The State of Social Media in Dentistry 2014/2015



Are you wondering what’s happening in social media today? What’s working and what’s not? What are we seeing? According to Pew Internet Project’s research, 74% of online adults use social networking sites (up 7% from last year). For those of you still hoping social media would just go away, current research supports its ongoing, and growing, popularity.

Over the years, I’ve had the benefit of working with literally thousands of dentists and teams – both through our client services and numerous speaking engagements. Below is a summary of the most relevant, and current, observations I’ve made to date:

Facebook

1. More and more patients are interacting with practices on Facebook. Whether they are posting comments or asking questions, patients are more active and engaged than they were a few years ago.

2. The most popular posts – those that generate the most likes and comments – continue to be photos of the doctor and/or team.

3 Word of mouth (talking with patients) continues to generate excellent results, the results being page likes, comments, testimonials and check-ins. Facebook ads and sponsored posts can also inexpensively increase visibility, likes and comments.

4. A risk for many practices continues to be misuse of time management (this can easily be corrected with training and systems).

5. Most practices are letting valuable opportunities to network with other businesses and organizations in their communities slip away.

6. Some practices continue to misuse Facebook personal profiles for business use – for example, friending patients and using a “friend” account to interact with patients. This is a potential legal and ethical slippery slope from a doctor/patient relationship perspective. And using a personal profile to represent a business is against Facebook guidelines.

7. Some practices are creatively holding contests or generating campaigns using Facebook to support nonprofits, individuals or organizations in their communities for visibility, relationship-building and to generate good will.

8. Facebook ads are being utilized by more practices than in years prior; however, they continue to be underutilized overall.

Twitter

1. Many dental practices on Twitter are still not using Twitter effectively or efficiently.

2. Often the doctor’s name is being used; however, the doctor is not personally managing the Twitter account. In social media transparency is key, so state the name of the real person who is tweeting in your account bio. For example, tweets by Melissa, patient care coordinator.

3. Many Twitter accounts are filled with advertising messages or are auto-linked from Facebook pages. Overuse of automation makes it clear to potential followers that there is no human interaction coming from the account.

4. Few practices are using Twitter to listen, interact and work toward growing relationships within their community (kudos to the few that are, such as this practice).

Google Plus

Many practices are on board with Google Plus Business Pages; however, many also have no idea how to access their page or use it. If you are not on board yet, please read here.

If you are on board, but don’t know how to access your Google Plus Page, speak with your SEO provider or webmaster about access, or contact us about training or hourly assistance.

I also highly recommend you check out Google Business View for your practice. Think of this as Google street view for your practice – a no-brainer to provide new patients a preview of what they can expect, and another Google product to put in your marketing toolbox!

Instagram

Some photo-loving practices have added Instagram to their suite of social media tools. Using hashtags can help your practice be discovered. For more tips, check out Dr. Larry Dougherty’s advice in the Progressive Dentist magazine or follow his practice at Instagram.com/RollingOaksDental.

Online Reviews

Reviews are more important than ever. According to Nielsen’s latest Trust in Advertising report, 68% of consumers indicated they trust consumer opinions posted online – up 7% from 2007.

My random sample polls of dental practice team members indicate the following:

30% of practices ask patients for reviews consistently.

30% of practices ask patients for reviews on occasion.

40% of practices don’t ask patients for reviews.

The most effective methods we’ve seen to motivate or collect reviews are via in-person conversations with patients, personalized emails and patient engagement systems such as those offered by RevenueWell.

Overall Social Media Management

While many practices have dropped their third-party “total management” social marketing services, there are still many practices paying monthly support fees that don’t fully understand what they should expect. Please read: 5 Things You Should Expect From Your Social Media Marketing Provider.

Many doctors and teams are embracing the opportunity to manage their social media marketing internally. This is evidenced by one of our most popular blog posts of the year: Dental Practice Social Media Manager – Sample Job Description.

Please reach out if you have a question or another point you’d like me to address. A growing number of practices are investing in training or taking necessary steps to become informed and empowered. Are you maximizing the potential of social media for your practice? If you are struggling, or simply looking to take things to the next level, we can help. Contact me for a conversation today.

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