About 15 years ago, just 5 percent of U.S. adults used social media, according to the Pew Research Center, but by 2018, that number climbed to 69 percent. To put that into perspective, the Census Bureau estimates the U.S. adult population in July 2018 was about 252.3 million people, meaning about 174.7 million U.S. adults are on social media.
Successful dental marketing requires meeting your patients where they are, making social media for dentists a must. But as you might have already found, merely creating social profiles for your dental practice won’t bring you much success. There are additional steps you must take in order to grab attention and get the most out of your dental social media efforts.
Read on for five ideas to take your dental social profiles to the next level so you can succeed with social media marketing.
Social media for dentists: ideas for success
1. Create a professional and cohesive brand experience
A “brand” is what you want patients to think of when they hear your dental practice’s name. Branding a practice is important because it helps distinguish it from local competitors, it gives personality to the practice, and it helps patients remember the practice. It’s important to reinforce your brand as often as possible — including on social media — because people must be exposed to a brand several times before they remember it.
So, how do you show off your brand on your dental social media profiles? Here are a few ideas.
Use the same profile and cover photos and the same biography on all social media sites.
Create and use branded hashtags
Create your own graphics
If there is an opportunity to create graphics that use your brand colors and font, do so. On Instagram, for example, you can edit the cover photo of your story highlights.
Emphasize your brand colors
Influencers are particularly good at emphasizing their brand colors. For an example of this, check out steffy on Instagram, who incorporates her primary brand color — orange — in every photo.
Check out: 5 doctors killing it on social media
2. Share original content
According to PM360, 90 percent of healthcare and dental professionals are social media consumers, but only 1 percent are content producers. This means your dental practice has a real opportunity to stand out by creating and sharing your own content.
A few content ideas to consider include:
If you’ve recently published new research, consider sharing snippets of that information on social media. According to Sprout Social, 33 percent of people say they are likely to engage with content that teaches them something, so share your findings in an easy-to-understand way.
Publish blog posts on your website and then share links to those blog posts on your social media profiles. Blog posts can answer questions that patients frequently ask, they can discuss your treatments and services, or they can talk about timely topics.
Photos and videos
Showcase your staff and your office space in photos and videos. Also consider showing off your patients, with their written permission.
If you are quoted in a media article, share that, too. Even though the article is not original to you, your quote is. Plus, you can add more context to the article in the post itself.
3. Engage where appropriate
Only 9 percent of healthcare or dental professionals engage with others on social media by commenting on posts and participating in group discussions or online chats, according to PM360. Using social media as a communication tool — rather than just a broadcasting tool — can help you extend your online reach, better serve patients, and manage your reputation.
Extend your online reach
When you engage on social media, you further extend your online reach and create greater brand awareness. A few ways to engage to extend your reach include following relevant profiles, commenting on other people’s original content, and mentioning or tagging other profiles when you share their content.
Better serve patients
According to Sprout Social, social media is the top choice for customer service for most people, yet brands reply to just 11 percent of people. And when they do respond, they’re often very slow, taking 10 hours on average. All of this means that simply answering peoples’ questions or otherwise assisting them on social media can help take your dental social media to the next level.
Manage your reputation
A positive, widespread reputation is essential to attract new dental patients, so you need to engage where appropriate. For example, it’s appropriate to thank people who share your content or who write positive feedback about your dental practice. It’s also appropriate to reply to negative feedback.
In both cases, you should reply promptly and professionally. Also, never admit fault and do not reveal any protected health information, in accordance with HIPAA.
4. Share live or limited-time content
Content that is only available at a specific time or for a specific amount of time creates a sense of urgency. FOMO — or Fear Of Missing Out — is a real thing: People don’t want to miss whatever it is that you’re sharing because they don’t want to feel like the only person who didn’t take part.
There are a few different types of limited-time and live content that you can try as part of your social media marketing plan:
Facebook and Instagram Stories
Stories are photos or videos that disappear after 24 hours. According to Instagram, more than 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day, and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses.
Facebook Live videos are broadcasted live and viewers can engage with them by reacting or commenting in real time. Facebook Live videos publish to your profile after the broadcast ends. Dentists will commonly live stream procedures, such as teeth cleanings or whitenings.
A Twitter chat is a public conversation around one topic — perhaps brushing best practices — and unique hashtag. Hosts will announce the chat on social media — and any other mediums they feel are appropriate — letting people know when the chat is and what the hashtag is. They prepare some questions related to the topic they’ve chosen, and then at the predetermined time, they tweet the first question. People interested in participating will join in.
5. Use sponsored content
Sponsored content is an ad that looks like organic content. It appears in the news feed, and users can react or comment just like they can with organic content.
Sponsored content is becoming necessary for dental social media success because organic content does not have the reach it once had. In fact, a social@Ogilvy study found that organic reach began to dip below 2 percent for some Facebook pages as early as 2014.
With sponsored content, you can reach people who do not follow your dental practice. Similar to other types of advertising, you can target specific audiences with similar interests, by location, and even build look-alike audiences using a patient list. This increases the likelihood that your content will be seen by prospective patients.
Sponsored content also helps spread brand awareness, so patients who are not yet ready to visit your dental practice now are more likely to recall it when they do need care. An analysis by Facebook found that ads that were seen at least once per week increased potential brand lift in ad recall by 80 percent.
Interested in more ideas to succeed with social media marketing? Consider studying other professionals and practices that have found success. See the blog post “The 10 best doctor accounts on Instagram” to get started.