Not every practice should use Twitter- should yours?

April 10, 2015
You already know you should be using social media marketing to reach your practice's target audiences. What may not be so clear is which platforms to use, what kind of message to send, and how to measure the success of your efforts!

Kristie Nation

You already know you should be using social media marketing to reach your practice's target audiences. What may not be so clear is which platforms to use, what kind of message to send, and how to measure the success of your efforts!

Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, but is it really the right place for your practice to shine? It all depends on who you are trying to reach. Is your potential patient base comprised of college grads just learning how to take care of their own health-care needs, parents of children needing pediatric care, or seniors hoping for restorative dental services?

Who uses Twitter, and why?

Different social media platforms have different kinds of appeal. Twitter's bite-sized format, instant messaging style, and ease of use make it a favorite of the millennial generation. Does your practice hope to target younger patients with an eye to long-term retention? If so, you are in luck, because younger people are more likely to follow a brand on Twitter to support it.

Mothers, one of the biggest target audiences for health-related services, use Twitter on mobile devices more than they do on desktops. Image-based posts (e.g., photos, videos) spark the most interaction. Moms also tend to follow brands on Twitter for up-to-date information on discounts and coupons. But when looking for information about a company, they use Facebook or Pinterest, both of which are more visual than Twitter. If you rarely use photos or videos to build your practice patient base, Twitter may not be your best option for social outreach.

Want to give Twitter a try?

Start by using information you already have to target Twitter users. Currently, Twitter allows you to upload data (e.g., email addresses, mobile phone numbers), which are used to generate lists of like consumers on the Twitter platform.

Hashtags can greatly expand a post's reach. "Want a smile suited for the red carpet? Try #teethwhitening today at Mayflower Dental! #GoldenGlobes" could be your way to join the ongoing conversation and expand interest in your practice.

Another tip: stay professional. "Twitspeak" is for kids chronicling their lives while their friends watch. Your practice should use "you," not "u." Likewise, avoid negative hashtags or comments-staying positive keeps you above the fray. At the same time, be playful and fun if the chance presents itself; a pun in good taste is fine!

To tweet or not to tweet?

Overall, the first question you ask shouldn't be, "How do I use Twitter?" but "Should I use Twitter?" If you have limited resources to expend on social media and find Twitter isn't delivering value to your practice, focusing your efforts elsewhere is wise. Of course, this means you have to determine what constitutes value (e.g., a call to your practice, new patient acquisition), and then monitor your Twitter activity using tools to measure its effect.

Before you give up on Twitter and turn to another social network, there's another question you should ask. Does your message feel advertorial? If your social media posts-no matter their length or delivery method-come off as a constant series of commercials or promotions, you are wasting your time and would be better suited returning to traditional advertising methods.

However, if you are ready and willing to stretch yourself and take the extra effort required to become conversational with your potential patients and their families, social media (Twitter or otherwise) can deliver astounding ROI.

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.

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