When it comes to growing a flourishing practice, we all understand that trust is critical.
Trust pushes a prospective new patient across the line to call your practice for his or her first appointment. Trust retains patients and decreases attrition, and trust prompts current patients to recommend your practice to their extended family members, neighbors, coworkers and friends.
For relationship-based businesses such as dental practices, smart social media marketing excels at creating, strengthening and safeguarding trust.
People No Longer Trust What YOU Say About Your Business
Each year, Edelman Research releases what they call a “trust barometer” that reflects a look at the public’s level of trust in various institutions, companies and systems. For the past few years, worldwide, trust in businesses has actually been falling.
People today are more discerning about which businesses they choose and support. They not only care about the quality of the products and services that are provided, but they also care about the business’s transparency, integrity, accessibility, charity efforts and customer experience.
Consumers, and your perspective new patients, are becoming smarter and much more savvy. They do their own research and they’re much less likely to trust traditional mass advertising messages, including those things that you’re publishing on your website.
Instead, when making a decision as important as choosing a dentist, they look for input from their own trusted friends, family and other local residents through social media and reviews. They look for “social proof” — evidence based on the choices and behaviors of members in their trusted social circles — that their decision is the correct one.
What others are saying online about your practice has an enormous influence on the level of trust you inspire in existing patients and prospective new patients.
Learn to steer online conversations about your practice, and you’ll show that you’re truly a business worthy of patients’ trust.
Here are four simple and effective ways that you can grow and harness social proof:
1. Better obtain and manage your practice’s online reviews. Your practice needs positive patient reviews, and lots of them. Pull up the day’s patient schedule and identify one or two patients with whom you have great relationships, and you suspect would be happy to write you a positive review. Specifically assign team members to ask these patients for a review, then have them report on how it went. Also, check each of your practice’s social media pages every day for new reviews and respond to them, thanking patients for positive reviews and addressing any complaints that arise.
2. Turn patients into advocates. Your practice’s best, most effective marketing content actually isn’t created by you. It’s created when a patient posts about you on their own page, and mentions or tags your practice. When a patient posts, it introduces your practice to their entire network of family and friends who trust their recommendations. How do you actually get a patient to post? It starts by creating an in-practice experience so remarkable that they can’t help but share.
3. Leverage influencers. If your practice has ever received a compliment from a well-known person, or if you know any of your patients have significant social media followings, invite them to snap a photo at your practice and post it to their social media accounts. Additionally, it’s incredibly simple to find and reach out to local influencers of all types through social media. If you offer them a special discount on whitening or other dental treatment in exchange for them posting about you on social media, make sure that both you and the influencer are transparent about the nature of the promotion.
4. Turn intangibles into transference. There’s a degree of “transference” that takes place in patients’ minds with practices that are consistent with their dental social media efforts. The assumption is that if you’re consistent and reliable in providing relevant, educational engaging content through your social media platform, then in patients’ minds, you also likely provide the same consistency and leading-edge standards in everything you do — including the dental materials and procedures you use, the patient benefit-driven technologies you ascribe to, the way you respond and treat people, the CE you attend, etc. It’s this type of positive top-of-mind awareness that leads patients to introduce your practice to family and friends who trust their recommendations.
About the Author
Jackson Hadley is a marketing strategist with My Social Practice, which provides a complete social media marketing solution for dental, orthodontic and optometric practices. A public relations specialist, Jackson combines the advertising and trust-building aspects of social media to help businesses connect authentically with their communities.