This week, guest blogger Naomi Cooper, President of Minoa Marketing and Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute, continues her two-part blog on her take on social media. Two weeks ago, you may remember, Naomi wrote about some key upgrades, updates, new features and new networks in the world of social media. We continue this week with Part II of her take on social media.
5) Twitter – Reaching into the Universe of Potential Patients
On Facebook, your posts aren’t searchable or indexed, so it’s unlikely that anyone beyond two degrees of separation will ever find out about your practice unless they’re specifically looking for you. What’s unique about Twitter is that every single tweet is public and searchable unless it was specifically marked private. That means that your posts are able to be found by anyone who happens to be searching for any of the keywords you mention. This is an incredible way to build a loyal base of followers regardless of whether they actually know you or not. And because about half of Americans don’t have a dentist, if they’re in your local area, your Twitter followers certainly have the potential to eventually become patients in the practice – when they’re ready.
6) Pinterest – The Dentist’s Dream Target Market: Moms
Pinterest is the current darling in the world of social media. Not only did it grow to 18.7M users in March 2012 from its launch in March 2010, it’s a known hub for the dental practice’s ultimate target demographic: Moms. Pinterest is the kind of site that may initially seem redundant, but its truly viral nature is only part of the story; the real secret sauce is that Pinterest is a social network that really speaks to its target audience. Moms love “pinning” stories, photos and articles to their Pinterest “boards”, and Facebook has even started emulating Pinterest by adding the ability to “pin” important content to the top of a page. For dentists who have a true general or family practice, and especially for pediatric dentists and orthodontists, Pinterest is the latest new addition to the practice’s social media arsenal.
7) Instagram – Showcase Your Practice
Instagram is a free photo-sharing app available for download on iPhones and Android phones. It allows users to take a photo with their mobile phones and then choose a filter to transform the image, and immediately post it to multiple social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. It was launched in October 2010, and by April 2012 had grown to over 30 million users. Most notably, Facebook bought Instagram that month for approximately $1 billion.
The full effects of Facebook’s purchase remain to be seen, but what this should mean to you is that Instagram is another social media tool you can use to promote your practice. Sharing photos of the doctors and staff around the office, showing before/after photos, and showcasing happy patients are fun, and strategic, ways of keeping your practice on the tops of your patients’ minds. Note: Consult with your business attorney regarding required releases before posting photos online of staff and patients.
At the end of the day, social media is the ultimate patient-practice connector. Imagine being able to broadcast every patient’s positive sentiments about the practice to his or her entire social circle! What’s more, social media has become a big part of every search engine’s decision-making algorithm, so a practice’s level of social media engagement will play an increasingly larger role in its rank or score for a particular keyword or searchable phrase. And perhaps, most importantly, social media helps dentists and dental teams establish and maintain meaningful, ongoing connections with existing patients and prospective new patients!
Once a practice makes a conscious decision to participate in social media, the most important next step is to devise an integrated and targeted approach. This process begins with goal-setting and the identification of key objectives and outcomes so they can be woven into a social media strategy. Certainly not every dentist’s website needs to feature a Facebook icon, Twitter link, YouTube channel and Pinterest pin, but practices should find some way to participate in social media in order to ensure that Likes, Pins, Retweets and online reviews are driving traffic – and positive word of mouth – to the practice.
Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing and Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. In this capacity, she 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. A respected industry opinion leader, consultant, author and speaker, Naomi is presenting “The Complete Dental Marketing Plan”, a how-to marketing & social media continuing education seminar, in conjunction with Pride Institute, across the country throughout 2012. For information about Naomi’s seminars and marketing consulting services, call Pride Institute at 800-925-2600 or visit www.prideinstitute.com. Naomi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/minoamarketing.