Dentists: Is Social Media Marketing Worth It?
2 Reasons Why It Is and 4 Ways to Do It
 
Dentists, like so many practice owners and marketers from every industry, are standing at the crossroads of old and new marketing media and trying to decide which path to take. You know the old strategies have worked for you, but you’re concerned that they may soon be replaced or that new media might offer better returns on your investment. Or maybe you’ve even dabbled in social media but not seen any results.
 
There are a lot of questions surrounding social media for dental practices, but let’s start by answering the million-dollar question…
 
Should your dental practice be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites? social media
 
Yes! There are two compelling reasons:
  1. Your patients are
  2. Your prospects are
In order to grow your practice, you need to stay in front of patients and prospects and build relationships with them. Social media can help you do that by connecting you to patients and prospects through a media that is considered more personal and less “market-y”. The trick is to know how to use it and to have a plan.
 
Here are 4 steps to make social media work for you:
  1. Generate Leads 
  2. Connect with Patients & Prospects Using Social Media
  3. Plan Your Social Communication Strategy
  4. Engage and Convert!
So let’s get started!
 
Generate Leads 
The first goal of marketing is lead generation. Without leads, there is no one to convert into sales. When it comes to lead generation, social media is not your friend. The simple fact of it is that social media is where you build relationships with patient and prospects, not where you start them. If you begin a social media campaign with lead gen as the goal, you will be disappointed.
 
To generate more leads for your dental practice, start with a targeted postcard campaign. Direct mail had always been a staple for the dental industry, and for good reason — it works! Postcards are a reliable way to increase the number of leads coming into your practice.
 
The first thing to consider for your postcard campaign is the list you will mail to. This will depend on who your best patients are. You will want to either compile or purchase a list of these prospects so you can promote to them with your direct mail campaign. Examples of lists you can purchase are:
  • Radius around your office, income 35k+
  • Home value 400k+, age 55+
  • Carrier route to local retirement community
 
For your direct mail offer, you might want to go with one of these, as I’ve seen them work before for my clients:
  • FREE Whitening for new Patients
  • FREE Consultation & X-Rays
  • FREE Children’s Cleaning + Check-up
  • FREE Sonicare Electric Toothbrush with New Patient Exam, Cleaning + X-Rays.
  • $59 Exam, Full Set of X-Rays and Cleaning
  • $25 Children’s Cleaning & Exam
  • $150 off Any Restorative Procedure (fillings, crowns, root canals, etc.)
  • $250 off Laser Whitening
  • Complimentary Exam
 
It’s ideal to have repetitive mailings, so don’t just mail once and stop. The more prospects are exposed to your message the more likely they are to respond. I always encourage my dental patients to have three to five cards that get mailed out over set time periods. We call this a campaign, and it’s proven to produce better response rates than single blast mailings.
 
Connect with Patients & Prospects Using Social Media
Once you have a steady stream of new leads flowing into your practice, you can begin your social media campaign. The best use for Facebook and Twitter is to use them to connect with your current patients and prospects.
 
Here are 3 ways to do it:
  1. Send an email asking patients and prospects to join you. Be sure to include a benefit of joining (free dental information, a giveaway etc).
  2. Send a follow up postcard with the same info/offer as the email
  3. When speaking with new prospects or patients ask them if they are on social media. Then, do a search for them and connect that way.
If you want to make a significant impact with your social media campaign, you need to put your resources into it. Direct mail and email are proven to increase the visibility of sites. In the over crowded World Wide Web It’s nearly impossible to gain traction online without outside promotion.
 
Plan Your Social Communication Strategy
Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, it’s time to get to work! It’s important to note here that while your ultimate goal for this campaign is to convert more patients, you need to be aware that prospects can sense if you are only out for their patronage and it won’t end well for you.
 
When engaging with patients and prospects via social media, try to always provide helpful advice and communication — this is the cornerstone of relationship building. Examples of this type of communication are: dental updates, news from the industry, testimonials, helpful resources, etc. Once they see that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re not trying to rip them off, they will be more likely to visit.
 
Occasionally, you can use your social media presence to advertise specials that you are running or limited time offers, etc. But make sure you don’t overdo it or you will come off salesy and disconnected. I would say once a month is an okay standard to live by.
 
Engage and Convert!
You need to have a plan. So many dental practices let social media become a “good intention.” They mean to do it, but they never seem to get around to it. Make your social media campaign a priority and it will be one — it’s entirely up to you.
 
When forming your content, use software like HootSuite or TweetDeck. These programs allow you to create posts and schedule them ahead of time. This is helpful because you want to be able to repost your content a couple times throughout out the day, since different people will log on at different times. A good benchmark is to post up to 20 times a week depending on how much good content you have.
 
Be sure to ask questions in order to elicit feedback. That way, when people reply, you can send them a personal message and engage in a conversation with them about their dental situation.
 
Here is an example of what your weekly social media checklist could look like:
       
Weekly Social Media Checklist:
  • Befriend 10 patients on Facebook
  • Post 5 Facebook status updates
  • Respond to 10 friends’ posts on Facebook
  • Post 10 Twitter status updates
  • Retweet 5 posts on Twitter
  • Respond to 5 posts on Twitter
Whatever strategy you decide on, make sure you stick to your plan. Keeping a consistent presence on social media sites is crucial to the success of your campaign.
 
Overall, it is important to remember that business always comes down to relationships — the dental industry as much as any other. Choosing a dentist is a big decision and people want to feel a level of comfort with their dentist. Used correctly, social media is a great way to build those relationships, both with patients and prospects. Not only that, but as you consistently display your presence on social media you are building a reputation for yourself among those patients and prospects that could lead to more referrals and more repeat patients.
 
So don’t worry about choosing between old and new media marketing strategies — you’ll get the best result by beating a path right in the middle of them. Bring in leads with postcards and build relationships on social media. Integration in your marketing yields the best results!
 
Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with a phone, computer and no capital investment. Since then, she has grown the company into one of the nation’s most effective direct mail marketing firms, specializing in postcard marketing for small to large-sized businesses. Over the years, she expanded to offer mailing list acquisition, website development, email marketing — all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice.
 
She has been named Tampa Bay CEO of the Year, Business Woman of the Year in Tampa Bay and has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business.” PostcardMania is an Inc. 500 and 5000 company and has won awards for creativity, best business practices and leadership.
 
Visit her website for more information about direct mail and dental marketing