Dental practices and social media may not seem like an obvious paring at first. Your childhood dentist almost certainly didn’t have a Facebook Page, and you still may not be able to find your local Endodontist on Twitter. For many in scientific or medical fields, social media may seem silly and superficial. However, these lighthearted platforms are where most of your patients spend a large amount of their time – and you might be surprised about things you think you know about social media that are in reality not correct at all!
Persistent myths abound when it comes to social media, discouraging professionals from dipping their toes in the pool and thus depriving them of a valuable resource. Let’s take a look at four of these myths – which, when examined more closely, should be seen as reasons your practice should be on social media, instead of deterrents from participating.
Myth 1: Serious Professionals Don’t Use Twitter and Facebook
Facebook and Twitter are where a large segment of the American public “hang outs” – but that doesn’t mean professionals should steer clear; in fact, unless your target demographic is not “the public”, it’s exactly where you need to be. Many in medical or scientific fields think of social media as an unprofessional place to hang out, and opt instead for the more business oriented atmosphere of LinkedIn instead. This is often unproductive; LinkedIn is more focused on job networking, and unless you plan to only treat other dentists in your practice, you should be spreading your net wider.
Sure, Facebook may have started as a misogynistic joke between college fraternity brothers. However, today it’s a sought after platform by 80% of the Fortune 500. Twitter has the same level of reach among top companies, with 83% holding accounts, and 8 of the top 10 can be seen to Tweet almost daily. Is your practice bigger or more professional than General Motors, JetBlue, or Nike? No? Then you can feel secure in following their lead.
Myth 2: No-One does Important Research on Social Sites
Hang out on any social media platform, and you’ll see plenty of cat videos and images of restaurant meals. However, it’s also a place where people routinely seek the advice of their peers on more serious matters – whether it’s which crib to purchase for their newborn or what dentist offers conscious sedation for cleanings.
People don’t shun social when it comes to serious matters – in fact, the National Research Corporation recently published results from a survey in which over a third of respondents said they have sought health advice from peers on social media. A hefty 45% look for health information on social sites as opposed to scholarly medical sites. Finally, a staggering sixty percent said they rate their experiences with providers on social platforms.
This means social media could be the perfect place to position your dental practice as the purveyor of all things good when it comes to information. You have a sterling opportunity to reach out to those seeking information, and provide solutions!
Myth 3: Social is an All or Nothing Affair
Many dentists hesitate when looking at social media because they’ve been told they need to “blanket” the web with their presence. When faced with the admittedly daunting task of creating and getting accounts up to speed on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, YouTube, and Instagram, who can blame a practice for being a little commitment-phobic?
Ignore the marketers who say that you have to have a finger in every pie. All that will garner you is a bunch of half-baked profiles. Instead, pick one platform – usually Facebook or Instagram (especially if you’re an Orthodontist or Pediatric Dentist) – and master that platform before trying others. Start by thinking: “What platform do most of my patients use?’ ‘This may be different than the one you personally prefer for recipes and crafts (Pinterest), but it’s probably the one you should start with. If your dental practice can learn how to effectively leverage a single social network, adding a second (or third) will come naturally and have a higher chance of success as well.
Myth 4: You Have to Budget Extra for Social
Social media is too expensive, say many practice leaders, adding that directing more money into marketing just isn’t possible. However, there’s a big difference between social and traditional advertising when it comes to staying power – while a TV or radio spot is gone as quickly as the check is written, most everything you build on social supports the next move.
If you don’t have extra dollars to add to your ad budget, consider redirecting a small portion of funds and create a plan to aggressively track ROI and measure results. Half of social media comes down to planning and analysis, just like any other type of marketing campaign.
You won’t be alone if you start budgeting for social. Social media has exploded on the digital marketing spend front in the past five years, and is expected to expand by 126% over the next five. This alone should go a long way towards convincing you to find the money and time required to drive some form of social marketing.
Don’t let myths keep you away from social media. Used properly, social can be a powerful tool to provide potential patients with accurate information, reassurance, and confidence – and your practice will reap the rewards!