Sesame Insider Insights
By Naomi Cooper (minoamarketing.com) – President, Minoa Marketing & Chief Marketing Consultant, Pride Institute
Since Facebook’s inception less than a decade ago, the social media powerhouse’s utility for small businesses in general and dental practices in particular has evolved dramatically. These days it’s not enough for the practice to simply have a business page; the goal is to truly engage online with patients in order to reach as many existing – and potential – patients as possible.
There are numerous ways for dentists to stay connected with patients on Facebook. The site itself is always changing, improving and rolling out new features – and it can be overwhelming to try to keep up. Here are a few fresh ideas to help keep your dental practice’s Facebook page on the top of your patients’ news feeds.
The Importance of Likes & Check-Ins
Every dentist knows the importance of getting more likes on Facebook. And because of Facebook’s new Graph Search, which enables people to search Facebook’s database for information that lives there only, your patients’ interactions, such as likes and check-ins, have actually become more important than the posts published by your practice.
What many dental practices don’t know is the importance of another type of patient interaction on Facebook: check-ins. When a Facebook user wants to share information about their current location, they can “check in” to a dental practice, restaurant, or almost any public place or private business. When patients do so, the update appears in their News Feeds, along with the corresponding locations, for all of their Facebook friends to see.
Check-ins are exceedingly important in terms of increasing the visibility of the practice’s Facebook page. Here’s why: when a user likes something on Facebook, while it may be shared with the user’s friends in their news feed, it does not project the same level of personal commitment that a check-in indicates. When someone actually interacts with your business via social media while they are physically in the practice, it demonstrates how connected they feel to your practice.
And the power of the check-in is exponentially greater when your patient posts a photo (and tags themselves in it) when checking in at the practice. While dentists are not able to post photos of patients without a release form, patients can post photos of themselves and/or tag themselves in a photo at your practice. According to Kissmetrics, photos receive 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text-only posts.
The Power of Visual Content
There’s a reason why sites such as YouTube and Instagram have become two of the top social media sites today – visual content. And again – internet users respond more to photos and videos than any other type of content.
In late August 2013, Facebook introduced a new feature: shared photo albums, which allow multiple users to upload their own photos to the same album. While shared photo albums are not yet available for Facebook pages, the recent release of this feature further illustrates the growing trend toward visual content.
A few simple ways to increase your Facebook presence using visual content include:
1) Running a seasonal photo contest e.g. for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day
2) Using photos to take a poll – e.g. “Which do you like better?”
3) Posting photos of team members and/or patients (with the proper release forms in place) e.g. patient/employee of the month, a special thank you or acknowledgement for an achievement or milestone
4) Encouraging patients to check in and post photos of themselves when in the practice
Staying on top of the latest social media trends can be exhausting –but it doesn’t need to be. Utilizing tools such as likes, check-ins and photos in a fun and strategic way to maximize your practice’s Facebook presence can be a simple, low-cost way of keeping engaged with your patients online.