Social media is much like any social situation that you may encounter. It just so happens that this one happens to be online. If you think in terms of what makes your patients like you, trust you, and want to talk about you, then you will have the right mix for your social media as well. If you want to make your social media efforts matter, here are some pointers to consider:
1. Be welcoming. When a patient first enters your practice, what do you (hopefully) do? You greet them warmly and welcome them. You smile, nod and recognize them. To take it even further, you create an environment where the patient feels comfortable. The reception area is filled with educational material, it is clean, and the atmosphere pleasant. You, too, can employ this on your Facebook page. First, make sure that if someone posts a spam message to your site, you take it down. Also, don’t allow any foul language, inappropriate political messages, or any content to be placed on your site that is moderately questionable. Second, if someone comments on your wall, recognize it. Answer their question or tell them thank you. Not responding is like passing a patient in the hallway and not smiling and saying hello.
2. Listen. Listening is the only way you can help people. Listen to the questions people ask in your office and answer them. Then take those questions to your social media world. Find ways to leverage what you are hearing in your practice and communicate them on social media. For instance, there were many questions revolving around sterilization when the Tulsa dentist was in the news. Savvy practices took to social media to talk about their sterilization techniques. They used videos, wrote blogs, posted invitations to come see the sterilization room, and showed pictures of sterilization techniques. Listen to what is important to your patients right now and use social media to discuss the topics.
3. Inform, inform, inform. People use social media as a way to become educated on different things that are important to them. If someone is following you, has liked your page, or connected to you in some way on social media, then they want to learn more. Keep them in the loop as to what is new in dentistry and use social media to communicate it.
4. Be witty, fun, but more importantly be you. One of the biggest advantages that social media affords dental practices is the ability to humanize the doctor and team – to build a stronger relationship. With the advent of social media, dentists have gone from being, “that guy who is about this tall, older, with dark hair. Office located on the corner of 2nd and Bryan Streets” to being, “Dr. Jane Doe who is wonderful. I’ve liked her Facebook page. You can find her by going to my page.” As you venture into the social media world, fun and humor will get you more leverage out of your posts. But being yourself and coming across as genuine will get you the best long-term leverage.
5. Keep it short and powerful. No one likes to read a novel during their social media time. Most people participate in social media in between activities, on a break, waiting for someone – so keep it short, simple and filled with a powerful message.
6. Use visuals. A picture is worth a thousand words. So when possible, post photos or illustrations to get your point across. You can also use popular memes as a way of communicating a message as well. Grumpy Cat, anyone?
7. Be positive. All of your posts/tweets/shares, etc., should be positive. Social media is not a place meant for businesses or practices to vent about products, companies, or even patients. Yes, I have seen it happen and it was not pretty. Use the power of social media for good. Remember what your mom used to tell you – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
8. Ask for what you want. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you want someone to like a post or a photo – ask for it. If you want someone to comment, retweet or share, ask them to do it. More importantly, if you want someone to call the practice and schedule an appointment for let’s say, whitening – then ask them to call. If you don’t ask, who’s to say that they will? The worst thing that can happen is that they don’t do it. Well – they aren’t doing it anyway, so there’s no risk in putting the information and opportunity out there.
9. Just do it. There is little to no risk at all to being in social media as long as you are polite and positive. The bigger risk is putting your head in the sand and pretending it isn’t happening or hoping that 1.11 billion people decide it is a waste of time and abandon it altogether. Since that is unlikely to happen, give it a try. What could it hurt? An even better question to ask … how could it help?