3 ways dentists should be using social media but aren't

In a 2012 survey, 67% of dentists reported having Facebook pages for their practices. While many dental offices are now on Facebook, often the marketing power of these pages is underused with minimal "fans" and a lack of content.

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by Kevin Burniston

In a 2012 survey, 67% of dentists reported having Facebook pages for their practices. While many dental offices are now on Facebook, often the marketing power of these pages is underused with minimal "fans" and a lack of content.

A Facebook page cannot help grow your practice if there's no one there to see it. Start by building an audience for your page. This is easier than most offices think, and in most cases can be accomplished simply by asking current patients to "like" your page.

Hand out cards with the Facebook page address, include the message in appointment reminders, and mention the Facebook page at the front desk when patients check in, especially if your office offers free Wi-Fi. Keep marketing materials around the office that encourage patients to visit and "like" your page. If team members need help delivering this message, supply them with scripting to guide these conversations such as:

"Did you know our office has a Facebook page now? Dr. Smith posts health tips and special discounts available to our Facebook fans only. Please take a minute to ‘like' our page. Here's the address."

If your page "likes" are not growing as fast as you would like, consider a contest to get things moving. For example, have patients guess the number of jelly beans in a jar at the front desk, and submit their guess on Facebook for a chance to win an iPad.

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While you are increasing your fan base, there are three key ways that you should be using the practice's Facebook page:

  1. Build Relationships: Facebook posts offer an opportunity to engage current patients (and potential patients) in a two-way discussion. With interesting, relevant content posted regularly, patients can interact with the dental office in a more personal way that builds loyalty to the practice. For best results, content should be a mix of oral health-related posts and local news. Keep in mind the interests of your audience and add information on upcoming area events, shows, weather, and the local sports teams.
  2. Generate Referrals: The average Facebook user has 150 friends. When a fan interacts with your page, their friends can see this activity. This generates free advertising for the practice. A social media relationship helps keep the dental office "top of mind" for patients, so when a Facebook friend is looking for a dentist, patients can quickly recommend their dentist with a link to the practice's Facebook page.
  3. Attract New Patients: Facebook ad campaigns can help dentists increase the audience for their pages, creating a pool of potential new patients. Target ads to the specific desired patient demographic to attract only qualified prospects and keep your advertising costs down.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of all social media activities is critical and should be reviewed regularly. Look at information such as the number of "likes," fan engagement (comments and shares), conversion of fans to patients, and quantity and quality of content. Engaging content is critical to growing page "likes."

The more interaction there is with a particular post, the more fans will see it. Without regular, creative posts, a Facebook page is really just going to waste. If your office does not have time to dedicate to regular content updates, consider outsourcing content creation. To learn more about using social media to grow your practice, contact your local Henry Schein representative.

During his nine years with Henry Schein, Kevin Burniston has had the opportunity to meet with more than 1,000 dentists. Each one has unique hopes, dreams, and concerns about his or her practice and family. Burniston's goal is to help dentists reach these dreams. Contact him at (800) 372-4346 or kevin.burniston@henryschein.com. Learn more at www.HenryScheinBusinessSolutions.com.

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