It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of social media. And why shouldn’t we? Hubspot.com says that 85% of Internet users have a Facebook account and 49% have a Twitter account. It seems that if you’re going to get patients searching for a dentist online, you might just find them on social networks.
Still, many dentists are hesitant to jump in the social media pool, primarily because they don’t know where to start or how to do it the “right way.” It can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.
For dentists who want to get more patients online, social media is important for two reasons:
- Social media activity contributes to your search engine page ranks – For the purposes of online marketing, the most important thing that social media does is let Google know that your website is important. The more important or useful Google thinks your website is, the higher it will rank in a Google search. One of the ways Google’s ranking algorithm does this is by keeping an eye on your social media activity (including likes, shares, retweets and +1’s.)
- Patient connectivity – This is the “social” part of social media. By using Facebook or Twitter, you are given one more opportunity to connect with your patients. But perhaps more importantly, potential patients expect to see your practice on social media because it’s become so pervasive in every other aspect of their lives. In short, they trust it and are usually surprised if they don’t find you there.
It’s clear that social media is important for dentists who want to get more patients online. But, which networks are right for you? We suggest dental professionals focus on the “Big Three,” or Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Here’s why:
You’re probably not going to find many of your patients using Google+, unless they work in marketing. But of all three social media networks, it’s the most important for the success of your online marketing. Why? Maria Peagler of Copyblogger.com put it best when she said, “Google+ isn’t only a social network. It’s the very backbone (and future) of Google itself.”
It’s best not to think of Google+ as a social network, but rather, another important step in your SEO plan. The changes that Google consistently makes to its ranking algorithm (and what determines where your website ends up in page rank) can usually be traced back to two things; rewarding websites that provide fresh and quality information and placing more importance on your activity on Google+. To put it simply, if you want to have a high organic search engine page rank, you need to have a Google+ page, add people to your circles and post to it. When using your Google+ page, don’t be as concerned about connecting with patients, but rather, focus on optimizing your page for search engine results.
When people think of social media, they think of Facebook. It’s what most dentists ask us about…and they should! It’s the most widely used of all the networks and probably, where most of your patients will be, socially. But, Facebook can be tricky. Like Google+, it’s important to be listed and optimized on Facebook for SEO purposes, particularly for location. But, if you want to connect with your patients socially, you have to be a little more strategic.
People have been trained to think of Facebook as the place they go for social purposes only and many tend to avoid sales, coupons or business pages at all costs. Many dentists think they should create a page and upload photos and information about which procedures they perform. But the truth is patients aren’t interested in reading about that on Facebook. To get the “likes” and comments that you need to please Google, you should be uploading photos of your office birthday parties, anniversaries or your staff’s new babies. Believe it or not, we’ve found that those types of images tend to be the most popular posts on a dentist’s Facebook page.
Hubspot.com says that companies who use Twitter average 2x more leads per month than those that do not. That may be reason enough to use Twitter! The social signals that Twitter sends to Google and other search engines are a bit shakier than those from Facebook and Google+, but by creating and uploading content to a Twitter account, you are building brand authority and claiming more “real estate” on the first pages of a Google search. This is important for two reasons:
- Online Reputation Management – Controlling as much content as you can on the first few pages of Google is very important for online reputation management. We’ll put it this way…would you rather have potential patients read your tweets (with links to blog articles or other information) or potentially bad reviews from disgruntled patients or ex-employees?
- Build Social Proof – Social proof is important for your brand. Why? Because people need it to believe something is worthwhile of their time and for your potential patients, that means a prominent (and positive) online presence. By creating a profile and posting content to Twitter, dentists have control over one more online platform that supports their dental credibility and builds social proof among potential patients.
Google+, Facebook and Twitter are certainly not the only social networks that a dentist can choose to participate in. Instagram and Foursquare (among others) undoubtedly have value as well. But, if you’re thinking of putting your practice on any of the social media networks, we suggest you focus on “The Big Three.”
Bullseye Media now offers comprehensive social media programs for dental professionals. Contact us today to find out if it’s right for your practice.