by Bill Blatchford
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: social networking, marketing, Internet, communications, Dr. Bill Blatchford.
Life is moving so fast, we can barely keep up. Business practices and marketing ideas are happening on the Internet at a speed we cannot comprehend. Called Web 2.0, social networking is the idea of bringing people together for friendship and business. There are so many sites to choose from. You will find long–lost friends, connect with overseas cousins, and you can even create your own community from your Web site!
We are social creatures by nature and the Internet can actually bring us together on specific topics that are of interest to us. One reason to join a social network is to find commonality with others. Social connections and communications are changing from physical meetings to instant online interactions, problem solving interchanges, and venues for questions and answers. Social networks give us the illusion of closeness that transcends geographic boundaries. These can be very influential in politics, business, and on a personal level.
The importance to me for people and businesses (dentistry) to be involved in social networking is so we can have an opportunity to direct our brand or offer services instantly and uniquely. If we have no presence, our marketing still happens but could take a negative turn such as, “Dr. Smith doesn't listen and her hygienist hurt me.” You can't be on every site every minute, but part of your marketing effort is to be present and put a positive spin on yourself personally and professionally.
Social networking is huge. Daily, 450,000 people join Facebook. We recommend that you have a Facebook profile for your business. On it, you can share office photos and before–and–after pictures, update events, and post testimonials as well as YouTube videos, which you can produce with your video camera.
Dr. Zach Hodgins posted “Help Wanted” on his Facebook site and received more than 100 resumes, from which he selected “the perfect one.” Dr. Kari Chellis posted a LANAP YouTube video, and Dr. Molly Rodgers posted an incredible testimonial that arrived on her Smile Reminder, which she copied to her Facebook page. You can have links to your Facebook profile from your Web site and vice versa.
Dr. Hodgins says, “Tons of exciting things are happening in social media. For example, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter from my Web site.”
“The Web has essentially revolutionized the way consumers, and in this case potential patients, find dentists,” says Smile Reminder president and CEO Jim Higgins.
“Word–of–mouth advertising has always been the strongest contributor to practice growth. Now, with the growing impact of video on search engine placement, it will be hard for a practice to survive without the combination of both. Simply put, video testimonials online are the most effective means of reaching your target audience on a large scale.”
Today, people want a two–way street on the Internet as they actively seek brands to help them identify who they are and what they stand for, much like the social clubs and community affiliations of yore. Consumers are driving the brands, not just the companies. Social media is about people talking with people rather than advertising at them.
Michael Elliott of Rocketdog.org says, “Consumers, prospects, and partners are connecting, sharing, and growing with each other. Never forget this — prospects trust consumers more than you and now they are talking to each other using social media tools.”
Further, Elliott says, “Companies need to start listening to the social Web. Marketing on the Web means informing, educating, and entertaining those communities of people who care about issues, problems, wants, and needs met by your company.” His mantra is: “Do it authentically, openly, and knowing the world is watching.”
Some sites you may want to investigate are: HiveLive.com, which talks about cooperation, cocreation, and coinnovation. Kickapps.com makes your Web site a social networking community for positive comments. LinkedIn.com says, “relationships matter.” Flicker and YouTube are for photos and videos. Akamai.com feels it is the leader in Web application, acceleration, and performance. Twitter.com offers the opportunity for quick, frequent answers. Look at the impact for social good that occurred with Kutcher vs. CNN on Twitter. These actions speak volumes.
New social networking sites are emerging weekly. New ideas for business participation are being created as we speak. In fact, in the month between writing this and publication, the world will change again. Partake in the adventure. Make it part of your marketing.
Dr. Blatchford's book, “Blatchford BLUEPRINTS — the Art of Creating Practice Success,” is available at www.blatchford.com for $39. Profits go to the Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation. Dr. Blatchford is speaking Nov. 11–14 at the AAID convention in New Orleans. CareCredit has produced a complimentary CD called “Business Principles in Any Economy.”