Social media is one of the most engaging and pervasive
forms of online interaction today. On average,
Americans spend more than three hours per day using
social media.1 Even more important, the most valuable
demographic groups for your practice are the ones most
often frequenting popular social media destinations:
- 74 percent of women use social media sites
- 78 percent of users are between the ages of 30-49
- 72 percent are college educated
- 71 percent have annual household incomes in
excess of $75,0002
These are patients (prospective and existing) your
practice wants to reach.
This information is critical to your practice because
social media has become a primary information source
and decision influencer for ready-to-buy consumers. An overwhelming majority (80 percent) of social media
users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook.
More than 78 percent of consumers say that a company’s
social media posts impact their purchases, while 74 percent
rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions.2
The social media world has become increasingly
sophisticated and complex. The number of channels
and connection opportunities continues to increase. It is
extremely important to choose the social media channels
that offer the most benefit to your practice and
ensure your presence across those channels provides a
strong, integrated practice brand. Communicating an
effective, consistent brand requires professional writing
and messaging management. Your practice can ill afford
to ignore or give only cursory attention to social media.
There are four primary social media strategies that
will help your practice maximize the value of social media
to build a loyal patient community and establish stronger
referrals to drive new patient appointment requests.
1. Establish Your Presence on Popular
Social Media Channels
There are thousands of social media channels, and
new ones seem to crop up on a daily basis. However, a
small handful of social networks tend to dominate consumer
interest. Be sure your practice has a presence on
these popular and strategic channels:
Facebook – Facebook continues to be the most
popular social network by a country mile, with 1.2 billion
users and growing3 (second place Google+ has
about 540 million active users4). Additionally, 93 percent
of U.S. adult Internet users are on Facebook.
Facebook is appealing because it’s one of the most
business-friendly social media sites. Businesses can create
branded, customized Facebook pages and effectively drive
traffic to their pages using multiple inexpensive marketing
tactics. Your practice can leverage its Facebook channel to post a wide variety of multimedia content, educated visitors
and much more. More importantly, businesses are
documenting positive ROI from their Facebook presences
– 70 percent of business-to-consumer marketers have
acquired a customer through Facebook.5
Google+ – Google+ recently surpassed Twitter as the
second most popular social network, and shows no signs
of slowing (625,000 new users join Google+ every day!6).
In just two years, Google+ has evolved from a curiosity
to what should be an important part of every business’s
social media presence.
Google+ has several attractive features for businesses.
First, it allows you to create comprehensive, brandfocused
Google+ pages that provide ample information
about your practice. As the social hub of all things
Google, you can easily integrate videos from YouTube,
pictures, status updates and more. Plus, getting involved
on Google+ is great for SEO.
Twitter – Though it may have lost its #2 spot,
Twitter still boasts more than 500 million users. Like
Facebook, Twitter is business-friendly: 88 percent of
Twitter users follow brands, and 50 percent of companies
with Twitter presences have acquired a customer
Maintaining a Twitter presence need not be timeconsuming.
In just seconds, you can send out a tweet
that reaches thousands of potential patients.
YouTube – Despite being known as a video network,
YouTube is also the world’s second-largest search engine.
The site allows you to easily upload videos up to 15 minutes
long, which can be shared with your YouTube community,
posted on your Twitter and Facebook pages, and
embedded in your blog and website.
When you notice a patient who is pleased or excited
about their experience, ask if you can shoot a quick video
of them talking about it, and get their permission to
share it on your YouTube channel.
2. Maintain a Consistent Practice Brand
Most consumers divide their social media activities
among several networks. As powerful new mobile
devices enable current and prospective patients to access
their social channels from anywhere, it’s important for
your practice to have a consistent brand identity across
your social media profiles.
While the specifics vary by channel, a practice brand
identity for social media should include consistent:
- Practice logo
- Color scheme
- Contact information
- Practice description
- Doctor profiles (where applicable)
- Links to important pages on your website (such as
your Online Appointment Scheduling page)
With a consistent brand identity, your practice will
gain important synergies and be sure visitors experience a
consistent, professional-looking presence across all social
3. Engage Followers with Compelling Content
The more customers engage with a brand on social
media, the more they are likely to purchase and the more
loyal they become.8 The key to engaging your existing and
prospective patients on social media is simple: post interesting
and compelling content. Here are some tips for creating
- Commit to a frequent posting schedule – Most
users log on to social media several times a day.
Committing to a daily (if not more frequently) posting
schedule will help you maximize opportunities
to connect with patients.
- Adopt a consistent brand “personality”– Your social
media “personality” helps drive patient engagement,
and every post and tweet should be instilled with it.
While personality “traits” may vary based on your
practice’s brand, generally you want to present your
practice as helpful, trustworthy
- Post engaging content – The types of content that
has proved to be effective at generating engagement
on social media include:
- Contests or sweepstakes
- Big, visually interesting graphics, photos and
- Useful content such as dental-related trivia, tips
for better flossing, etc.
4. Consistently Interact with Followers
Social media creates an ongoing two-way communication
stream between you and your patients. By engaging
with social media followers the right way, your practice can strengthen existing patient relationships and
forge new ones. This involves more than occasionally
responding to a message; it requires a consistent responsiveness
Patients who post on your Facebook page or message
you on Twitter expect a timely response if one is required.
In fact, a recent study found that 50 percent of consumers
only give brands a week to respond to their questions on
social media before they stop doing business with them.9
If you delay responding to online patient feedback –
or don’t respond at all – you send a message about your
practice’s willingness to engage with patients.
Unaddressed or deleted comments from a patient will
negatively impact your online reputation. To avoid this,
make sure to monitor and respond to all patient feedback,
positive or negative, in a timely manner.
Social media is not only where your patients spend
their time online but often where they prefer to engage
and interact with your practice. Making sure your practice
is on the social media sites most frequented by your
patients is the first step. Just as important, ensuring all
your social media outlets maintain a consistent brand
that delivers fresh and compelling content will keep your
practice on their digital radar. Finally, making sure you
monitor and engage with patients that reach out to you
via social media will help you foster a loyal patient community
that refers friends and family to your practice.