There is a good chance that social media hasn’t been a priority for your practice until recently. For years, dentists and other medical professionals have relied on word-of-mouth and referrals to bring in new patients.
However, more recent generations of patients are increasingly replacing word-of-mouth recommendations with those they find online. This change in behavior has made it crucial that your practice develop a social media strategy.
While there’s no shortage of social media guides to help your practice to get started, many will encourage you to build out an elaborate strategy or even outsource your marketing to an outside firm. Thankfully employing a few basics of social media marketing should yield positive results for your practice.
Social media’s role for your practice
It’s not unreasonable to think that the main goal of social media marketing is getting as many likes and followers as possible, but consider which audience is going to be relevant to your business. Your target audience should be potential patients that are limited to residents local to your practice, Investing in efforts that grow global followers, might not be relevant to the growth of your practice.
Chances are that your future patients will discover your practice through a location-based search on Google or Yelp, and not through social media. However, social media provides future patients with an important window into your practice that can help convince them to schedule an appointment.
Before making a decision about a local business, 97 percent of customers will find out more online. For potential patients that could mean reading reviews and looking at photos of your practice and staff on social media.
Curating what patients see
Close to 60 percent of the public has anxiety about going to the dentist, mostly centered around concerns of pain or negative past experiences. When future patients look at your social profiles, they’re looking for confirmation that they’ll have a positive experience with your practice.
Posting images of your staff can help to humanize your practice, particularly when they’re doing activities outside of their job function like celebrating a birthday or going to a team outing. Sharing images of your waiting room and practice can help make your space more inviting, you can even make a fun video tour of your practice.
Online reviews are the new patient referral
Patient referrals will always remain essential to your practice’s growth strategy, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so it’s important that you’re putting effort into asking for patient reviews.
If you already provide referral cards at the end of annual checkups, you could provide the relevant information (links to your Yelp, ZocDoc, Facebook pages) for patients to review your practice. However, asking patients directly to leave reviews will likely prove the most effective, as 70 percent of consumers will leave an online review if you just ask them.
If you receive a negative review, make a point to publicly acknowledge the patient’s concerns and apologize for their experience. If you offer solutions and try to make things right for the patient, it will help paint your practice in a more positive light.
Time to get started
Start by focusing your efforts on Facebook and Instagram, as visual content like photos and video will be the most beneficial. Facebook will also allow you to create a business profile providing a place for patients to leave reviews and new visitors to easily contact your practice. Platforms like Twitter and YouTube require significantly more work to see results and may not be worth the effort long term.
Make a point to assign a weekly to semi-weekly social media task to a member of your staff, that way your practice maintains a consistent schedule of posts and quickly builds up a library of content. Remember to try to have fun with your posts, showing the human side of your practice will go a long way towards relieving a patient’s anxieties.