by Glenn Lombardi
Like it or not, social media platforms such as Facebook and Google+ have become mainstream communication tools for businesses. Never before has connecting and sharing real-time information with like-minded users been so easy, fast, and effective. Now, well into 2013, new trends in social media are opening doors to even greater exposure for dental practices.
Most dentists today know they need to use social media as a major player in their marketing strategy. They're just not completely confident in how to incorporate it effectively. Here are a few ways your practice can benefit from embracing social media as a critical part of its marketing plan.
Your patients use social media
A plain and simple fact is that your patients are participating in the social sphere every day to connect with their friends and the businesses they love. According to a study by Pew Research, 69% of online adults were using social networking sites as of August 2012. More than 625,000 people join Google+ every day. As of October 2012, there were more than one billion monthly active Facebook users.
For many, logging into Facebook or sending a Tweet is second nature, a part of their daily routine that lets them share and learn from other users with just the click of their mouse or a tap of their phone. For dentists, it's a powerful vehicle that can encourage interaction with existing and potential patients. Bottom line: Your patients are online, and therefore your practice needs to be online, too.
Social is now mobile
Mobile usage is accelerating the growth of social media, as more people find and consume information on smartphones and tablets. A survey by Google revealed that 60% of U.S. smartphone users in 2012 said they visited mobile social networks daily. This is up from 54% in 2011. According to Facebook, 604 million monthly active users were using Facebook mobile platforms at the end of last year.
This means that a growing number of mobile users will have even more opportunities to connect with your practice more frequently. Now any content you share on your social media sites can easily be consumed and shared by patients and their contacts on the fly. Don't forget to optimize the content you share, such as blogs and service information, for mobile devices to ensure optimal readability across all types of web-based devices.
Social media expands your reach
Finally, since dentists thrive off of word-of-mouth referrals, your practice cannot pass up the opportunity to get even more patients from the newest version of word-of-mouth -- social media. Social media is a great tool for connecting with your existing patients, and so naturally, it's also a highly effective platform for reaching new patients and generating referrals. That's because all of your fans and followers have their connections -- many hundreds of followers within their networks.
So if one of your Facebook followers (a current patient) with 200 friends shares one of your Facebook posts with his or her contacts, your one post has now reached those 200 people. Here's the viral effect. Suddenly, you have thousands of people visiting your Facebook page and website. These are people who otherwise would have never seen it. The more content you create and share, the more likely others in your network will share your information, acknowledge you as an expert in dentistry, and hopefully, seek you for their dental health care.
As you seek new and improved ways to interact with patients and make new connections with prospects, make sure social media is playing a vital role in your marketing mix. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other popular sites are growing. Without your unique social presence, you will miss out on a powerful opportunity to grow your practice via online word-of-mouth.
Proper and consistent use of social media is the key, and building a strong following is not an overnight occurrence. It takes time. Work with your website provider or an expert in social media for dentists to avoid common missteps and integrate a solid social media plan with your website that yields powerful results.
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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