Social media is not new; Facebook started in 2004 and Instagram in 2010. What is new, and of importance to providers, is how social media continues to attract more and more people of all ages. And now, social media can be leveraged as a practice-building tool.
Social media has enabled people to stay socially connected while they socially distance. Many doctors think that if they have a website, that’s enough. Well, as with most business tools, it depends on your goals. If you want to attract and retain patients, adding a social media component to your online presence is important. I recently was talking with a millennial who said, “Who cares about a company’s website? It’s just a digital business card. People go to social media to find the real truth and what the company’s real story is.” Social media is where people go to:
- get current information on your practice and services
- understand your personality
- see authenticity
- get a glimpse of the experience they will have as a patient
The good news is, it’s much easier to consistently update and provide engaging content on social media than it is on your website.
Start with a system
Your practice has processes and systems for almost every function, and as such, you should have a system that defines your social media communication. Many practices handle social media spontaneously. However, if you want to save time and make your posts less stressful and more effective, it’s important to have a system and strategy in place. First, create a content calendar with a scheduling tool. Instead of organizing your content in a Google spreadsheet, Word document, or even a notepad, a scheduling tool can enable you to put content ideas right into place.
Create the right content
Once you have the tool, it’s time to create content. Before you begin, answer two questions that will guide you and your team:
1. How do you want your practice to be perceived? This is an easy one. Choose three to five adjectives that you’d like people to use when they describe your practice. Maybe you want to be perceived as current, high-tech, and innovative. Or maybe your personality/brand is friendly, community-driven, and fun. Maybe you’re that stylish practice that’s fit and healthy. Whatever those words are, they should be authentic because patients’ experience will need to align with their perception.
2. What services do you want to be known for in your community? If you want to be known for dental implants or clear aligners, then you should curate content that helps patients learn about these types of services, so you can do more of them.
When you’re creating content, try to hit an 80/20 balance: 80% of content should be social, the other 20% business-building. Social content should align with how you want to be perceived and could include photos and videos of the team, the doctor and their family, community events you support or attend, and fun or educational facts. Posting photos and content that’s positive in nature and tone is always popular. And, of course, expressing appreciation to current patients is an important message. Business-building content should thank patients for referrals, educate about new services or technologies, explain safety protocols (this will continue to be important and should be discussed frequently on social media), and give info on payment options available, including financing with the CareCredit credit card, as cost remains a top barrier to care acceptance.
The right channel and frequency
At a minimum, you should be posting content on Facebook, Instagram, and Google My Business. Google My Business is not a social media platform, but a place where you can be visible and post content. Google My Business archives content every seven days, so you’ll need to provide new content at that time.
Next, determine frequency. Yes, it’s important to be consistent, but content should also be relevant and valuable and support your overall business goals. At minimum, you should post quality content twice a week on each social media site.
One final piece of advice: it’s good to have another set of eyes on content before it’s published to a social media platform. Make sure the office manager or doctor has the opportunity to sign-off before posting to ensure there’s no misinformation, that the content aligns with your social media strategy, and, of course, that there are no typos.
For some quick tips, read through this pdf. Be positive, be consistent, and be authentic—both in life and on social media.