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Action April 2017 Cover

What Works on Social Media?

5 Ideas to Help You Engage Your Patients

Marketing has changed significantly in even the last ten years, and today, every business needs a presence on social media—it’s as essential as having a phone book listing used to be. Social media is where your patients can find you, learn about your services, and engage with you.

However, once you have established a Facebook page or Instagram account, you need to fill it with content. For many, it’s easy to know what to share on your personal social media pages—but when it comes to your dental practice, you might be stuck staring at a blank page, trying to think of something to say.

Here are five ideas that can help you overcome your writer’s block:

1. Show off your practice and your team. Everyone loves a behind-the-scenes look—even at a dental practice. You might post a photo of a piece of equipment and tell your followers a little about what it does, or even share a picture of your staff members. But make sure you don’t post patient information, a photo with patient files visible, or even a picture of your patient without obtaining written consent— each of those things could violate HIPAA compliance.

Examples:
• Photos of your team at an event like a 5K or health fair.
• Feature a member of your dental team every month, and include a photo and a few fun facts.
• Let people know when you reach milestones: 1,000 appointments this year, or an employee who has a 10th anniversary at the practice.
• If you’re performing any charitable work, let your patients know! It makes them feel good to know about the good work you’re doing.

2. Show off your experience. You worked hard for your degree, and you’re constantly learning to make sure you can serve your patients even more effectively. Why not show that off?

Examples:
• Photo at a convention or continuing education session.
• Group photo at a study club.
• Article about new dental technology with a short sentence about why you find it valuable.

3. Be an expert. There are thousands of ways you can help a patient improve their oral health even when they’re not in the office—and you can share them online. Check out GDA’s Facebook page for content ideas or take advantage of resources on ADA.org’s MouthHealthy website that can teach your patients.

Examples:
• Video of you demonstrating proper tooth brushing or flossing technique.
• Post about national observances, like Oral Cancer Awareness Week.
• Share news articles about the link between oral health and overall health.

4. Share testimonials. If a patient left you a great review on a website like Yelp, Zocdoc, or Healthcare Grades, reach out privately and ask for written permission to share it, or ask them to share it to your page. Just be aware that even replying to a review could be a HIPAA violation, and ensure you do not disclose any private information even if the patient has already disclosed it online—you still need written permission, or could violate HIPAA by disclosing a patient-provider relationship. You can also encourage patients to post reviews while they’re finishing their appointment, or even offer them the chance to complete one while they’re at your office by providing a tablet or computer.

Even better, ask your patients to take a selfie with you showing off their bright, freshly examined smile, and to post it to their own social media pages while tagging you. However, make sure you don’t share this photo or comment on it without written consent from your patient.

5. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you like to make bad tooth puns, go for it! If you’re a person who shares information about your family or pets, feel free! All of these things make you feel authentic on social media, and give your patients new ways to relate to you. In today’s world, your customer wants to have a relationship with you, and will tune out a constant barrage of information about your prices, procedures, and promotions. On GDA’s social media, we often see that posts about our members, like a video of Dr.
Mark Dusek performing a song at the 2016 Annual Convention & Expo (our most popular post to date), create the most engagement.

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE POSTS

  • Use an image or video when you can. Facebook’s algorithms show these posts to more of your followers.
  • Be short and sweet. Although some long posts can be effective, studies show that 80 characters or less on Facebook is the most effective length.
  • Post at the best times for your audience. People often check their pages when they get to work, at lunch, and in the evening. If it’s difficult to post at the right times, consider using a free tool to schedule your posts, like Buffer or Hootsuite.
  • Ask questions—especially “Would you?” questions.
  • Try to post regularly. You may not post every day, but 3–4 times a week is great! Make sure to keep your post frequency consistent, and don’t go dark for weeks at a time.
  • Pick a platform and do it well. You might feel pressure to have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account, but if you’re going to neglect them, you should just stick to one.
  • Figure out where your patients are. Most of your clients probably aren’t on Twitter, and use Facebook instead. Don’t spend energy on a platform that won’t reach your current or prospective patients.
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