From Twitter to your office

Every social media expert is telling you to use Twitter to interact with potential clients.

Jason Lipscomb, DDS

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Every social media expert is telling you to use Twitter to interact with potential clients. What they don't tell you is how to transition the virtual relationship into a physical relationship, which results in the person becoming an actual patient.

In this column, I am going to teach you how to use Twitter as a powerful, multifaceted tool that will not only bring you patients, but also help you get noticed by the media, as well as provide content for your Web site and blog.

I must admit that when Twitter first arrived on the social media scene, it was difficult for me to see how I could get any benefit from it. It was not until I had a conversation with my business partner that I realized I was approaching Twitter the wrong way.

I was looking at Twitter as something that I had to do every day. I found myself struggling to make life seem interesting. After all, who wants to read boring "tweets" about what you are eating for lunch?

The true power of Twitter lies in its flexibility to do many things at once. First, you have to see Twitter for what it truly is. Twitter is a large, diverse collection of individuals. The key is to use the wisdom of the group to your advantage. My business partner, Stephen Knight, estimates that Twitter saves him about $100,000 a year. How could this happen?

He leverages the power of Twitter. He publishes a popular technology newsletter that is read by some 10,000 individuals. Before using Twitter, he was spending approximately 40 hours each month writing, researching, and developing sample files for his newsletter.

Now, he simply "tweets" the type of articles he is looking for and his followers jump on the opportunity to write the articles for him. The cost to him? Zero. The newsletter followers are excited about the opportunity to get their names in front of 10,000 people. This is just one example of how he has turned Twitter into a tool instead of a burden.

So, how can a dentist use Twitter? The main ways that a dentist can take advantage of Twitter are by:


  • Becoming the local expert
  • Using the crowd to provide content for the dentist's Web site and blog
  • Advertising
  • Engaging the local media
  • Transference from Twitter to personal communication
  • Networking – utilizing opinion leaders and having them drive others to action
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

People love to learn. We are naturally inquisitive. That is why how-to and self-help books are so popular. We are always looking for ways to improve our lives. Dentists can use this to their advantage by simply tweeting helpful tidbits to their followers.

Have your hygienist or assistant make a quick list of targeted topics you can tweet. This could include a series of tweets on fluoride or teeth whitening.

Here is another example. Is fluoride harmful? At what age can children start using fluoride? Is fluoride necessary or is there an alternative?

Simple tweets such as these examples are informative and will most likely be re-tweeted to others. Do you want to drive your followers to your Web site? Then write a short article on the topic about which you are tweeting, post the article to your Web site or blog, and include the URL in your tweet.

You can establish yourself quickly as the local dental expert by engaging your local community and providing helpful information that members will want to re-tweet. Next, follow local media and opinion leaders, comment on their tweets, and suggest human interest stories to them. Journalists love great stories. Tweet about something interesting and unique being done in your practice.

Start an "Ask Your Dentist" style Twitter campaign in which you address questions daily. Make sure you focus on your local community. You will want to have 15 to 20 starter questions to build momentum.

The main result you want from Twitter is to have more eyes on you and your Web site. What other opportunity do you have to talk to your local community daily? If you want new patients, use Twitter to drive people to your Web site and blog. From there, you need to capture their e-mail addresses so you can continue to communicate with them on a more personal level.

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." Reach Dr. Lipscomb at Jason@socialmediadentist.com or visit www.socialmediadentist.com.


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