How dentists can leverage blogs to reach new and existing patients

If you have a website, then you have already taken the most critical step toward marketing your practice in an increasingly Internet-savvy age.

Glenn Lombardi

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If you have a website, then you have already taken the most critical step toward marketing your practice in an increasingly Internet-savvy age. Today’s patients not only rely on the Internet for personal health information, but they also expect a level of Web interaction and communication from their dentist. That’s because popular social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are growing rapidly and enable patients to use a variety of social media resources for support, education, and treatment decisions.

Dentists are just beginning to embrace social media as an important component of their Internet marketing strategy. If you have not already done so, start blogging. This is the best way to embrace and engage a successful social media plan. In many cases, a blog may already be integrated with your professionally designed website. To get started, you need to begin contributing content to the blog.

I’m a dentist. Do I really need to blog?

To put it simply, yes. While a blog certainly will not deliver an instant return on investment, it can with time build awareness for your practice and help promote services to existing and potential patients. Blogs are driven by content, and a practice blog gives you the freedom to write and publish content that is unique to you and your practice. Written effectively, blogs present the perfect opportunity to interact with patients while promoting your services.

More importantly, blogs offer the ability to dually publish content on other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, acting as a base camp for your social media operations. Routine posts to your blog can be synced with your Facebook and Twitter pages for seamless social network management. For dentists with little time to write engaging content, a professional website company can manage the entire social network for the practice, including content creation and weekly postings.

Follow these guidelines to create a quality blog post for your readers and the search engines.

Get your point across

Lengthy blog posts can lose reader interest while pages with clean white space are easier to scan and more likely to keep patients on the page. Include subheadings and bullet points every few paragraphs so readers can quickly browse your post for the information they want. Offer advice and tips for improved health, and inform patients about new technology and treatments that are specific to your practice. For example, if you are offering new dental technology or an innovative procedure, then a blog on this topic with a testimonial from one of your patients will be very effective in generating awareness for new services.

Post consistently

Post regularly to your blog with new and updated content, and once you develop an audience, keep them coming back by adhering to a schedule. We suggest that you consider blogging a minimum of once a week. Blogs are highly effective at boosting a website’s search ranking as a continuous stream of new, relevant content is rewarded through the search engines.

Get personal

Your blog is a reflection of you and your practice, so include information that is unique to your services, staff, and practice goals. Blogs are meant to be more informal than your website, so write posts in your distinct voice to showcase the human side of your practice. Using words such as “I,” “we,” and “you” will make it appear conversational between you and your readers and will encourage them to write back. Readers will feel valued if you involve them in meaningful two-way conversation.

Seek professional blogging services

For busy dentists, many dental website marketing providers offer blog services — an automated process that allows you to be as hands-on or hands-off as you would like. This service generally includes the professional copywriting of blog content about topics pertaining to your service offering.

Dentists should not rely solely on blogging to increase new patient revenue. Instead, blogs should be used in combination with your website and other marketing initiatives to increase referrals and educate patients about your services. Like any marketing tactic, blogs require diligent maintenance to achieve measurable results. With the right approach, your practice blog can be a great educational tool and valuable addition to your website.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated more than a quarter of a million appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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