Dentists L.L.C. offers hands on training to dentists all over the country.