There are a lot of steps to take to get your dental practice into the digital age. The competitiveness of the dental industry has never been more apparent than now, when people have usurped the advertising industry by inviting dentists into the spaces where they spend the majority of their online time.
The famous internet saying “Content is King” still applies – to all kinds of content from the quality of your practice’s website copy to the engagement factor of your blog and social media posts. When you take your dental practice into the oft intimidating world of digital marketing, precise missions and goals can be difficult to define. Which social platforms should you use? How often should you blog? What exactly is the point?
The main stumbling block for practices when getting started with social media is figuring out what the end result should be. There is a difference between performing an action, and seeing the action produce a positive result!
Publication is the action. Having the published content create a visit to your website or the conversion of a visitor into a patient is the desired result. With social media, there may be in intermediary step – a viewer liking, commenting on or sharing the content. Of these three possibilities, a share would be the most attractive result; putting your content in front of yet another group of people exponentially expands your audience and potential patient pool.
How do you get people to react favorably to your content and interact appropriately with it? There are six secrets to creating great content that promotes sharing.
- Relevance. Many dentists make the mistake of posting on social media as if they were speaking to a group of colleagues. Fellow experts your field may be intensely interested in the technology behind the latest bit of equipment you have acquired, but the average patient is more concerned with how the machine will impact their next visit – will it make it faster? Less invasive? More comfortable?
- Audience Specific. All dental patients are not the same. A parent looking for a pediatric dentist for her nervous child has a different set of concerns and questions than a senior seeking dental implants. Tailor your approach to speak to the benefits of your practice’s specialtie(s) to your target demographic.
- Multimedia. Every study shows that while the posts that have the most impacts may switch from images to text only to link posts and back again as platforms like Facebook change their algorithms, a mix is always best overall. Surprisingly, the simplest options are often the best – an emoticon, for example, can sharply boost engagement and even a bland call to action can yield surprising results compared with posts that neglect to add one at all.
- Cross-posting. Don’t get married to one platform, but don’t try to do every single one right away. Start with the basics – Facebook / Google+ / Twitter – and learn how to adapt content that works well on one platform to appeal to the viewers on another. Track trending hashtags on Twitter, learn to create image collages on Facebook, turn to G+ for polling options, and stay connected to what is working and what isn’t from platform to platform.
- Gamification. This isn’t as sneaky as it sounds. Gamificatioin is simply turning some of your social media posts into fun, interactive experiences. Post a funny image of yourself and ask for a caption. Create a collage and request feedback on which color you should paint your new reception area. Play “who is the most popular” in a group practice and have patients vote on their favorite dentist or hygienist.
- Repurpose content. That caption request can turn into a gold mine for future posts. From the initial post, as people deliver their witty comments on your funny expression, pick four of the best and create a collage for voting on. Meme 1 against Meme 2; Meme 3 against Meme 4; winners against each other for a sudden death match. The final meme can be customized with your practice logo and promoted. The wealth of user generated material resulting from one silly image can be spun out over the course of weeks.
Without high quality, interactive content, the only way to keep your practice visible on Facebook to more than a fraction of your followers is to “Pay to Play”. This can rapidly become expensive, and isn’t as effective as organic shares on Facebook. Creating “shareable” content, on the other hand, inspires viewers to share your practice’s Page out of sincere interest – making social media into the digital version of “word of mouth”.