As I work with dentists across the country I have noticed some general thoughts and concerns surrounding the realm of social media—and Facebook in particular. The world has changed A LOT in the last 20 years and, obviously, so has dental marketing. Back in the good old days you might have been considered a progressive practice if you invested the $40,000 needed to own a full-page ad in the yellow pages. What are yellow pages? Exactly.
With the ascent of social media, dental practices have had to rethink how they interact with their patients. No longer can a practice hide behind one-way communication if they hope to succeed. Consumers have grown to expect two-way communication and will go somewhere else if you are not a willing partner.
One of the most difficult aspects of this two-way communication with your patients is that it takes what many dentists don’t have much of… TIME. It takes time to join in the conversation and, most importantly, understand how to do it correctly.
This is part one of a four-installment series about how to use Facebook to market your dental practice. Hopefully, we will address many of the concerns mentioned at the beginning of this article and save you dentists a little time in understanding Facebook and how to use it.Today the goal is to help you catch the vision of what is possible with the use of Facebook in your dental marketing plan.
The Opportunity Is There
Many dentists have concerns about whether their target market is even on Facebook. It is. As of June 2011, there are 149.4 million Facebook users… in America alone. “Yea, but that’s all teenagers and college students.” Nope. Earlier this year demographic information became available revealing that 55% of Facebook users are 26 or older. That’s a whole lot of potential patients.
Your Facebook fan page is your digital storefront on Facebook. You can tell people about you and your practice and why you’re better than the competition. But that’s not the true value of Facebook. When you get your current patients involved on your page (writing reviews, commenting on a new treatment, sharing funny office moments, etc), that interaction is displayed to their friends to see. That’s called viral marketing.
Dr. Smith has a loyal patient base. He recently created a Facebook page and has 35 fans. Each of these fans has 130 friends on average. He knows that 15 of these 35 would write him a great recommendation if asked, so he does so. The 15 happily accept the request and write raving reviews about Dr. Smith on his Facebook page. Now, anyone who runs across Dr. Smith’s Facebook page will see all these great reviews from real people. Awesome. But, the real value of these recommendations is that not only are they posted on Dr. Smith’s page, the review that the patient wrote will also appear in the news feed of all their 130 friends. Instead of having them tell one neighbor about how much they love Dr. Smith’s practice, the patient just told 130 of their friends. Multiply that by the 15 patients that wrote a review and Dr. Smith were just gushed about to 1,950 potential patient. Also, every time Dr. Smith posts an update to his practice’s Facebook page, his 35 followers will see it.
Are you starting to catch the vision of how Facebook can be a valuable dental marketing tool? Good.
In the next article we’ll talk about understanding your current market situation.