This week, Naomi Cooper, President of Minoa Marketing and Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute, wrote a guest blog about social media. A respected industry opinion leader, consultant, author and speaker, Naomi works one-on-one with dentists and specialists who are looking to assess their current social media and marketing plans to develop a cohesive marketing approach.
Social Media – it just might be the biggest buzzword to hit dentistry in decades. And while an ever increasing number of dentists have become familiar with utilizing social media in their personal lives, the applications for social media for small businesses continue to evolve. As a result, the practical reality of how to incorporate this new communications platform into a dental practice’s marketing plan can be elusive — even for the most marketing-savvy dentists.
For the Summer of 2012, there are some key upgrades, updates, new features and new networks in the world of social media; read on for recent news on everything from the latest and greatest tips on Facebook’s most recent changes to the low down on Pinterest, the new social network that’s become most popular for moms.
1) Facebook – Utilize the New Business Pages
Facebook recently launched revamped Business Pages. This update incorporates the chronological Timeline layout, which was phased in for personal profiles at the end of 2011 and into early 2012. Timeline rolled out for businesses as of April 1st, 2012, with the new Business Pages eliminating the need for custom features like tabs and landing pages. While this may seem like a frustrating setback for those who had already built custom Facebook Business Pages using the old template, the reality is that Facebook has done every dental practice a huge favor with this new, simpler design. Dentists no longer have to hire a designer to replicate the look and feel of their website on their Facebook page – a simple upload of a cover and profile photo goes most of the way toward customizing the look of a new Business Page. Other updates include the ability to add past events, or milestones, to your practice’s Timeline and the ability to edit posts after the fact.
2) YouTube – Dial in Your Channel
YouTube is now the Internet’s second largest search engine. More than 60 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube every minute and over four billion videos are viewed a day! And did you know that YouTube spent over $200M in 2011 just to fund original content creation for the web? YouTubers around the country are even getting paid to create custom video content for online delivery just so YouTube can start to compete with television for those valuable eyeballs and impressions. How does a dentist get in the game? The likelihood of YouTube paying anyone in the dental industry to create compelling content for the dental professional is low, but dentists around the globe are finding that including several one- to two-minute videos on the practice’s website and YouTube “channel” can be an effective part of an overall search engine optimization strategy. The videos on the practice website play into Google’s algorithmic preference for fresh, relevant content (Google finds video highly relevant), and the videos posted directly on YouTube drive YouTube search traffic to the practice website as well.
3) Google+ Business Pages – Stay in Google’s Good Graces
Google+ continues to grow into 2012, albeit at a much slower pace than when it first launched June 28, 2011, when it reached a record 10M users in two weeks. While there are 170M registered users on Google+, in February 2012, Mashable.com that reported that Google+ users spend only 3.3 minutes monthly on Google+ compared to Facebook users, who spend an average of 7.5 hours on Facebook each month. However, because of its Google affiliation, Google+ is still a great tool for developing inbound links. Building out a practice’s Google+ Business Page (the Google+ equivalent of a Facebook Business Page) offers many opportunities to feature videos, share photos and images and create direct inbound links, all of which are incredible drivers of search engine optimization. From dentists who are social media mavens down to the novice, it’s a no-brainer to add this social media profile if it helps patients to easily find you and connect with the practice online. After all, Google is synonymous with online search, and one of the easiest ways to make sure that Google’s algorithms continue to work in your favor is to play in their sandbox – aka Google+.
4) Google+ Local – Get Your Practice on the Map
Not to be confused with Google+, your Google+ Local page is your practice location’s listing and reviews page within Google+ Local. Up until June 1st, 2012, Google’s local directory listing system was called Google Places. Now Google Places is called Google+ Local – and your Google+ Local listing page, which is controlled mostly by Google, should not be confused with your Google+ Business Page, which is yours to build out as you see fit.
It used to be that when someone recommended their dentist to a friend, they wrote his or her name and number down on a Post-It. Today, they’ll just blurt out the name and suggest that you Google the practice to find out more. To help consumer with this type of research, Google has attempted to create a Google+ Local profile for every business in the country, regardless of whether they have a Google+ Business Page, but it’s up to the business owner to claim that Google+ Local profile and make sure it’s accurate.
The Google+ Local profile provides the same opportunities for inbound links, images and video as Google+ Business Page, and Google+ Local profiles are indexed by Google’s search engine as well. Google+ Local, like Google Places before it, also features patient reviews, which can have a huge impact on the stickiness of your existing stream of word of mouth referrals.
An important note: Google+ Local officially transitioned its reviews to a 30-point Zagat-branded ratings system in June as well, so be sure to check out your profile – and your reviews – to see how they look in this new format.
Stay tuned for Part II of Naomi’s blog, coming on Thurs., Aug. 2!