Social media is one of the most engaging and pervasive forms of online interaction
today. On average, Americans spend more than three hours per day using social
media.1 Even more important, the most valuable demographic groups for your practice
are the ones most often frequenting popular social media destinations:
- 74 percent of women use social media sites
- 78 percent of users are between the ages of 30-49
- 72 percent are college educated
- 71 percent have annual household incomes in excess of $75,0002
These are patients (prospective and existing) your practice wants to reach.
This information is critical to your practice because social media has become a
primary information source and decision influencer for ready-to-buy consumers.
An overwhelming majority (80 percent) of social media users prefer to connect with
brands through Facebook. More than 78 percent of consumers say that a company’s
social media posts impact their purchases, while 74 percent rely on social networks
to guide purchase decisions.2
The social media world has become
increasingly sophisticated and complex. The
number of channels and connection opportunities
continues to increase. It is extremely
important to choose the social media channels
that offer the most benefit to your practice and
ensure your presence across those channels
provides a strong, integrated practice brand.
Communicating an effective, consistent brand
requires professional writing and messaging
management. Your practice can ill afford to ignore or give only cursory attention to
There are four primary social media strategies that will help your practice maximize
the value of social media to build a loyal patient community and establish
stronger referrals to drive new patient appointment requests.
1. Establish Your Presence on Popular Social Media Channels
There are thousands of social media channels, and new ones seem to crop up
on a daily basis. However, a small handful of social networks tend to dominate
consumer interest. Be sure your practice has a presence on these popular and strategic
Facebook – Facebook continues to be the most popular social network by a
country mile, with 1.2 billion users and growing3 (second place Google+ has about
540 million active users4). Additionally, 93 percent of U.S. adult Internet users are
Facebook is appealing because it’s one of the most business-friendly social media
sites. Businesses can create branded, customized Facebook pages and effectively
drive traffic to their pages using multiple inexpensive marketing tactics. Your practice
can leverage its Facebook channel to post a wide variety of multimedia content,
educated visitors and much more. More importantly, businesses are documenting
positive ROI from their Facebook presences – 70 percent of business-to-consumer
marketers have acquired a customer through Facebook.5
Google+ – Google+ recently surpassed Twitter as the second most popular
social network, and shows no signs of slowing (625,000 new users join Google+
every day!6). In just two years, Google+ has evolved from a curiosity to what should
be an important part of every business’s social media presence.
Google+ has several attractive features for businesses. First, it allows you to create
comprehensive, brand-focused Google+ pages that provide ample information about your practice. As the social hub of all things Google, you can easily integrate
videos from YouTube, pictures, status updates and more. Plus, getting
involved on Google+ is great for SEO.
Twitter – Though it may have lost its #2 spot, Twitter still boasts more than
500 million users. Like Facebook, Twitter is business-friendly: 88 percent of
Twitter users follow brands, and 50 percent of companies with Twitter presences
have acquired a customer through Twitter.7
Maintaining a Twitter presence need not be time-consuming. In just seconds,
you can send out a tweet that reaches thousands of potential patients.
YouTube – Despite being known as a video network, YouTube is also the
world’s second-largest search engine. The site allows you to easily upload
videos up to 15 minutes long, which can be shared with your YouTube community,
posted on your Twitter and Facebook pages, and embedded in your
blog and website.
When you notice a patient who is pleased or excited about their experience,
ask if you can shoot a quick video of them talking about it, and get their permission
to share it on your YouTube channel.
2. Maintain a Consistent Practice Brand
Most consumers divide their social media activities among several networks.
As powerful new mobile devices enable current and prospective patients to access
their social channels from anywhere, it’s important for your practice to have a
consistent brand identity across your social media profiles.
While the specifics vary by channel, a practice brand identity for social media
should include consistent:
- Practice logo
- Color scheme
- Contact information
- Practice description
- Doctor profiles (where applicable)
- Links to important pages on your website (such as your Online
Appointment Scheduling page)
With a consistent brand identity, your practice will gain important synergies
and be sure visitors experience a consistent, professional-looking presence across
all social media channels.
3. Engage Followers with Compelling Content
The more customers engage with a brand on social media, the more they are
likely to purchase and the more loyal they become.8 The key to engaging your
existing and prospective patients on social media is simple: post interesting and
compelling content. Here are some tips for creating this content:
- Commit to a frequent posting schedule –Most users log on to social media
several times a day. Committing to a daily (if not more frequently) posting
schedule will help you maximize opportunities to connect with patients.
- Adopt a consistent brand “personality”– Your social media “personality”
helps drive patient engagement, and every post and tweet should be instilled with it. While personality “traits” may vary based on your practice’s
brand, generally you want to present your practice as helpful, trustworthy
- Post engaging content – The types of content that has proved to be effective
at generating engagement on social media include:
- Contests or sweepstakes
- Questions posed to visitors (the simpler the better)
- Big, visually interesting graphics, photos and videos
- Useful content such as ortho-related trivia, tips
4. Consistently Interact with Followers
Social media creates an ongoing two-way communication stream between you
and your patients. By engaging with social media followers the right way, your practice
can strengthen existing patient relationships and forge new ones. This involves
more than occasionally responding to a message; it requires a consistent responsiveness
Patients who post on your Facebook page or message you on Twitter expect a
timely response if one is required. In fact, a recent study found that 50 percent of
consumers only give brands a week to respond to their questions on social media
before they stop doing business with them.9
If you delay responding to online patient feedback – or don’t respond at all –
you send a message about your practice’s willingness to engage with patients.
Unaddressed or deleted comments from a patient will negatively impact your
online reputation. To avoid this, make sure to monitor and respond to all patient
feedback, positive or negative, in a timely manner.
Social media is not only where your patients spend their time online but often
where they prefer to engage and interact with your practice. Making sure your practice
is on the social media sites most frequented by your patients is the first step.
Just as important, ensuring all your social media outlets maintain a consistent
brand that delivers fresh and compelling content will keep your practice on their
digital radar. Finally, making sure you monitor and engage with patients that reach
out to you via social media will help you foster a loyal patient community that
refers friends and family to your practice.