There’s no question that a strong social media presence can help bring new patients into your dental practice, and strengthen your connection with existing ones. The challenge? For a lot of doctors, it’s knowing how and where to start. With social media trends and practices constantly changing, the idea of managing your social presence—or building one from scratch—can be more than a little intimidating.
But here’s the good news. You already have lots of experience with one of the main skills you need to succeed: talking to your patients.
When it comes down to it, dentistry is built on the relationship you have with your patients—and that starts with the friendly, one-on-one conversations you have every time somebody’s sitting in your dental chair. Think of social media as a way to keep those short conversations going, or to start some interesting new ones. Keep reading for five practical tips to get your social media going—and your dental practice growing.
1: Find the right social platforms
If your patients are like 9 out of 10 internet users, they’re spending a good chunk of time on social media: close to 2.5 hours a day on an average of 7.5 different platforms1. And while it’s tempting to want to be everywhere in the social cybersphere, quality is more important than quantity. Use the platforms that are the best fit for you and your patients.
Visit the platforms you think your patients are visiting, and see what kind of content’s there. If you’re not sure where to look, do a little social-sleuthing to find out where your competitors are. If they’re all on Instagram and Facebook and TikTok—and successfully engaging with their followers—you might want to be there too.
Pro tip: Don’t rush to make a decision or (even worse!) create an account for every social media platform that comes to mind. You probably won’t have time to manage four or five social media pages; and an infrequently updated page can actually make your practice look like it’s out of business. You can’t be everywhere, so choose wisely.
2: Choose a social media manager
It doesn’t have to be you, but make sure someone on your team is committed to owning your practice’s social presence. A successful social media program takes time to plan, create, and post. It’s important to have someone who’s always thinking about your social, and can share content on a consistent schedule. Regular posting helps keep your audience engaged and your practice top-of-mind.
Ideally, your social media manager would post on a daily basis—but at a minimum, aim for two or three times a week. Remember, the content doesn’t always have to be long. It can be as simple as recognizing a holiday, posting pictures of your staff, or sharing a relevant article. Be sure your social media manager “likes” comments that patients leave on your page, and responds to any questions or negative issues quickly.
Building out a social media content calendar will keep you on schedule and prevent last-minute scrambles to find content. It can be a big job—especially because what works on one platform may not work on another—so be realistic about how many social platforms you can actually support.
3: Stay relevant and authentic
The social media atmosphere is incredibly cluttered, and algorithms make it harder than ever for your content to capture your followers’ attention. Before posting anything, ask yourself if it’s adding value or just adding noise. Don’t treat your social media like advertising. Your patients don’t want to be blatantly “sold” anything. Take the focus off of you, and turn it back to them with content that will improve their lives, make them smile, or tell them something interesting about your practice they didn’t know.
Because today’s consumers (especially Millennials and Gen Z) are drawn to authenticity, content with a personal tone and touch is a good way to build a genuine connection. Make sure your social media reflects who you are. Weave your practice vision and values into your content. Most importantly, think of social media as a place to share stories with your patients. Storytelling content has a better chance of appearing in your followers’ newsfeeds. And it’s more likely to generate comments, because everyone loves a good story.
4: Take note of what’s trending
Are you seeing any fun, timely trends on social media? Great! Look for opportunities to tap into what everyone’s talking about online, and work it into your content. Get creative linking your practice to the topic-du-jour. Of course, you’ll want to be mindful of anything that could be controversial or offensive to your followers. Don’t just jump on a trending topic without considering your patients’ point of view first.
Not sure what’s hot at the moment? Search through trending hashtags and topics on different social platforms, and look for popular dental hashtags for inspiration (#dental, #dentist and #dentistry are three you’ll see frequently.) If you know what’s trending on social, you’ll have a better idea of what your patients are looking for on their social accounts. And you can make your practice part of the conversation!
5: Focus on patient engagement
It’s only natural to wonder if your social efforts are having any effect. One good measure of success is the engagement rate. Basically, it’s a metric that shows how actively involved your followers are with your content—if what you’re posting is resonating enough for them to respond in some way (shares, comments, saves, likes). A monthly check of your social channels will show you which content is getting the most engagement.
You can encourage engagement by adding polls or surveys, asking your patients for their thoughts on a dental topic, or even holding a contest. And any time patients comment or offer feedback on your social media channels, be sure to thank them!
Finally, don’t fret about your popularity by fixating on how many followers you have. Better to have 100 local, engaged followers than 10,000 inattentive followers randomly scattered across the social cybersphere. That’s especially true for a health-based business like dentistry which is built on strong relationships and personal referrals.
A few ideas to get you started
Keep in mind that what works well for another dental practice might not work for yours. As you develop your social media strategy, focus on staying true to your practice and your audience. Consider how you can put your own spin on these ideas:
- Highlight your team – Photos and stories about you and your team reveal the people and personalities behind the masks. (Tag your staff in practice photos, with their permission, to boost reach and engagement from their family and friends.)
- Answer the burning questions – Share answers to the most common questions you hear from your patients. You can also post links to articles on the same topics, or dental procedures your practice frequently performs.
- Flash some great smiles – Result photos are a wonderful way to show the quality of dental care you provide (but get the patient’s permission first before sharing!) Encourage patients to post the photos on their own social accounts, and tag your practice.
- Show what’s special – What makes your dental practice different or better? If you have a special treatment, a unique service, advanced dental equipment or technology, show it off and let everyone know.
- Go behind the scenes – There’s more to your practice than just the waiting room. Show off your dental chairs, delivery systems, sterilization process, treatment prep, and more so patients see how your dental practice works.
- Share video content – Consider shooting a video tour of your practice, a “day in the life” of your office, or an informal interview where you (or a staff member) talk about how you started in dentistry and why you love your work.
Remember, social media is multifaceted and ever-changing. It might take a little while to find the right style, voice, and channels for your practice—and that’s okay. Relax, have fun, and trust that you’ll hit your social media stride if you just stick with it.
In the meantime, we invite you to follow A-dec social media for more ideas, inspiration, and helpful information. See you there!
1Source: Kepios, 2022