When it comes to social media, the content your practice shares has a direct effect on how much your audience engages with your posts. The main power of social media comes from its ability to provide social proof, a term coined by psychologist and author Robert Cialdini.1
When consumers are unsure about what to do next, they look to those around them for advice and input. In today’s increasingly digital world, this means your prospective patients are looking to people on their social media platforms to provide the social proof they need to make decisions.
You can use this need for social proof to increase your practice’s visibility online. The content you post on social media should focus on providing relevant, motivating reasons for your potential patient audience to trust you, and the quality of your content will determine how successful you are.
There are five levels of content quality when it comes to providing social proof.
Having an empty social media page is worse than having no social presence at all. An empty page tells your audience that you aren’t invested enough in them to post even self-promotional content to get their attention. An empty Facebook wall or one with a post or two a year will lead social media users to quickly move on, and they may even presume your practice is closed.
Putting a plan in place to provide even as few as three high-quality, engaging, and informative posts a week can keep your practice from being dead in the water on social media, and posting once a day can slowly build your online image and authority without overwhelming your audience.2
There are plenty of practices and other dental-related resources that share curated content, but you should be careful about what, when, and how you curate. Third-party material may do damage to your practice’s reputation if you don’t filter out low-quality content.
About 23% of social media users are annoyed when they see the same content over and over again and report that they unfollow pages that deliver stale content.3 In the same vein, 28% say they are annoyed by content that is poorly designed (i.e., poor-quality images and graphics or bad text placement), and 39% say poorly written, worded, or proofed copy turns them off.3 Three out of five people say they would avoid a brand that doesn’t deliver high-quality content.3
That doesn’t mean you should never share curated content—just that you should check carefully to make sure it
• represents the quality you want associated with your practice;
• is accurate, well written, and contains no errors; and
• fits with the “feel” of your practice—for example, a pediatric practice should deliver wholesome images, and a trailer of the latest horror film focused on a toothy monster might not be appropriate.
You can put your own spin on curated content by providing a new image and text to go with an interesting story link, and by asking your audience a new question about the topic to spark engagement.
Your content will start to gain more traction with the more effort you put into customizing it. Start by using high-quality images purchased from stock sites, but personalize them with your practice logo and a powerful headline.
Look for timeless content, such as motivational quotes about smiles or self-confidence, and frame it against an amazing photo. Use your practice logo to brand photo postings with a question, such as “What motivates you to take care of your smile?” or “What gives you the most self-confidence when going into a new situation?”
This approach can be used for video and list content as well, blending curation and customization to deliver a great user experience for visitors to your practice’s social pages.
Unique content is the gold standard for social media engagement. Truly unique content delivers a level of quality that has high potential for interaction. You can gather any and all of the following visual content:
• photos of yourself and your team in various situations, such as a team photo, team member of the month feature, etc.
• videos of yourself and your team participating in practice-based or community events (this ties into offline public relations)
• images and walk-throughs of your practice, or informational visual content about your technology and equipment
• photos and videos of patient procedures and smiles (with appropriate and legally compliant permission from individuals involved)
Using actual photography and videos will draw your audience in as you humanize a visit to the dentist and make them feel comfortable with you, your team, and your office. You can also create custom polls and other interactive content to engage your audience.
Videos should be either extremely short (30 seconds at most) or longer than three minutes with enough powerful information to keep the viewer engaged. Social media users have incredibly short attention spans, and Facebook in particular rewards social accounts that can hold a user’s attention past the three-minute mark.4 Believe it or not, 10-second videos tend to gain the most traction.
High-quality resources such as infographics can add to the visual appeal.5 Consider printing out your customized practice infographics on high-quality cardstock to hand out physically in your office, and remind your followers on social that they can get a copy at their next visit.
Get your entire team involved in custom content creation. The more that team members are involved in promoting your practice, the more likely they will be to share that content on their own personal social media profiles, expanding your reach and adding a level of reference you can’t get through your practice’s efforts alone.6
Finally, one of the most powerful and impactful types of content you can share on your social platforms won’t come from your practice at all but from your patients. Back to the concept of social proof—your audience is more apt to trust content and recommendations from peers. User-generated content is better than anything else. It can provide tremendous incentive for viewers to consider your practice when they need dental care.
User-generated content on Facebook can be enormously helpful to your practice, but Instagram is where this technique is yielding the most impressive results. Don’t be afraid to share up to 50% of your posts from follower accounts if they have great content. Some brands tip the scale even more toward users with fantastic results.7
Don’t forget to include a call to action when you post user-generated content. This more than any other type of addition to your social posts can help you track actions taken by your audience.8 A simple Book Now button on Facebook can allow viewers to make that instant decision to reach out for an appointment, and it can provide real, measurable ROI for your efforts on social media.9
Running social media contests is a terrific way to build a solid bank of user-generated content you can use over time in your feeds to create the balance of informative and inspirational material your audience craves.
Finally, testimonials and reviews are the lifeblood of a practice. They are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals, which have always been the source of the highest quality of new patients. By encouraging your patients to leave you positive feedback, you build a foundation of user-generated content that has unmatched value when it comes to that all-important social proof.10
Bottom line, your ultimate goal should be to create the best possible experience for social media users and build credibility for your practice. Consistent and exceptional content provides the social proof that potential patients using social channels to research your practice require. A commitment to carefully and consistently curated, customized, and user-generated content will be what delivers the best results for your practice year after year.
1. Shah A. How to use social proof in your marketing. Social Media Examiner website. https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-social-proof-marketing. Published April 10, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
2. Myers L. How often to post on social media: 2019 success guide. Louise Myers website. https://louisem.com/144557/often-post-social-media. Published March 25, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
3. Mendenhall N. 8 ways your social media content is annoying your audience. Social Media Today website. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/8-ways-that-your-social-media-content-is-annoying-your-audience/554091. Published May 5, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
4. Facebook newsfeed algorithm history. Wallaroo Media website. https://wallaroomedia.com/facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-history. Updated May 30, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
5. Guerrero A. 10 types of visual social media posts that get shared like crazy. Jeff Bullas website. https://www.jeffbullas.com/10-types-of-visual-social-media-posts-that-get-shared-like-crazy. Published May 4, 2015. Updated April 24, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2019.
6. Garcia A. 5 reasons why your entire team should contribute to your content efforts. Social Media Today website. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/5-reasons-why-your-entire-team-should-contribute-to-your-content-efforts/554020. Published May 5, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
7. Peters B. How user generated content (UGC) grew our Instagram account by 400% in one year. Buffer website. https://buffer.com/resources/user-generated-content. Published December 9, 2016. Updated February 19, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019.
8. Zantal-Wiener A. 14 essential tips for an engaging Facebook business page. Hubspot website. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-create-facebook-business-page-ht. Published June 21, 2017. Updated March 26, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.
9. Frost A. 7 types of awesome social media content your brand can be creating right now. Buffer website. https://buffer.com/resources/social-media-content. Published July 21, 2016. Updated July 21, 2016. Accessed May 31, 2019.
10. Marrs M. 10 tips for creating content on Facebook that gets the thumbs up. Wordstream website. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2011/10/19/10-facebook-tips-for-content. Updated April 9, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019.
KRISTIE NATION is the founder and CEO of myDentalCMO, a marketing consulting firm that provides strategic marketing “treatment plans” exclusively for dental practices. The firm was founded with a mission to prevent dentists from wasting countless dollars marketing their practices ineffectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (877) 746-4410.