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A social media campaign can be implemented without spending a penny; however, this means you would have to create the entire campaign yourself. Unless you are a talented graphic artist or Web expert, I do not encourage this strategy, especially when you first get started. What can you expect to pay to begin a simple campaign? Anywhere from $200 to $500 will enable you to develop a simple social media campaign.
Why do I encourage you to have professional help when you get started? Two reasons: professional image/representation of your practice, and brand consistency. Many of my colleagues who have a social media campaign have struggled with the concept of creating one unified idea across numerous social channels.
There must be a consistent message, a continuation of your brand. Most dentists have a Web site that conveys a certain message, then a Facebook page that looks nothing like their Web site, and a Twitter page that uses a generic Twitter background. You want to create a powerful, congruent message across all the social media networks you use.
I suggest hiring an experienced graphic artist to create a uniform look that is carried from your Web site, to your blog, to Facebook, and to Twitter. Graphic artists can quickly create a customized header for a blog, and a custom Twitter background. I also would use a Web expert to set up a Wordpress blog. There are numerous Wordpress tutorials on YouTube that teach you how to write your first blog. Web and blog experts are available on Elance and Guru.
Your cost to create a blog header, custom Twitter background, and Facebook page should be less than $300. Facebook costs can escalate quickly if you want Flash and many widgets and features added. Other costs include Web hosting and buying article content.
How about paying for article content? Many dentists do not have the time to write blog posts or articles for Facebook and Twitter. Article repositories are available that enable you to buy articles exclusively written for dentists.
The articles are open license and cover the most frequently asked questions. The articles can be edited quickly with your branding. Generally, a subscription to this type of service runs about $19 a month. The articles are written by dental students, medical experts, and retired dentists.
You also can use expert writers from “for hire” sites such as Elance and Guru. Contact Social Media for Dentists for more information on hiring third-party experts for Web site development, graphic design, or writing content for blogs.
Your social media campaign should initially cost about 1% to 5% of what you would pay for traditional advertising.
Before you spend any money on a social media plan, it is best to know what you would like the outcome to be. Know your goals and have realistic expectations. You also should take a quick assessment to see what tools you already have in place, and if they are optimized to their full potential.
Do you have a Web site?
- How often is it updated?
- Has it been optimized properly for SEO?
- Is your site connected to any social media sites?
- Do you collect any information from visitors to your site? What do you do with this information?
- Do you provide any helpful resources that visitors can download to begin a conversation with you?
Do you have a blog?
- How often is it updated?
- Does it transfer a consistent message and design from your Web site?
- Do you link to your blog from your Web site or other social media networks?
- Is your blog optimized for SEO? Are you using any SEO plug-ins?
- Is useful content embedded (e.g., YouTube videos)?
- Do you actively ask visitors to comment on blog posts?
- Do you send people to your blog from other social media sites?
Do you collect your patients’ e-mail addresses:
- from your Web site?
- from your blog?
- from their visits to your office?
- Do you currently have an e-mail campaign or use software to manage your e-mails?
This is a good starting point for developing a social media plan to grow your practice. Remember, there are helpful resources available. I encourage you to take advantage of experts who can help you launch a social media campaign.
Jason T. Lipscomb, DDS, is a general dentist in Virginia, where he operates two dental practices. He educates dentists on how to market a practice with social media. Dr. Lipscomb and his partner, Stephen Knight, have released a social media handbook for dentists, “Social Media for Dentists.” You can reach Dr. Lipscomb via e-mail at Jason@socialmediadentist.com.