Social media is changing all the time. Although not every change is relevant for dental practices, there are some major updates that can have an impact on your practice — for better or worse. Ensure your practice is staying at the forefront of social media by making these updates.
Facebook groups now have the option to allow Facebook Business Pages to join their groups. This is an excellent opportunity for dental practices to network and build relationships with people and businesses in their neighborhoods.
It's not uncommon for someone in a neighborhood group to post a question asking neighbors to weigh in. For example, "Which local dentist do you recommend?" Depending on the city or neighborhood group size, questions can get dozens or hundreds of responses.
Imagine if your practice were active in your neighborhood group on Facebook. You could comment on the post directly from your practice's Facebook page and invite the prospective patient to visit your practice and meet you and your team members. Your practice page could also like and thank all of the patients who were complimenting and recommending you. You might even take your efforts offline and send those patients who mentioned you a small coffee shop gift card or thank-you note for the kind recommendation in the group. (Remember, make sure gifts are nominal in value and comply with federal guidelines.)
If you aren't in your neighborhood groups yet, log in to Facebook and start searching for opportunities. Enter your neighborhood's ZIP code or name or ask some of your patients who are active on Facebook if they know of any neighborhood groups.
If you are not aware of Facebook's engagement bait rules, you'll want to become familiar with them. Many businesses are not up to date with these guidelines and can get their account's visibility reduced or even get locked out of their accounts. Unfortunately, "Facebook jail" is not a rumor. Even large organizations like Wired Magazine have been punished by having their visibility greatly reduced, as shared by a Wired Magazine social media community manager during a recent presentation at the Denver Digital Summit.
Facebook defines engagement bait as using tactics that encourage people to interact with your content to unnaturally boost visibility.
This is the reason you should not post statements like these:
- Tag three friends!
- Like our page to be entered to win!
- Share this for additional entries!
Be sure you or your social media manager are aware of the risks and how you can avoid a Facebook hand slap or worse.
With all the filters and tools available, there is no reason to get stuck using unattractive images — including blurry, grainy, generic or outdated images or graphics — to represent your practice. If you are creating your own graphics, you can check out tools like Canva or Pic-Monkey to add polish to your photos. If you are using any stock photos (and I hope you are instead using real-life pics whenever possible), be sure to use high-quality, copyright-free images. A great free option for copyright-free and free of cost images is Pixabay.
Images and graphics represent your profession, expertise and brand, so make sure they represent you well. In the future, trends are moving more toward authenticity — one more consideration to add to the mix. This means it's more important than ever to keep your name and face consistently in social media feeds, beyond just profile and cover photos.
Another method of attractiveness you can leverage is positivity. There is enough negativity on social media, so why not set your practice apart by spreading smiles and good vibes. The future is bright, and the numbers support it — we see higher levels of engagement, shares, likes and comments with positive, uplifting messaging.
Instagram: hashtags and geotags
I hope your practice is on Instagram. If not, you should set up an account ASAP. Instagram has been the fastest-growing social media network in the past year. According to Pew Research Center, 35% of adults who are online used Instagram in 2018. That statistic is sure to rise when updated statistics are released, considering the skyrocketing increase in Instagram's popularity.
Once you are set up on Instagram, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to be discovered by using relevant location hashtags. You can use up to 30 hashtags in Instagram posts. Although you'd never want to load that many hashtags on a Facebook post, they are expected on Instagram.
Instagram users will often check out their local hashtags, and that gives you a perfect opportunity to be discovered. If someone is looking at which posts show up for #Denver, your Denver practice will be included in any #Denver results if you include the hashtag in your post. Don't forget to do your homework and add any other relevant local hashtags. In the case of Denver, for example, you might also use:
You can also include a geotag for your practice. Tagging your practice essentially creates a link on a map to your exact practice location. Research by SproutSocial.com showed that posts tagged with a location see 79% higher engagement than posts not tagged with a location. You can also include location tags with stickers in Instagram Stories.
Plan, plan, plan
With all the new social media options, users can become overwhelmed. Save time and make your social media marketing more effective by implementing systems and processes, such as planning next month's content on a calendar. Some practices may do this on Facebook or using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite. Planning a monthly strategy is a proven method that will save you time and get you better results.
When planning your monthly content, we recommend an 80/20 content mix — 80% social-related content and 20% dental-related content. Be sure to focus your dental-related content on the type of dentistry you want to grow in your practice. If you want to attract dental implant, sleep dentistry or clear aligner patients, for instance, you should post about these topics. Planning a strategy in advance will help you achieve your social media goals.
Ms. Zamora and her team provide customized social media marketing services for general dentists and specialists. Since 2008, they've worked with hundreds of dental professionals worldwide to train them in authentic and valuable online interactions. Learn more about her services and her book, Get Found, Get Liked, Get Patients: Making the Most of Social Media, at RitaZamora.com.