How to use social media to drive patient growth
According to research from Pew, over 50 percent of adults use their smartphones to find information about healthcare and often rely on social media to find reviews, referrals, and information about healthcare providers, it is in every dentist’s best interest to know how to harness these communication tools to promote his or her practice and reach new patients. Beyond sharing pictures of your dinner on Instagram, social media offers a multitude of channels to reach new patients with the added benefit of consistent information about your practice on social media sites ranging from Facebook to Yelp to Healthgrades can boost your search engine results. You may think that running a Facebook page is just for fun and keeping up with friends and family, but if done correctly, maintaining a professional social media presence can help to drive new visitors to your website and convert those visitors to new patients.
What can social media do for dentists?
More channels to reach patients
Social media platforms provide you with a variety of channels to reach out to patients with information about your practice. According to research from Pew, 65 percent of American adults use social media, and while younger adults are still the most ubiquitous users, 77 percent of adults aged 30-49 use social media and over 35 percent of adults aged 65 and older actively use social media. If so many people are using social media and don’t forget that consumer review sites like Yelp, Zocdoc, and HealthGrades are considered social, it is a good idea to use these channels to reach patients.
Open conversations with patients
Another benefit of social media is that it provides a two-way communications channel. For example, if a patient leaves a review about your service or practice, you can respond to them. If they have a good experience, you can thank them or if it is a negative review, you can reach out to remedy the situation, demonstrating that you care about them as a patient and that their experience at your practice is important.
Social media is a fantastic tool for sharing special offers or promotions you may offer at your practice. For example, if you run a promotion with a discounted price for a checkup and cleaning for new patients, you can use social media to announce and spread that message with links for new patients to visit your website for more information or to book an appointment. You may also run holiday promotions, several dentists may offer post-Halloween candy donations or exchanges or you could use these channels to share holiday well wishes with your community.
Push traffic to website
All of your social media posts should encourage people to visit your website. You can include backlinks to make it easy for them to click for more information. Once a potential patient is on your website, the content there should show them that you are the best dentist in their area to provide the needed service.
Boost search engine results
Even if you think that social media is more of a personal tool than a professional one, having consistent profiles can boost your search engine rankings. Google and other search engines look for consistency in addresses and details to determine if your website is an authority site. If your social media profiles and website all include the same practice name, address, contact information, and office hours, search engines will see that information as adding authority to your website.
Social media best practice for dentists
Now, to reap all of these benefits of social media it is essential to use these communications channels correctly and to follow best practice. This will ensure that your audiences stay engaged, visit your website and follow your call to action, which should be to book an appointment. This is what all of the website building and social media work and other marketing activities should lead to, more appointments.
An engaging social media presence should include a variety of forms of information. Text, photos, and videos are used across most profiles. While your key messages should be consistent across all media, you can use different methods of sharing that message. You can use blog posts, YouTube videos, or photo streams to share educational information, promotions, or news about your practice.
Your social media posts should be consistent. A one-off post to Facebook or Instagram snap is not going to drive traffic to your practice, but regular posts with useful or interesting information will help to increase your online presence and subsequently improve your search engine results. A top tip for staying on top of your social profiles is to plan and schedule your posts and to take your deadlines seriously. The best bloggers plan out their articles and content well in advance and use tools to auto publish preloaded articles at a specific time. A little planning and a simple schedule can help you to manage these profiles and to update them regularly. Who wants to follow a person or business who doesn’t make regular interesting posts.
Create content to reflect your practice
You can tailor your social content to reflect your practice and to educate your community about their dental health. As an expert and a leader in your community, it is a responsibility to share your knowledge and to encourage your patients and wider community towards better dental health outcomes. For example, are you passionate about preventing gum disease or ensuring that children have the correct fluoride treatments to protect their teeth through adulthood? Then share that knowledge and passion, not only are you providing a community service, but you are also establishing yourself as a thought leader and expert in your field. Alternatively, do you donate your time and services to your community? Use your social profiles to share your good work and demonstrate your commitment to helping others.
Social media is a useful tool for communicating with existing and potential patients. When someone uses one of these channels to reach out to you, it is so important to respond quickly and with purpose. While social media give you an opportunity to boost your reputation and communicate, it must be used wisely and sensitively to ensure success.
Social media can seem daunting, but with a little planning and consistent attention, the benefits to your practice can be dramatic. Attracting new patients is competitive, don’t get left behind.