The key to success is popularity; at least it was for Dale Carnegie. His 1936 book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a timeless guide about how to get people to like you, how to win people to your way of thinking and how to be a leader without being offensive. In it, he gives suggestions like, “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain” and “Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.” Pretty smart guy, that Dale Carnegie.
So what can he teach a dentist looking to supplement their online marketing efforts with social media? Actually, quite a lot. The wisdom in Dale Carnegie’s book, despite being written during the Great Depression, is a nearly perfect “how-to” guide for a dental practice’s social media efforts. Why? Just like in sales, the key to social media success is popularity. It’s no secret that the more followers, fans and +1s your profile receives, the more marketing benefits you reap. Also, if you read any social media “how-to” guide for businesses, most offer the same advice as Carnegie did, except with a modern approach. For example:
- “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain…” – ie: Never engage in volatile online discussions, criticize your competitors or complain about your staff, patients or family in your social media profiles.
- “Talk in terms of other people’s interest…” – ie: Post content that your followers or fans would be interested in, not what you think they should see from you.
Although he was wise beyond his time, one thing that Carnegie didn’t account for was how easily a valuable patient can click the un-follow or un-like button on social media; much quicker than the face-to-face interaction he was discussing. With one touch of a mouse or tap of the finger, the social media connection with your patients can be cut-off.
Social media gives you a ready-made platform to connect with your patients and can boost your website’s search engine rankings through signals it sends to the search engines. But crafting the right social media plan for your practice can be a delicate process. How much should you share? What should you share? How do you remain professional but still engaging? We want to help dentists keep as many loyal fans and followers as possible, and that includes making sure you know what not to do. We’ve compiled some sure-fire ways to lose your patients as Twitter followers and alienate your Facebook Fans. In other words, here is what you shouldn’t do on your social media profiles:
How to Lose Twitter Followers
Use Cross–pollenating Language – Nothing screams “I have no idea what I’m doing” like using cross-pollenating language on your social media profiles. Technology guru Amber Mac says to avoid the following:
- Using the @ symbol in Facebook posts – The @ symbol is used in Twitter to denote a user handle and has no significance in Facebook. For example: @DallasDentist or @DrJohnSmith
- Asking for “Likes” on Twitter – The “like” button is used on Facebook to signify when a user supports or likes a group, product or business. Once they “like” something, they will see your posts and updates in their newsfeed. If you ask for a “like” on Twitter, it will either be apparent that you automate all of your Facebook posts directly to Twitter or don’t understand community norms.
- Using Hashtags (#) on Facebook – Hashtags are a phenomenon that started as a way for Twitter users to organize content, specifically around big events or news happenings. For example, if you wanted to read tweets about The Olympics, you would search #Olympics and it would pull them all into your Twitter timeline. However, hashtags have now become a more acceptable way for people to add “side commentary” about anything they post across all social media profiles. We advise you engage in hashtags on Facebook sporadically and only if it is particularly witty or timely. Here is an example of how a patient might use hashtags on Facebook:
- Just got a cavity filled and feeling great! #didnthurtatall #lovemydentist
- Splurged on teeth whitening! #prettysmile #feelingconfident
TIP: Social media etiquette is constantly changing and it’s easy to fall behind. Before you engage your practice, be sure to consult with an online marketing company who is well versed in the latest trends in social media.
Engaging in “Bad Reputation” Conversation – Volatile conversations can quickly escalate in social media platforms; partly because it’s easy for someone to hide behind their computer screen and still say what’s on their mind. If someone tweets a negative comment about you on Twitter, don’t engage on your public timeline. Ask them to discuss it in a direct message (or DM if you want to sound particularly social media savvy.)
Tweeting too Much of a Bad Thing – There is no faster way to get people to click the “un-follow” button than tweeting too much low-quality content. If your Twitter followers are seeing nothing but a fire hose of re-tweets (RTs) from the American Dental Association or links to clinical blog articles you like, they’ll run. And by run, we mean un-follow. We’ve found that tweeting once per day is sufficient for a dental practice.
How to Alienate Facebook Fans
Being TOO Serious or Salesy – One of the reasons why dentists have a hard time engaging in Facebook for their practice is because they don’t know what to share or when to share it. Let us be the first to say that if your patients only get a stream of clinical articles or hard sells about why they should choose you for dental implants, you may as well not engage in Facebook. It’s a recipe for social media disaster. We recommend dentists use a mix of 80% social or entertainment content and 20% clinical/promotional and post only once per day. To read more about what makes up a great practice Facebook page, read our previous blog post.
Not Posting Images – Facebook posts with images have a 37% higher engagement rate than posts with text only. If your Facebook fans see nothing but links to blog articles on your website or posts that say “Happy Monday Facebook Fans!” they’ll likely disengage. Don’t forget to incorporate plenty of compelling and high-quality images in your Facebook and Google+ profiles.
TIP: To boost your SEO efforts, we recommend posting images that are likely to be “shared” by your Facebook fans. Most of the time, they fall into the social or entertainment content category.
Posting Sporadically – A study by Facebook says that the average user checks their Facebook account 14 times a day on their smart phone. That’s 14 opportunities for you to connect with your patients and potential patients! But, the best way to go unnoticed is to post sporadically and unpredictably. You simply can’t post status updates or content once every few months and expect to engage successfully. A consistent visual presence is key to successful dental practice branding and that includes seeing you or your practice’s social media activity daily in their Facebook newsfeed.
We think Dale Carnegie would have had a bright future in online marketing. Too bad he was a few decades too late. But, with these simple “what not to do” tips for your social media profiles, you can be sure that you or your practice won’t lose Twitter followers or alienate your Facebook fans. Contact our skilled and experienced digital marketing team today for help in creating a social media or online marketing plan that works for you and your unique dental practice.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/