By Glenn Lombardi
Loyal patients are the best type of patients. After all, a happy patient is a returning patient, and one who will refer you to friends, family, and coworkers. Dentists seek to improve patient retention and breed patient loyalty. With the rise in social media, it’s becoming relatively easy to foster positive relationships with patients outside of the normal office setting.
Engaging patients through social communities can have far-reaching effects on patient loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and increased referrals. Here are some ways social media can help nurture and strengthen emerging relationships to build loyal, lifetime patients.
1. Earn patient trust
Earning the trust of patients is key to building loyalty. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms, you can help establish this trust by inviting patients to be a part of your social community. When you go out of your way as a dentist to better communicate, help, and engage with patients outside of traditional appointments, it constantly reaffirms that your practice is available, trustworthy, and credible. This trust breeds loyalty, which in turn motivates patients to spread positive reviews about your practice online and through word of mouth.
2. Be helpful
Don’t deploy your social media plan just for the sake of having a social presence. Use your social media sites to provide educational content and information that is beneficial to patients. This could include sharing tips for improved oral health on your Twitter profile, a blog announcing a new staff member, animations on your Facebook page explaining a procedure, and even YouTube video testimonials from some of your patients. All of these help improve a patient’s understanding and commitment to the care you provide.
3. Fuel interaction
Social media allows for ongoing dialogue between you and patients — a space where they can be heard and where you can consistently learn and respond to their needs and questions. You and your staff can deepen these connections by joining in the conversation and inspiring new and creative ways to keep patients and referrals engaged. If a patient initiates a conversation on your Facebook page, respond promptly to show that you value the input and are interested in what someone has to say. This type of personal interaction will have a lasting impact on your community of followers as they learn to trust and appreciate their dentist’s willingness to openly share and engage.
4. Offer exclusivity
Offering a special teeth-whitening promotion during the month of June? Giving away prizes and gift cards around the holidays? Use your social media channels to inform patients about exclusive promotions or incentives in your office. This is a great way to drive patient interaction, increase awareness about your services, and show patients you value their loyalty. One of the greatest advantages of social media is that patients can send these exclusive offers to their friends and relatives, thus helping you grow your patient base without any extra effort.
5. Make it easy for patients to share experiences with friends
One of the main goals of your social media presence should be to engage new contacts through your existing patients. You can do this by incorporating social-sharing buttons and widgets on your website and other marketing channels such as a newsletter, office banner, or postcard. This makes it easy for patients to recommend content you’ve shared via social media with their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. It is a simple addition that can make all the difference in growing your referrals.
Unlike many traditional marketing strategies, social media is opening up a whole new world for dentists to connect directly with patients, deepen patient loyalty, and expand their referrals. Don’t miss out on an incredible opportunity to build meaningful patient relationships that will have a lasting impact on the growth of your practice.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, including social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than a half million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more information, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
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