Successful dentists understand that there are two types of effective marketing; relationship-based marketing, also known as internal marketing, and ROI-based marketing, also called external marketing. Both types play a very important part in successful dental marketing, but in most cases, dentists don’t have the time, budget or staff to effectively do both. We’ve found that dentists who use social media don’t have to choose. Social media does both, and for dentists looking to find more patients searching online, it’s become an imperative place to be.
Social Media as External Marketing
We’re learning more and more that social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are deeply linked. As we’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post, within the US, among 44 ranking factors examined, social signals account for 7 of the 8 most highly correlated with Google search results. Social media is very important if you want your website to be highly visible in a Google search. Dentists who are more concerned with ROI than patient relationship marketing would be happy to hear that social media activity does contribute to your search engine page ranks. Here’s how:
Improve your Online Visibility
The most important thing that social media does to fuel your external marketing 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. Here are a couple of ways social media does that:
- Your Activity Matters – Google’s ranking algorithm keeps an eye on your social media activity, including Likes on Facebook, Shares on Facebook, Retweets on Twitter, +1’s on Google+ and the quality of your page’s content. The more activity, the better.
- Can your patients “Check-In”? – Your Facebook page will allow your patients to “check-in” on Facebook when they come to your office, as long as it falls under the Facebook “Places” setting. It lets them put a status update along with their check-in, usually something like, “Splurged and getting my teeth whitened today! So excited! #Beautifulsmile #Confident” or “Getting a cavity filled. Better learn to floss more often. #Ugh #Stilllovemydentist” So, what does this have to do with Google? Well, these “check-ins” by Facebook accounts other than your own help validate your location and address for Google Local, which affects your page rank for local searches of dentists in your area. If you don’t have a Facebook page to “check-in” to, you lose those social signals that Google is looking for.TIP: A printed QR code makes it easy for patients in your waiting room to navigate quickly to your Facebook page to Like or Check-In.
- Google+ – If you have a Gmail account, you have Google+ page. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? Well, did you also know that your Google+ account activity, meaning posts, shares, +1’s and accurate profile information, has a significant influence on your search engine page rank? It does and in fact, Google executives have said publicly that Google+ isn’t merely a socialnetwork, but the future of Google itself. If online marketing is important to your practice, you can’t ignore Google+.
Support your Online Reputation Management
It happens. You can do everything in your power to provide great dental care and excellent customer service to your patients, but negative reviews could still be posted about you. In the past, people might have told their neighbor, spouse and maybe a few other people if they weren’t happy with your service. But today, they go to Facebook or Twitter, tell 500 of their “friends” and tag you in the status update or tweet. It’s the new word of mouth. The good news is social media has the capability to diffuse negative reviews by giving you more control of what shows up about you and your practice in a Google search. If you practice has an active Facebook, Twitter and Google+ account, you have that much more control over what shows up about you and your practice on the first few pages of a Google search.
Social Media as Internal Marketing
When dentists consider using social media for their practice, its role in internal marketing is usually what comes to mind. After all, by using social media networks like Facebook or Twitter, you are given one more opportunity to connect with your patients. Here’s how:
Nurture Patient Relationships
For dentists who really want to nurture patient relationships via social media, Facebook is the place to be. It’s the most widely used of all the networks and probably, where most of your patient-base will be, socially. After all, of all US adults between the ages of 46-66 who use social media, 95% are on Facebook. It’s clear that this particular social network can do great things for your practice, but creating a content strategy that works can be tricky. If you want to connect with your patients in a real way, you have to be 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 (and this may be a hard pill to swallow), patients aren’t interested in reading about that on Facebook. To get the “likes” and comments that you need to please Google and have a dynamic social profile, your business page should be posting content that is heavy on “social” and light on “clinical.” Believe it or not, Facebook posts that get the most shares and “likes” usually have nothing to do with dentistry, or at the very least, give a funny or “cute” spin on the topic without being obvious or too “cheesy.” Needless to say, it can be a very delicate process.
It’s Low-Cost Marketing
More traditional internal marketing, like patient newsletters, and patient referral or giveaway programs can get really expensive, really quickly. While all of those marketing strategies certainly have value in keeping you, your staff and your patient base a tight-knit group; printing costs, postage, etc. can eat up your marketing budget quickly. So, possibly the best news about social media, is that using a network to connect with your patients is absolutely free; even the business pages.
It’s clear that the power of social media is continuing to grow. For dentists who want to get more patients online, a social media presence is becoming less of an option and more of a must-have. The good news for you is that through social media, you don’t have to choose between internal and external marketing strategies. Social media is proving to be both.
Does your dental practice have a strategic social media plan? Bullseye Media now offers a comprehensive social media program for dentists and dental specialists. Simply contact our team to find out if it’s the right fit for you.