Getting started with social media marketing

Where to begin with social media for your dental practice

facebook and twitter iconsThis article is aimed at providing a concise introduction to social media marketing for dentists – why it’s worth doing, how to get set up and, importantly, what to avoid.

Social media for dentists – is it worth it?

The short answer to this is “yes”, but if you do start, then it needs to be done professionally and consistently. The benefits of social media are covered in detail elsewhere in this blog, but to recap, it can bring new patient enquiries, help to spread your brand and influence in the local community, act as a broad-reaching platform for advertising and help with your search engine optimisation. So you should make every effort to incorporate social media into your marketing strategies if possible.

“Done for you” social media marketing – best avoided?

A number of dental marketing companies offer to run your social media as a fully-outsourced service, but is this really worthwhile? The short answer here is probably “no”. If you take a look at the output of these services you’ll see fairly generic material being regurgitated to multiple different accounts, often processed automatically. To be frank, none of this type of material is in the least engaging and typically won’t stimulate any useful enquiries. At best, it keeps you social media accounts active but not much else. Remember that one of the core principles of social media is personal interaction – and you don’t get much of that if your posts are generic and automated. So think twice before subscribing to such services.

Setting up your social accounts

Again we’ve covered the mechanics of this elsewhere in our blog and this is your first step on the way to getting your social campaigns moving. Most practices tend to use Facebook, Twitter and also professional profiles for key team members on LinkedIn. If time allows, you can also publish to the likes of Instagram and Pinterest, however, don’t spread yourself too thinly. It’s much better to manage a couple of profiles well than several done badly.

Setting up is usually quite easy but you can always ask your web designer for help. One key thing to remember is consistency of information and brand – so keep your colour scheme, logos, web, ‘phone and postal addresses completely consistent across all of the profiles.

Resourcing

You also need to consider how to resource the management of your social media activities to ensure quality and consistency. It’s usually better to have a couple of people involved to ensure that holidays are covered, although some of the posting and scheduling tools which are available, e.g. Hootsuite, will let you schedule content in advance. Another key thing to realise is that you don’t actually need huge amounts of time to manage a couple of profiles, perhaps 30 minutes per day to collate and post suitable information.

You also need to allocate resource to monitor responses and requests you receive via your social profiles. It goes without saying that this needs to be done swiftly and professionally. Also keep in mind the GDC guidelines – so whoever is posting on behalf of the practice needs to be trained and trusted. They will also need to know how to respond or who to turn to should a complaint arise!

Plan your content

To help maintain consistency, it’s very useful to create a basic content plan which shows which channels you will post to, at what time and with what type of content. This will help you to introduce variety into your posts as well as help with loading up scheduling tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite. Whilst interesting, unique content always works best, there’s no shame in curating suitable content from around the web, reworking and including that in your content plan – if you found a handy bit of information, chances are your followers will find it useful too, so don’t be afraid to get it back out there via your own profiles.

Increase your following

This is probably the trickiest one and worthy of a complete post of its own. Followers don’t just happen and you need to work hard to get them. Firstly, don’t neglect to use the tools available within the social channels which allow you to invite others to follow you. With Twitter, follow others within your same interest group and hope they follow you back. Other channels will require a lot of posting, pinning, responding etc but you will eventually gain momentum if you are consistent. You can also try paid advertising to get yourself noticed in-front of targeted audiences. Some of this may well need specialist help from your experienced digital marketer but you’d likely be surprised at how easy most of it is to do yourself. Oh, and of course, make sure links to your social accounts are added everywhere and that you encourage people to use them.

Measure your success

Like any marketing initiative, you need to keep any eye on progress and adjust anything which needs attention. Look at high level metrics such as the number of followers by channel, level of engagement etc but also make sure that your campaigns are linked back through Google Analytics to see which activities are actually resulting in new patient enquiries.

Summary

Social media marketing for dentists is often treated with suspicion but done well, can yield many benefits. Be sure to resource the activity appropriately and maintain consistency, whilst avoiding the temptation to try to outsource everything to a generic service which typically won’t deliver results.

If you’d like to know more about how social media can be used to bring more patients to your practice and to support your SEO campaign, please call the Dental Media team on 01332 672548.