We previously posted some ways dental social media can benefit practices. In our social media marketing post, we mentioned that Facebook is the most popular social platform and, in our professional opinion, the best choice for promoting your practice socially. We included a list of ideas for content you could share on Facebook, but we think the topic deserves a post of its own. And here it is!
Let’s start with a few more reasons WHY to use Facebook for your dental practice.
First, Facebook could give you a competitive edge over neighboring practices.
Say that you and a nearby competitor are both in-network for a hypothetical patient’s dental insurance, you’re both conveniently located for him or her, and you present similar information on your practice websites. Your competitor has 11 positive Facebook reviews, but your practice’s page has 111 patient reviews, mostly 5-star. Your competitor’s Facebook page is pretty stagnant, with only a handful of posts from the past year. In comparison, your Facebook page has a history of weekly dental social media posts about your team, the office’s amenities and technologies, local news, and your practice’s involvement in the community. After spending a minute checking out your competitor’s Facebook page, the patient spends 5-10 minutes scrolling your page and reading other patients’ reviews. Which practice will be more appealing to this patient? We believe it’ll be the practice with a solid presence on Facebook.
People want a dental care provider they feel comfortable with and confident in. In the above scenario, Facebook achieved both of these feelings for the patient in question (a Facebooker). Your practice’s activity on Facebook made it feel more familiar, personable, and appealing. The readily available and up-to-date information about your office and team, especially all the glowing patient reviews, inspired more confidence in the patient than the competitor, whose online reputation wasn’t as up-to-date or as robust.
Second, word-of-mouth referrals can be just as powerful when they’re “word-of-social-media” or “word-of-Facebook-friend” referrals, and possibly even easier to get as people’s social media usage increases.
Let’s say that your dental practice is gearing up for your annual Halloween costume pictures and candy buy back event. You post your candy drive flyer to your Facebook page, and multiple parents in your Facebook patient community share it with their own social networks. A handful of their friends plan to participate to unload their families’ excess candy after trick-or-treating. Then, the week of Halloween, your team takes pictures with patients, young and old, who came to their appointments dressed up. With permission, of course, you post those pictures to your practice’s Facebook page. Some of those patients (or moms of patients) share your posts to their personal pages, and the other moms in their networks think it’s neat to see a dental practice make appointments so fun for kids. So fun, in fact, that they’re interested in taking their kids there. Will new patients be lining up outside your office doors after your Halloween posts? Probably not (although wouldn’t that be thrilling!), but you may get 3-5 new patients who were relatively inexpensive to attract and who will have a higher level of loyalty than the average new patient due to their social connection with other patients.
When your Facebook posts have content that your patient community and their social networks are interested in, your dental social media posts are more likely to be engaged with (liked or otherwise reacted to) and more likely to be shared. More shares mean more opportunities for referrals. In addition, your active presence on Facebook will make it easier for people to refer you when someone in their neighborhood’s Facebook group posts, “Hi, I’m new to the neighborhood and looking for recommendations for a dentist.”
Third, Facebook gives you a chance to be personable even when you’re not “in person” with your patients.
Sure you treat teeth, but those teeth are inside the mouths of people (duh!). And with people, things are personal. After a patient has left your office having had a great customer service experience, you can continue fostering that personal connection with a thank-you text message or email. They most likely don’t want to receive a text from your practice every week, but they probably won’t mind and, depending on the content, might even enjoy seeing weekly Facebook posts from you. Success here is achieved through quality content. It’s okay to sell your dental services occasionally, but not every post. Aim for content that engages your patients (they like it, comment on it, or share it), that provides value (dental health tips or relevant community info), and that shares the values of your practice (team unity, compassion towards patients, community involvement, care for the environment, and so on).
Speaking of engaging with your patients, if you already have a Facebook page, go back through and make sure that you’ve liked every comment made by patients and friends. Respond to people’s comments and show appreciation that they paid attention to your page and posts. Make your practice’s Facebook presence a conversation, not merely one-way communication on either side.
Now, HOW to achieve this engaging content we’re talking about… Here are some ideas for quality Facebook posts:
- Share a team photo, professionally taken or candid, with a “Get to Know Our Team” post. Consider spotlighting specific team members the week of their birthdays, or just any time!
- Have a “Patient of the Month” post. Patients could be chosen at random or by specific criteria, and they could receive something special as part of the honor, such as a free t-shirt or a gift card.
- Tell parts of your practice story, and commemorate milestones. Patients often appreciate hearing what you like about being a dentist or why you wanted your practice to be a certain way. Give them a chance to congratulate your team when you reach your 5-, 10-, or 15-year anniversary.
- Appropriately celebrate holidays and special occasions in your practice. These often provide excellent photo opportunities (with your patients or with your staff) and make Facebook-worthy posts.
- Get involved in your community. Whether you’re participating in charity events, supporting the local school’s sports teams or performance groups, or spreading relevant local news, these posts will likely be among the most popular on your Facebook page.
- Pay attention to what else is trending on Facebook. Notice lots of people in your own social network posting videos of the ice bucket challenge or mannequin challenge? This may be a good time to jump on the bandwagon to increase your own social presence.
- Express gratitude to your patient community as you advertise special offers to them. The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up and will provide a perfect opportunity for this.
- Get creative with promotions. You can encourage friendly competition amongst your patients with prizes to be won. Incentivize likes and/or check-ins on Facebook.
- Feature life events of your team members and your patients, when appropriate. One of your dental assistants just graduated from college? Post a congratulatory picture and message! One of your patients got her braces off before getting married? With her permission, create a post to honor the bride!
- Have a treat day. Maybe once a month you get treats from a local vendor and all patients that day get to enjoy them. If you post about the other local business on your Facebook page, they’re likely to be willing to do the same for your practice. Win-win!
Contact us for more ideas about engaging content for your practice’s Facebook page and dental social media marketing! Once you have a steady stream of quality content being posted, ask your team to help spread the word by sharing some of the practice posts on their personal Facebook pages. Consider having a bulletin board in your lobby dedicated to your Facebook and other community efforts. You want the same brand and feeling that you project on your Facebook page to be readily felt inside your office, too.
WHAT ELSE? Tracking. If you’re going to invest some of your practice’s resources (time and/or money) in Facebook marketing, you’ll likely be interested in tracking successes.
Not everything in the social realm can be measured, but there are some key metrics that can and should be specifically tracked. These include likes and other reactions, video views, shares of posts, comments, average daily organic reach, average daily organic impressions, and clicks. You can also get data about the referral traffic from Facebook to your practice website. Make sure your Facebook settings are arranged so that every time there is activity on your page, you get a notification so you can respond promptly 100% of the time. By “you,” we mean whoever is the designated Facebook person for your practice. This is commonly an enthusiastic, personable staff member.
Outside of Facebook and website metrics that can be tracked, we hope you’ll see a gradual improvement in patient retention, referrals, and overall new-patient flow as you build up the quality and effectiveness of your dental social media marketing on Facebook. Boosting your online presence through Facebook posting and thereby increasing traffic to your practice website will also boost your site’s SEO, adding general value to your internet dental marketing.