If you’re a dentist reading this article, I feel for your frustration. I know you didn’t go through years of dental school to learn how to do social media marketing, or any type of marketing, for that matter. Undoubtedly, your goal was to practice dentistry, and the choices you made were about questions like what type of dental work to focus on, and where to open your practice. I feel pretty confident in my expectation that you didn’t take business classes in college, much less any studies with a focus in marketing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you have little or no interest in social media. Lots of professionals I know avoid social media like the plague, as they don’t want their personal life to be exposed to their colleagues and clientele.
Nonetheless, you are in business, and the moment you opened the door to your practice, you became a small business owner. That comes with a host of responsibilities, including maintaining your office space, insurance coverages, payroll and more if you have employees, bookkeeping, and…yes, marketing. Your practice is a business, and no business can survive for very long without clients. Your clientele are your patients, and, whether you enjoy the process or not, you need to keep patients coming through your door if you want to keep your practice going.
Social Media Marketing?
Okay, so, we can agree that you need a marketing plan for your dental practice. But social media? If you’re not a denizen of the social media world, you probably think of it as a forum for teens to post selfies, and lots of pictures of cats, and people’s lunches. In fact, social media has become a much more diverse forum, with the majority of adult Americans involved in some some social network or other. Even those over 50 have been joining social networking in staggering numbers.
Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, actually provide an excellent opportunity for professionals to promote their practices and define their brand identities. Dental practices are no exception, and we here at Rhino have achieved great success on behalf of our dental clients.
Goals of Social Media Marketing
There are numerous ways in which you can use social media to further your marketing plan. Think of the world of social networks as your online marketing toolbox. By choosing the right tools, and using them optimally, you can indeed achieve your marketing goals. Some of these include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Hopefully you have a website by now, and you’ve got it set up to show your potential client base just what a great practice you have. But even the best website in the world won’t do you any good unless you get people to see it. That means that they need to find their way to your website, which is a little bit like finding a needle in a haystack. SEO is the art or science of making sure that people searching for a dentist, or for information on dentistry will see your website, high up in the ranking of search results.
- Online Reputation Management - An excellent use of social media, and almost an essential one at this point is online reputation management. Today’s consumers, including patients, love to post reviews of products they’ve bought and services they’ve received. They also have an increasing tendency to consult those reviews when they make a purchasing decision, and that includes choosing a dentist or another health care professional. When you establish your presence on social media, you can expect to start getting some feedback, some of which will be positive, while some may not be. It’s important to respond to any type of public feedback. Of course you’ll want to reinforce positive reviews. Even more important is to respond to negative reviews. Every business or practice gets some negative feedback. The way in which you respond to those complaints or objections will contribute a lot to the way in which people will view you and your practice.
- Establishing yourself as an authority in your field - A valuable use of social media is to put out information that will be of interest to your target audience. Most people in today’s hyper-connected world start their searches for any type of information, including healthcare questions, on the web, including social media. An ideal way to achieve more visibility to your client base, and establish yourself as an authority in your field, is to put out high-quality, well-written content that addresses the pain points of people who may need your services. You’ll probably want to set up a blog on your website for this purpose. Sharing your blog posts or linking to them from your social media accounts is an excellent way to get traffic to your website, and to make sure people see you as a respected expert in your field.
Should I outsource all of this?
I really hope I’m not throwing too many curveballs at you in this article. First it was marketing, then social media, and now...outsourcing? Really? I might share your surprise at this suggestion, were it not that, as I mentioned, we at Rhino have launched some very successful marketing campaigns for dental practices.
Actually, there is a long list of work that your practice needs in order to survive, that are worth considering outsourcing. In addition to marketing, this list could include bookkeeping, tax preparation, bill collection, and lab work. Like any small business owner, you’ll have to make a decision on each of these, as to whether it makes more sense to do the work yourself, or to outsource it to an outside provider who specializes in that type of work.
Honestly, when it comes to discussing social media marketing, we think the decision should be a no-brainer. The general rule of thumb about outsourcing is to delegate work that’s outside of your actual service offerings to a third party, freeing up your time and resources to focus more on your core activities. Marketing is way outside of the scope of what you set up your practice to do. So why not leave the work to experts whose business it is to market practices just like yours? Give the marketing pros at Rhino a call to set up a consultation to learn what we can do to increase your patient list, so you can keep your energies focused on what you do best - dentistry.