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Social Media Management for Your Dental Practice

Who’s in charge?
Banner image of two people discussing social media

Who’s managing your social media presence? As practices launch or expand their social media marketing — whether on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, someone needs to be in charge and accountable. In some cases, practices may have multiple team members handling the responsibility or they may outsource.  

If you are managing or intend to manage social media internally, do you have a social media manager job description in place? Do you have an annual plan or calendar with ideas and dental topics you’d like to focus on? Some practices find knowing what message they want to convey to existing and potential patients helps them develop their plan and content.

“We found over the years that organic growth worked best when we as a team shared more personal pics at office, or in our community, said Dr. Jill Wade, of Stonebriar Smile Design in Frisco, Texas. “We get most likes and shares when we host specials and events compared to generic dental education. Followers do respond to our authentic voice on procedures. So, we assign each team member a unique post/blog and work it into our pre-planned yearly calendar

“I love and I’ve found our patients and community love it when we post candid, authentic content that highlights our team, said Dr. Christopher Kerns, of Primo Smiles in Cynthiana, Kentucky. “Our most engaging posts and the ones that connect us the most to our community are the ones that give them insight into who we are what our vision and culture is without outright saying it. We take quick genuine photos of our day-to-day that show us as fun, caring, knowledgeable, energetic, compassionate and professional, that’s what we want to convey.”

Some dentists think it’s important for them to be hands on and manage their social media. Dr. Larry Dougherty of Rolling Oaks Dental shares his experience:

“I've been managing my practice’s social media for almost seven years now,” said Dr. Larry Dougherty of Rolling Oaks Dental in San Antonio, Texas. “I post once a week, typically Friday morning, and it’s just part of my routine. I typically create my posts in Instagram and copy the content to Facebook and Twitter. If a Facebook post is doing well organically, I boost it to a target group around my area. Quality and consistency are key. Keep long term sustainability in mind when planning a strategy.

“My philosophy and game plan is constantly evolving,” Dr. Dougherty added. “Most of my inspiration for content creation ideas comes from other small businesses, not necessarily other dentists. As a matter of fact, I deliberately try to avoid what most other dentists are doing. So many dentists link to reviews, dental education, silly pictures of cartoon teeth or sales related content. Building a practice is about building relationships, so I like to think about social media content creation as the beginning of building a relationship.”

If you are delegating your social media management to an internal team member, Ginny Hegarty, a senior professional in human resources recommends establishing accountability for the social media marketing deliverables by setting crystal clear expectations. “Analytics may include engagement, acquisition and/or conversion metrics,” Ms. Hegarty said. “These key indicators might include page and post likes, comments, shares, number of blog subscribers, click-through rates, cost-per-click, new patient enrollment or patient retention.

“If you are not measuring, you are guessing,” Ms. Hegarty added. “The practice’s social media manager should create the format or utilize the tools available for the data analysis in collaboration with the practice manager, doctor and/or external social media consultant.”

In addition, you can access data about your social media growth and success via Facebook’s Business Page Insights. Facebook Insights has reports and graphs that represent how many people your content is reaching as well as whether your Page likes are growing, and most importantly, what type of content is resonating with patients — how many people are viewing, clicking, liking or commenting on your content.

If you and your team do not have the time, interest or skill set to manage social media, know there are many options to outsource or partner with seasoned professionals who understand the nuances of social media for dental professionals.(Keep in mind the dentist is still ultimately responsible for maintaining patients’ privacy and ensuring social media posts do not violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules).

I recommend you familiarize yourself with the examples and information above so you know what to look for in a social media manager or vendor — and what results are reasonable. Be sure to ask for examples of dental practice social media accounts the vendor is managing, content samples, and references to visualize your options and set expectations.

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 at RitaZamora.com.