The Truth About Social Media For Dentists
As the major social media platforms continue to evolve, we have witnessed shifts that took popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram from essentially free ways to communicate with consumers (patients), to highly sophisticated money making machines. Aggressive social media marketing early on led to massive followers, engagement, and community networking. Those who joined Facebook as a business in 2010 with a sound strategy might have felt like being one of the first gold miners in the California gold rush! Though in 2022 there is still plenty of gold to find in social media marketing, it is much harder to dig up.
We used to hear dentists talk about Facebook and social media like it was the solution to all their new patient flow problems. More recently there has been a quiet realization that social media is not the phonebook replacement so many had hoped. We want to help you understand what current social media is good for, and perhaps more importantly, what it is not good for.
An important note: Before we go any further, let’s clarify with a basic understanding of the difference between organic and paid social media. Organic social media refers to the content and exposure you get from free posts, while paid social media refers to content that businesses pay for to get seen, like ads or “boosted” posts. Paid social media has many nuances and can be quite complex. For the purpose of this article, we will focus exclusively on organic social media.
Social Media – What it is Not:
One of the challenges with social media marketing is that online social networking sites were built to facilitate conversations and connections between family and friends. When we try to insert business messages into the middle of a consumer’s news feed we become intruders. Poorly planned messages are bad for the reputation of the business and the social media platform itself.
Early adopters of social media could frequently post meaningless stock content and watch their following grow. These benefits are no longer available. A business cannot create posts and expect them to be seen for free by all their followers anymore. Social media is also no longer a place where you can casually post anything and expect it to work in your favor. Instead, you need to be very intentional about what you’re posting because complex algorithms will penalize accounts that they view as consistently producing low quality content. You read that right, if you post lackluster content you will lose access to your own followers!
Social Media – What it is:
We like to consider social media as an extension of our physical office. It’s a place for us to build an impression and reputation in the minds of our patients and prospective patients. Utilize your page to offer a behind-the-scenes glance of your team and company culture. Share birthdays, holiday vacations, or 5-star patient reviews – whatever makes your team come alive! This exposure gives an authentic perspective and will set your practice apart from those that lack spirit and engagement. A clean, professional, and active social media presence will send a message to your patients about the type of care they can expect to receive at your practice.
We are often questioned by dentists who want to take an all-or-nothing approach. Who wouldn’t want to “go viral,” garnering your practice millions of views and perhaps even mentions on national morning talk shows? Planning for this type of outcome requires a lot of time, tenacity, and mountains of charisma. That is why we have never recommended any dental practice make an effort that could get them those kinds of results. It’s a huge gamble and most likely won’t pay off. For the few that do break through, I’d encourage you to consider the value of viral exposure, when 90% of your patients likely live within 15 miles of your office.
Instead, we recommend a slow and steady approach. Think of social media for dentistry similarly to how you would deal with car maintenance. You don’t need to stop to put gas in your car every day, but you also shouldn’t ignore the gas gauge and end up stuck on the side of the road. If you’re proud of your car, you’ll want to make an effort to keep it clean and tidy. Your social media strategy should be the same. Fill up your social media tank by posting high quality content on a weekly basis. “High quality content” is anything that engages your followers. This could be as simple as:
- An employee birthday, anniversary, or in-office baby shower
- A team outing or group continuing education course
- A gift from a favorite patient, sales rep, or local specialist
- A beautiful before and after from a patient who received excellent care
What Platform(s) Should I Focus On?
Despite the recent exponential growth of apps like TikTok, Facebook remains the market dominating social media platform with 2.91 billion monthly active users. We encourage practices to start there, and once you have a healthy and manageable strategy, you can grow to some other common platforms like Instagram.
When considering expanding, don’t forget to evaluate YouTube as a contender. Though it isn’t traditionally considered a social media platform, YouTube has 2.29 billion monthly active users and can be a powerful tool for getting your practice positive online exposure.
What is the Truth About Social Media?
Social media may not be the get-rich-quick gold mine it once was, but it still holds an important place in any dental marketing strategy. Try to think of social media as a way for you to make a positive first impression and keep your practice top-of-mind with current patients. If you maintain a conservative and consistent online presence, you are laying the groundwork for a cohesive and positive patient experience, from the first click online to their final check out.
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