Dental Practice Social Media – Management By Your Local Team Beats Outsourcing Every Time!
Why agency managed Facebook and Instagram likely won’t bring in new patients
A dental practice is typically a busy place and like most businesses, team members are expected to multi-task to ensure things get done to move the business forward. Effective management usually means that resources are quite stretched and when something new crops up, e.g. pushing forward with practice marketing, it can be tempting to outsource it, simply because everyone in the local team is occupied. But is this a valid strategy?
Whilst outsourcing would be perfectly sensible for some marketing initiatives, e.g. SEO for Google ranking which has a strong technical element; when it comes to growing the practice’s presence on social media, it certainly isn’t.
In today’s blog we’ll take a closer look at why the day-to-day business of building your dental brand using social media is by far best handled by your own team and not handled by a third-party agency working on your behalf. This is very important to understand if you want to make the best of social media for promoting your business.
Why use social media anyway?
I know a lot of dentists who openly state their dislike of social media and understandably so. Some “old school” practice owners don’t really “get it” but take it on board reluctantly as a necessary business tool. Others avoid it completely simply because they are so worried about picking up bad reviews and other adverse comments.
However, these days it is very important to realise that most people seeking out new products or services will frequently cross-reference a business’s social media channels as well as their website. They do this to look for comments about the business, reviews and also to gain a real-time sense of who they will be dealing with. This is often known as seeking “social proof” and it’s proven to be a key part of a person’s buying cycle. It makes sense that if there is no social proof available, then that buying cycle could easily be interrupted.
Given then that these days there is a clear need for an active social media presence, why not just outsource it?
The huge problem with agency led social media
If we consider the term “social media” it will help to understand where agency led management of your Facebook and Instagram will typically fail. It’s the word “social” which is the real giveaway and defines what this is all about i.e. interacting with users in a personal and engaging way. The bottom line is that if your activities on social channels such as Facebook and Instagram are not personalised and engaging, then by definition it isn’t going to work well – and this is where agency managed programmes always fall flat.
If you take a look at any dental practice where the social media is being outsourced, then invariably you will see a selection of very generic and often quite cheesy content; nothing which would inspire the average user to engage. Worse still, the same content is posted on behalf of many different dentists making it even more dreary and pointless. One of the key objectives of marketing is to make your business stand out from your competitors, so clearly that type of activity isn’t what you need. What’s more, you’ll be paying a lot for little or no added benefit.
I recently observed that one dental marketing agency has launched a social media tool designed to help dentists handle this particular marketing channel. However, on closer inspection it simply provides a set of pre-configured templates for the practice to use to assist their posting. Unfortunately anything which relies on pre-designed templates and is available to multiple practices is, by definition, unoriginal and still destined to fail. If you take a look at the Facebook and Instagram pages of dentists using these types of tools, you will see just how cheesy and generic they appear – it isn’t something you want to do in an environment where originality is increasingly important.
How does a dentist win on social media?
Here are some key pointers to help ensure your social media campaigns work as intended:
- Be consistent – post regularly
- Allocate appropriate resources
- Be original and try to post interesting content
- Don’t post dull material just for the sake of it
- Interact with your audience – encourage likes, comments and shares
- Ensure your content is in tune with initiatives elsewhere e.g. your blog posts, practice events and news etc
- Don’t spread yourself too thinly. If you only have the resources to handle Facebook, stick with Facebook. If you can handle Instagram as well, then do that too
- Be visual – users are drawn to interesting images so use these, and video clips, where you can
- Ensure you stay in line with GDC guidelines and comply with all confidentiality requirements
Social media advertising – when expert advice will be beneficial
All of the above covers the day-to-day management of your social media; it does not include the specific area of ‘social advertising’ i.e. configuring and displaying ads about your business to targeted audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Unlike day-to-day posting which is by far best handled by your team for the reasons already discussed, advertising is a different discipline requiring a specific set of technical skills and experience. Here you very likely will need a skilled marketer to help you.
Knowing how to construct and deploy successful social media advertising campaigns, including audience targeting and the use of highly-optimised landing pages, is not something to just dabble in. Doing that can lead to a lot of wasted money and time, so please seek professional help when you move to that next level of using social media to bring new patients to your practice.
“Done for you” social media management is a big “no” for dentists as it simply does not bring the level of personalisation and engagement needed to be successful. This is much better done in-house by the practice team. However, when it comes to advertising on social channels such as Facebook and Instagram, this is when the assistance of a professional marketer is highly recommended.
If you’d like to know more about using social media for dental practice promotion, please get in touch with the team at Dental Media for a no-obligation discussion on 01332 672548 to get you moving.