Facebook for Dental Practices
Although social media is becoming increasingly important for businesses across all different types of service areas, I often find that dental practices do not feel that the movement is relevant or necessary to their business. However, based on my extensive experience working both in the dentistry field and in marketing, I believe Facebook for dentistry is highly relevant and in fact necessary for a well-rounded and effective marketing plan.
Facebook is the Largest Social Media Platform
According to Think Digital First, “The United Kingdom has a population of 64.1 million and 89% of this population is an active internet user. 38 million people actively use social media and 50% of total population actively use their mobiles to access their social media.” Furthermore, despite the presence of other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, Facebook is still the leading platform worldwide, with over 31 million users in the UK alone.
With such a staggering number of users online, on their phones and simply put, on Facebook, it becomes evident that it’s in any business’s best interest to have an active and engaging Facebook presence in order to make sure they reach the full potential of their customer base. Failing to have a Facebook page or operating a sub-par account would certainly be a lost opportunity for any practice.
Facebook Instills Confidence in New Patients
When you are considering a new business, what’s the first thing you usually do? Google them! Chances are the first result will be the business’s website. Frequently, the second result will be their Facebook page. A business’s website is going to be informative providing valuable information such as opening hours, contact phone numbers, address, services provided and staff names, but unless it has a good blog section, it might well be stagnant. A potential patient, if they are a Facebook user, is likely going to take the time to visit the Facebook site as well to see what information is there. If they don’t find a Facebook page, they may question how up-to-date the business is, wondering if it is an “old school” practice that hasn’t caught up with the current times. Potential patients may wonder whether or not communicating or engaging with clients is even a priority for the practice.
However, if they do find a Facebook page for the dental practice, the positive impressions that can come from it are endless. First, Facebook provides an opportunity for customers to see more images of your practice – building, dentist and staff pictures, logo, etc. – which will provide familiarity and a level of comfort when visiting your practice for the first time. If you include the occasional fun item, the patient will see a “human” side of the practice. Helpful dental tips demonstrate a sincere commitment to improving patients’ health. Promotions or new products and services will provide certainty that the practice values communicating with patients so that they are informed about everything happening in the practice. Posting brief profiles on staff allows patients to get to know the practice on a personal level, and sharing any awards received or accolades will provide a confidence in the level of care your practice provides. As you can see, Facebook allows dental practices to communicate in a relevant, timely and dynamic manner in a way that a website would never allow.
Facebooks Keeps Patients Engaged Between Appointments
Dental practices are unique in that if a patient is healthy with no dental issues, they generally only visit the practice twice a year. This gap between visits makes it easy for a patient to become disconnected from your practice. They may decide to cancel an appointment simply because they don’t see the need to go if they are healthy or if they don’t feel connected, they may decide to switch practices to a location that is more convenient for them. Even though you may only see patients twice a year, it’s still important to have a relationship with your patients and communicate with them in between appointments.
As mentioned above, posting oral health tips, staff bios, awards and even amusing content are all ways to communicate with a patient between appointments. As they scroll through their Facebook feed, they will consistently see your practice’s posts. They probably will not read or “react” to all of them in their entirety – they will likely pick and choose the ones that are most relevant to them – but the regular reminder that your practice is out there and available and that you simply care about your patients will keep patients engaged, ultimately making them loyal to your practice and more likely to stay on track with regular appointments.
Facebook Fuels Word of Mouth Recommendations
Any business knows that the most effective way to acquire new patients is through word of mouth recommendations. These don’t cost you anything. Facebook is a great way to keep your practice name in the forefront of your patient's mind. Furthermore, an individual is more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend than a postcard or flier put out by a business, making them more likely to become a new patient.
Facebook makes word of mouth recommendations easy – both for your existing client and your new one. When you post on Facebook, your existing client can easily share your post with their friend or comment saying, “Susie, this is the dental practice I was telling you about.” The potential client can then – with just one click – visit your Facebook page to learn more about your practice and its dentists. All the information they might need – opening hours, address, telephone number, etc. – is all right there for them to access. And all they need is their mobile phone. This is a much more convenient and more likely way for everyone involved to complete the referral process. Furthermore, even if your existing patient only “likes” your page or “reacts” to a post, this might still pop up in their friends’ feeds, allowing you to get your name in front of endless potential clients.
I trust I have demonstrated WHY a dental practice needs to have an active and engaging Facebook account, but I also recognize that this is a time-consuming process and staff may already be working at full capacity. You certainly don’t want creating and managing a Facebook page to take away from other staff responsibilities such as ensuring diaries are full and all recalls are followed up. So what’s the solution? This is an excellent opportunity to save both time and money by outsourcing to an expert, someone who knows the industry, knows what information patients want to receive via Facebook and knows how to deliver it in an effective and engaging manner. This way, your practice can reap all of the benefits – both with existing and potential patients – of an active Facebook presence without comprising daily activities of your practice or the level of customer care you provide. I invite you to learn more about Social Media Management at Simon Knox Limited, and please know that I would be happy to speak with you in person in order to discuss how we may take your dental practice to the next level.