Patients in your community are using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ everyday to follow their favorite brands, connect with local businesses, get special offers, and stay in touch with friends and family.
Social media is an important factor in building a comprehensive online marketing strategy for your practice. Below are five main reasons why social marketing is important to incorporate into online marketing for dental practices.
Engage with Clients in Between Visits
Patients may only come into your practice twice yearly and will likely only be in the office for an hour or less each time. This means that you don’t have contact with your patients for up to six months and their interactions with you and your staff are limited to about 2 hours a year.
If you don’t find a way to connect with patients in between visits, six months will go by without them thinking about your practice and the additional services your offer.
By connecting with patients in between visits you personalize yourself and your practice, increase the “stickiness” factor, and stay on a patient’s radar. Personalizing your practice makes patients more comfortable and builds trust. You increase the “stickiness” factor by connecting with patients, meaning they are less likely to want to find a new dentist if they move or change insurance.
When you make your practice visible on social media, you stay on a patient’s radar. They can contact you through social media and will easily remember your name and the name of your practice.
Engaging patients even when they aren’t in the office helps with retention while also improving the overall quality of the relationship with the patient.
As you are already aware, referrals are a great way to expand your business. In addition to providing excellent dental care, engagement on social media can increase referral business. Social media builds trust and loyalty. Patients that follow you on sites like Facebook are more likely to recommend your dental practice to their friends and families.
Social media sites also have the capability to capture reviews and recommendations. Potential patients can read what patients have to say about your practice. According to a recent survey, “90% of people trust online recommendations from people they know (Socialnomics.net, Jan 2013), while only 14% trust traditional TV ads.” That is pretty significant for capturing referral business.
Reach a Broad Audience
The average Facebook user has 130 friends (PR Daily, June 2012), although this number is often higher for users who login several times a day. When your followers engage with your post (by liking, commenting, retweeting, sharing, etc), their friends can see your post in their newsfeeds. By creating engaging content on social media sites, you are broadening your reach outside of your fans or followers.
For example, say Kevin is a patient and he follows you on Google+. You post a great video on how soda affects tooth enamel. Kevin watches the video, makes a comment, and gives it a “+1.” Now all of Kevin’s friends will see the video in their Google+ stream. If Kevin’s friend, Tracy, shares the video as well, now all of Tracy’s friends will see the video in their streams. Due to the nature of social media, the reach of engaging posts is exponential. You broaden the reach of your dental practice simply by posting to your social media business pages.
Social media may be a relatively new form of marketing when compared to other mediums like TV advertising. However, the impact on brand awareness works in the same manner. A patient can’t schedule an appointment with a dentist they can’t recall the name of or have never heard about.
Regular posts build brand recognition and awareness like TV advertising does, but in a more subtle way. Continuously posting to social media means that you will appear in the newsfeeds and streams of your followers.
Even followers that don’t comment on or engage with your posts see them. Brand awareness enables patients to remember the name of your practice when they need a dentist or think about oral health.
Additionally, social media extends your online presence beyond your website. Further reinforce your brand by designing pages that properly reflect your practice. Consistently using the same logo will build up your brand recognition, similar to how people can recognize Nike products simply from the swoosh logo.
Once you have created business pages on social media sites, you will have the option to advertise on these sites. Ads reach out to potential patients that are not followers or friends of followers.
Posting to your social media is a great one-to-many solution for disseminating information to your patients and fans. Do you have a special announcement about a member of your staff, a special offer on teeth cleaning, or an event you are participating in? Social media is a great way to get the word out about these types of announcements, specials, or events.
Did you know that 28% of consumers share deals through social media (MediaBistro, Jan 2013)? Posting about any specials or events going on in your practice ensures that the information is easy to see and share.
There are many other reasons to use social media for your practice, but the main reasons are to engage current patients while reaching out to new patients. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to grow your practice while keeping your existing patients happy.
Interested in Getting Started with Social Media for Your Business? Get the free ebook by iMatrix today or call us for a free one-on-one social media consultation at 1-800-IMATRIX.
Written by Rachel Cunningham
Rachel Cunningham is a Marketing Content Writer at iMatrix, a provider of affordable web marketing solutions for small, practice based businesses.