It has been an era of transformation in marketing. Many businesses that have managed to not only survive, but thrive, can point to heightened social media investment as at least part of the reason for their success. This includes dental practices!
The trend of heavy investment in social media can be expected to continue.1
- 91% of executives plan to increase their company’s social media marketing budget during the next three years, and most plan for the increase to exceed 50%.
- 85% of executives say that a primary source of business intelligence for their company moving forward definitely will be social data.
- 78% of consumers are more willing to buy from a brand if they have had a positive social media experience with the brand, and 77% will choose the brand over a competitor.
This probably does not come as a surprise. Perhaps you’ve already been spending time and money on social media, but you’re failing to see a return on investment (ROI) for your practice. Before giving up and assuming social media doesn’t work, you might want to review your approach. There are many reasons why social media might not be clearly benefitting your practice, and this can be remedied once you identify the reasons.
It’s an extremely common mistake to think an action is a strategy. Strategy is a cohesive plan, a journey made up of connected actions that move you along a path toward success. Posting to Facebook and Instagram is not a social strategy, but rather just a series of independent actions. Your team may be frustrated when you tell them to “post something” on social.
In order to develop your social strategy, you have to figure out what you want to accomplish. Then you can put together a roadmap of how to get from where your practice is now to where you want it to be and figure out when and how to use social media to drive that forward momentum.
In order to create an effective strategy, you need defined goals. These goals should be strongly aligned with your practice’s business objectives. Don’t confuse strategic moves (increase practice Page Likes) with actual goals (book 10 new-patient appointments each month).2 Your practice is a business, and it should have a business plan. Go through your plan and identify which goals can be pursued and supported using social strategies. Then work on building out social media campaigns designed to push you closer to achieving those goals.
Start by identifying your two main goals with social media. For many practices, this is increased existing patient engagement and increased word-of-mouth. For others, it is reputation management and new-patient acquisition. Different goals mean different plans and budgets.
Lack of focus
Far too many practices find themselves floundering with social media because they try to do everything at once. The result is that nothing gets done well because resources are spread too thin, and no single platform gets the attention, focus, and budget required for success. Remember, marketing currency comes in two forms—time and money. Many people pursue social media thinking it is “free,” only to discover it is an incredibly expensive time investment because they are trying to be everywhere.
Pick one platform to start (Facebook is usually the best bet for general dental practices), and focus your time, energy, and marketing spend on developing a strong strategy that supports your practice goals. Then you can branch out and add Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and more. By giving one platform your very best effort, you can generate real results and establish a core audience. What you learn on one platform can be leveraged on other platforms as you experiment with new formats.
Advertising on Facebook (or any social platform) and not defining your audience is throwing away your marketing dollars. Facebook Insights can be invaluable as you define and refine your target audience, and it can also help you find ways to tap into the audience’s existing interests.
You can isolate and explore the following aspects:3
- Demographics: If you want to target potential patients or family members of potential patients, it can be useful to find audiences based on age, gender, and lifestyle.
- Location: The average suburban dentist establishes a core patient pool that lives within a five-mile radius. If you practice in a rural area, or are a well-known specialist offering services people are willing to travel for, you can widen your location to reach a larger audience.
- Page Likes: Knowing what other interests your target demographic has can help you uncover opportunities for partnerships. If you notice strong support for a local animal shelter or children’s sports team, consider becoming a sponsor or holding a joint event.
What kind of content are you posting? Content should serve two purposes: create a feeling of connection with your audience and invite them to join your conversation. It’s also crucial to pay attention to what your chosen platform’s algorithm rewards you when you have more visibility, and leverage that for greater reach.
Across platforms, visual content consistently outperforms other types. Overall, you want to share content that recognizes people, not just their teeth, as a main focal point of your practice. Facebook’s timeline page design shines a spotlight on visual content such as images and videos. Facebook posts with images receive nearly two-and-a-half times more engagement than posts without images. One study of multiple types of Facebook posts revealed that those with photos saw the most engagement over any other type of post, accounting for 87% of total interactions.4
Make sure your content is visual, including a photo or short video; interactive, encouraging viewers to engage; and goal-oriented, with a call to action (CTA) to prompt a specific response. Don’t discount the value of user-generated content (UGC), especially photos and reviews. Online reviews can help new patients find your dental practice and drive brand recognition and trust.5
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local places of business.
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews on a par with word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Nearly seven out of 10 people will write a review if asked to.
Make asking for reviews automatic in your practice flow and make it easy and immediate for patients to comply. Likewise, always get explicit permission to share photos taken in your office. Encourage patients to share their own photos to your practice Page, and have clear policies posted that protect both your rights and theirs when it comes to UGC. The goal is to build relationships based on trust, both when your patients are in the chair and out of it.
Finally, recognize that your employees can be some of your greatest social media assets. In fact, 45% of consumers are more likely to research a product or service when a company’s employees post about them. By encouraging your employees to participate in your social endeavors and training them to participate appropriately and correctly, you can make your entire team work together to enhance outreach and improve patient experiences.6
Lack of a sales funnel
Many practices new to social media are operating under the assumption that posts, followers, and Likes automatically and directly generate production. However, social media is a lead attraction and nurturing space. Almost all patient acquisition will require a digital sales funnel with many more steps than simply posting on Facebook.
Your digital sales funnel needs to be nurturing prospective patients through the stages of awareness, information gathering, decision making, and action, providing everything they need to feel good about picking up the phone to call your office or filling out a form to request an appointment. This is not a push-button process.
Failure to test, track, adjust
If you aren’t completing regular test, track, adjust (TTA) processes for your entire practice marketing plan, you could be losing thousands of marketing dollars to overspending and ineffective tactics. A strong social media strategy includes conducting A/B testing for every campaign, tracking results based on each variant (audience, time of day or day of the week, visuals, text, CTAs), and adjusting your approach to maximize ROI. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on opportunities to stretch your marketing dollars further and generate even more appointments. Always seek to improve, from your social ad campaigns to your email open rates to the time visitors spend on your practice website.
Take a moment to look at your social media plan. If you create a strategy, narrow your focus, identify your goals and audience, create and curate great content, and nurture your leads through a sales funnel supported by campaigns that are constantly tested, tracked, and adjusted, success with social media can be yours in 2021.
KRISTIE BOLTZ is the founder and CEO of myDentalCMO, a marketing consulting firm that helps dentists make smarter marketing decisions and trains dental teams to execute on those decisions. As a result of her head for numbers and passion for teaching, people often say their practice marketing dollar has never been more effective. Schedule a chat with Kristie at mydentalcmo.com or call (877) 746-4410.
1. The future of social media: new data for 2021 and beyond. Sprout Social. April 5, 2021, accessed April 7, 2021. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/data/harris-insights-report/
2. How to create a social media strategy in 8 easy steps. Hootsuite. May 27, 2020, accessed April 7, 2021. https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-create-a-social-media-marketing-plan/
3. How to use Facebook audience insights to reach the perfect audience. ManyChat. January 14, 2021, accessed April 7, 2021. https://manychat.com/blog/facebook-audience-insights/
4. How to use Facebook for business: 25 Facebook marketing tips and tricks.Hubspot. March 17, 2021, accessed April 7, 2021. https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/24422/the-ultimate-facebook-marketing-cheat-sheet.aspx
5. Smart social media for dentists In 2021. MySocialPractice. January 20, 2021, accessed April 7, 2021. https://mysocialpractice.com/2021/01/social-media-for-dentists-in-2021/
6. titled Social media trends you need to know in 2021. ConvinceAndConvert. December 7, 2020, accessed April 7, 2021. https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-trends-2021/