Best Social Media Applications for the Dental Industry
Any dental practice can benefit from incorporating social media marketing tools and channels into an overall marketing mix. Even so, don't take a cookie-cutter approach to social media. What is good for one type of business is not necessarily good for another. What works for florists or restaurants won't necessarily work for dental practices. Here are some networks and applications that can be effective for dentists.
There are a number of niche social networks specifically for dentists. Join a dentistry social network such as WebDental or DentalTown if you are looking to network in your industry with colleagues. If your goals are marketing to a broader audience including new patient acquisition and building your practice's brand and reputation, the larger social networks may prove more useful to you.
One long-standing and professionally oriented social network that is appropriate for dentists is LinkedIn. Most professionals can benefit from a LinkedIn Profile based on one's professional resume. The exchanges taking place on LinkedIn are with more business-minded professionals and trusted connections. Encourage or train your staff to set up their own LinkedIn accounts and fill them out in detail.
LinkedIn offers free Company Pages that are similar to Facebook Pages. Your staff can link their profiles to your Company Page to automatically add an employee list to your Page. Post company news to your Page as you would any other social network.
Consider joining select LinkedIn Groups where you can network with others in your industry and participate in industry-related discussions. Results from a search of "Dental" under LinkedIn Groups range from the American Dental Association to Dental Sales Professionals and Dental Marketing Professionals.
Should you use Facebook or Twitter? Both networks are highly trafficked sites and can help you build your reputation, gain exposure for your practice and reach prospective patients. Choosing which popular social network or networks to adopt is often more of a personal choice as well as a strategic one based on where your patients and potential patients communicate and how many resources you have to maintain multiple social networking presences.
A simple verbal or written survey of your patients asking them what social networks they use can help you determine where you should be. Then make sure you obtain proper training to get the most out of the network or networks you opt to use or hire a reputable social media marketing consultant to help.
Yelp is a popular review site, directory and social network easily accessible from the web or a mobile device. Set up a free account on Yelp that lets you post photos and messages to your patients. Patients can use their mobile devices to check in to your place on Yelp, and they can broadcast their Yelp activities to Facebook and Twitter.
Another free way to list your practice is through a Google+ My Business Page. Verify your location through Google's verification process so your company appears properly in Google searches.
YouTube is the most popular online video publishing and sharing tool. Many dentists use online video as a form of marketing and communications, adding multimedia to their outreach efforts. In addition to posting video testimonials and educational video on YouTube, you can also embed them into your website or blog.
If you're known for "state-of-the-art" technology, you may want to explore mobile marketing and communications. With so many people carrying Wi-Fi- or cellular-enabled mobile devices these days, the opportunity to reach patients and prospective patients through their phones and tablets continues to grow.
The first place to start if you're "going mobile" is to make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Facebook and Twitter are accessed more and more on smartphones so using either of those social networks or both means you may already be reaching people via mobile.
Even if you use social networks and mobile apps, don't neglect building your email list. Email lists can still be very effective for reaching your target audience with marketing messages and calls to action. Direct people to subscribe to your email list from the social networks you're using or add a subscription tool to your website, blog or even Facebook Page. Look for multiple ways to stay in touch with your patients and to reach out to new ones.
Disclaimer: This article was written by a social media marketing consultant. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.