Avoid social media pitfalls

Many people say that dentists are slow adapters.   I like to think they are cautious optimistic explorers.  Sure social media is the new hot topic for dentists, but many are entering the arena very slowly.  Others are jumping in full blast and utilizing every social media outlet possible.  No one likes dentists using social media more than me, but there is a group of dentists using social media that is rarely mentioned.  The social media burnouts.   Hundreds of dentists are jumping into social media, then months later dropping all efforts.  While social media has many possibilities, it can often leave a lot of casualties along the way.  Learning from the mistakes of others can allow you to have a great experience online.

Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media platforms.  They actually beat growth estimates in a recent study.  What they don't tell you is a large percentage of these users become non-active within a couple of months.  What happens to these users?  Many fail to see what the "big deal" is.  While others make bad choices that affects their experience.

Twitter can be a very powerful marketing tool for dentists.  In fact, my office was featured on the local news today.  How did the news anchor choose me for a story?  She saw one of my Twitter posts about a new dental product.  She thought it would be a great news story.  The post only took seconds to write, and very little creativity, but it landed my practice on the 6 o'clock news.  If I had given up two months after earlier, this never would have happened.  You can avoid the Twitter pitfalls, and go on to have great Twitter success.

Some of the most common Twitter pitfalls:

Pitfall #1 - Focusing only on follower numbers- Twitter followers are like dental patients.  We want a million of them, but we want quality as well as quantity.  Many people try to get as many followers as possible.  They don't pay attention to quality, and they wind up with a real time stream of fluff and spam.   After a while the copious amounts of spam will become tiresome, and the account will go unused.

The Cure - Follow and connect with users who fit in your goal.  If you are using Twitter to connect with potential patients, connect with people in your area.  You don't need 1,000 fans in California if you live in Florida.   There are several tools you can use to find users in your area.  The new local trending tool can be a great asset.    Evaluate the tweets of people you connect with.  If they repeat posts or spam, don't follow them.  They will cloud your feed.    In previous articles we have noted that some search engines will use tweets to populate search results.  We also learned that having connections to spammers and non-qualified accounts, may decrease the rank power of your tweets.

Pitfall #2 - I am not getting any patients, and no one is talking to me.  Your a dentist, so you just go on Twitter and talk about dentistry, end of story right?  Not necessarily.  Several dentists think the public wants to know more about dentistry, so all they tweet about is dentistry.  Newsflash, no one wants to talk about dentistry except dentists.

The cure - Social Media is about connecting with another person.  Talking about dentistry will make you seem like a dental robot, not a person.  When on Twitter or another platform, take a break from dentistry.  Talk about things in the community, your life, or on T.V.  Make your profile seem like a real person.  Then throw in a little dentistry every once and while to remind them that you are a dentist.  Once they need an appointment, they will remember Dr. Xyz, because he seemed like a nice helpful guy.  That is how I got the T.V. interview.  The news anchor saw my only "dental" tweet that week.

Pitfall #3 - I have made connections on Facebook and Twitter and now it is getting tiresome.  I can't keep up. Many dentists see the social media thing taking off, and they jump into every social media platform at once.

The cure - Start out slow.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  Time management can be very important to the success of a social media campaign.

Pitfall#4 - I haven't posted anything on Facebook or Twitter in a couple of weeks.  Just setting up social media profiles is a big step and can increase visibility.  An account that isn't active is almost worse than not having one at all.  It makes it look like you don't care or that you don't offer up good information.

The Cure - Keep an account active, even if it is one or two posts a week.  Even if the posts are scarce, they will add up over time and will seem like a nice catalog of information.  Once again, time management plays a big part in being successful.  Set a schedule to post content.  It is much easier to post when you have already planned for it. Don't get discouraged with social media. When you set parameters for yourself, and use great time management, your social media experience can be very rewarding.  Take a deep breath.  Social media is the new hot topic and "must have" element of your marketing campaign.   Take your time, and educate yourself about social media. Facebook and Twitter will still be waiting for you tomorrow.

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.