10 Tips for More Facebook "Likes" by Rachel Mele

Today’s digital world lends its way to an “always on” lifestyle, with social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more recently Google+ and Pinterest competing for attention in our personal lives, and enhancing the way businesses interact and communicate with their customers. Social networking for a dental practice is about fostering a community, and building a following with a degree of consistent engagement through a dialogue between practice and patient.

If you already have a Facebook page for your practice, you likely learned that the old adage “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t really apply here. The signal-to-noise ratio is simply too great to expect patients to stumble upon your page with no prompt or incentive to do so. So how can you reliably build your Facebook following and get more “likes?” Practices without a Facebook page should know, according to Google, 57 percent of people talk more online than they do in real life. Think back to the referrals you used to get when one mom asked another mom on a soccer field about her family’s dentist. Those same referral conversations still exist today, but are now more likely to happen online, through social networks like Facebook. It is not enough to simply set up a Facebook page and check a box on your long list of marketing todos. To effectively engage your practice’s community online, you must have something compelling to share online. Whether it is a community event you are participating in, a contest in your office or even a new and exciting treatment, you must keep the content flowing on your page to keep patients interested. Earlier this year, Dentaltown published an article of 52 weeks of Facebook post ideas to support you in building your content strategy for social media. Content, while critical to a successful Facebook marketing strategy, is just one piece of the puzzle. Consider the following best practices for Facebook business pages to drive up your Facebook likes and grow your practice’s online presence.

1. Set up a Facebook Vanity URL
The default Facebook Web address for your page includes a long randomly assigned string of letters and numbers. Once you’ve hit 25 likes on your Facebook page, you can set up a unique URL (Web address) for your Facebook page. Having a short URL will make it more memorable and much easier for your community to find your practice’s page. To see if you have a vanity URL, go to your Facebook page and look in the address bar. If your address is www.facebook.com/yourusername, you are all set. If it is not, go to www.facebook.com/username and follow the instructions on screen.

2. Link to Facebook in All Your Marketing Efforts
Social media icons are on nearly every marketing medium seen today. Ensure each page of your practice Web site has a link to Facebook. Add your Facebook vanity URL to all of your advertisements including your business cards, letterhead, TV ads, newspaper articles, radio placements, electronic communications and digital signage.

3. Add QR Codes to Your Practice Swag
If you give away swag (practice-branded items like postcards and flossers), be certain to include a QR (Quick Response Code) for marketing purposes. QR codes are barcodes readable by smartphones and can link to your Facebook page. Place these codes on your practice T-shirts, mugs, toothbrushes, bracelets, bags, magnets and lip balm.

4. Include a Link to Facebook in Your E-mail Communications
Patients prefer to receive their appointment reminders via email over phone by three to one (Sesame Communications, 2010). If your practice uses e-mail for appointment reminders, you have a great opportunity to promote your Facebook page to a captive audience. Whether you are sending appointment reminders, reactivation e-mails, no-show alerts or practice e-newsletters, be sure to include a link to your Facebook page. Utilize a patient communication system and send personalized e-mail to each of your patients with a specific message requesting they like the practice on Facebook.

5. Include Facebook Links Within E-mail and Forum Signatures
When sending e-mails to anyone, current patient, prospective patient, friend, family or even mom, be sure to include a signature line with a link to your Facebook page. This same practice works nicely on online forums as well. When replying to a thread, for example, on Dentaltown.com, include your Facebook URL in your signature. To update your signature on Dentaltown.com, go to “My Profile,” and click “Signature/Avatar” under “Public Profile.”

6. Donate to a Charity
For every like you get on Facebook donate $1 to a community charity. This will provide an opportunity to not only support a good cause, but also drive prospective patients to like you on Facebook. Be sure to promote your charitable giving through press releases, announcements in your office and through your Facebook page. Find a charity in your community with a big voice, one that is the most likely to help spread the word.

7. Create Signs in the Office
Design a simple page with a Facebook logo and Facebook QR code, and print and place it within picture frames. Place each frame in highly visible areas including the front desk, bathroom and beside each patient chair. Place a sticker on your window promoting your Facebook page. Web sites like Speedysigns.com sell these types of decals for a few dollars each.

8. Provide an iPad or an iPod Touch Chairside
One doctor grew his practice’s Facebook likes by a thousand in one month by having an iPad in the office for patients to play with. The practice explained they were able to drive such significant growth to their page by only allowing patients to use the device if they first liked the practice’s Facebook page.

9. Run a Contest on Facebook
Contests are a fantastic way to leverage the network effect of social media as your patients recruit their friends and family to vote or even enter your contest. Unfortunately contests aren’t quite as simple as one might hope. To be in compliance with Facebook, specific rules must be followed. Since a contest is required to run within the applications section on Facebook, it’s not an easy do-it-yourself project that can simply be posted to your timeline. Contests must include a release for Facebook from any liability and be in compliance with state and federal laws. The contest cannot require a consumer to like your Facebook page, a wall comment or a picture/video to be entered to win. There are services available to manage your practices’ contests, ensuring guidelines are met. Sesame Communications has a contest platform that includes robust reporting and captures entrant information, allowing you access to contact potential patients drawn to your page. For the most up-to-date Facebook guidelines, visit www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php.

10. Incentivize Your Team
Everyone likes a contest, especially if there is a prize involved. Set a goal in your office to increase the number of Facebook likes by a certain number in a month. Some practices will put a dollar per like in a pool for the entire team to split at the end of the month. Other practices will incentivize with a pizza party. Create a poster or sign and put it in a visible place in your office to track results, just as you would for a food drive. Setting a goal with a specific target and timeline will get everyone talking.

To download 10 additional ideas to get more Facebook likes, visit info.sesamecommunications.com/FacebookTips.
Author's Bio
Rachel Mele is the director of business development at Sesame Communications. As a member of the Sesame Speakers Bureau, she speaks and writes regularly on Internet technologies including search optimization, social media and effective Web marketing. Rachel’s data-rich presentations make the complexities of dentistry in the digital age easier to understand and manage. Rachel is an accomplished Toastmaster and the VP of public relations for her local club in Wallingford, Connecticut. Rachel can be reached at rachel@sesamecommunications.com.

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