October 16, 2017
by Jackson Hadley, My Social Practice
Hashtags are everywhere, and for good reason. They’re one of the best tools for harnessing the power of trending topics to spark engagement and deliver content to people who will care about it. But using them effectively is a balancing act: too many, and your posts look spammy and cluttered, too few, and you miss valuable opportunities to connect with patients and ideal potential patients in your community. Plus, keeping tabs on what’s popular and the associated hashtags takes a small daily effort.
But when dental teams use hashtags correctly in their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts, it leads to higher interaction and better reach among patients and ideal potential patients in their area.
Using hashtags effectively is simpler than you think. For starters, make sure you avoid these common hashtagging mistakes:
A large portion of dental teams that don’t use hashtags probably don’t because they’re not sure what they are or how to use them. It’s easy! A hashtag is simply a word, preceded by a pound sign (#), that groups social media posts under a topic.
For example, people posting their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about today’s Cavs game will include #Cavs somewhere in their post. Then, anybody who wants to check out the conversation about the game could simply search for or click on that hashtag and see all the posts that included it. It makes it easy to join popular conversations and get your content seen by more people. Studies suggest that posts with fitting and popular hashtags get twice the interaction as posts without.
We’ll go over how to choose good hashtags a little later, but for dentists, #(your city name), #dentist, #dentistry, and #dentalvisit are always good picks.
On the other end of the scale, having too many hashtags in a post is counterproductive as well. It makes your post look cluttered and spammy, and it distracts from the key message. Plus, on Twitter, you only have a limited number of characters to use. No matter the platform, limit yourself to three or less hashtags per post.
A trendy (although not very effective) way of using hashtags is making one up just to add some “flavor” to a post — kind of like a funny post-script. For example, ending a post with something like #DrJonesIsTheBest or #WeTakeCareOfPatientsAtDowntownDental. Sure, some of them are clever, but think about the purpose of hashtags: are you actually joining any conversations with hashtags like these, or is anybody ever going to actually search them? No.
Instead, choose hashtags that will actually help new patients find you. Along with the general-purpose tags like #dentist and #(your city name), find popular hashtags by browsing the trending topic lists of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Chime in with a post that includes the hashtag and relates the topic to dentistry or oral health. This is an excellent way to get more interaction and grow your audience.
Help New Patients Find You With Smart Hashtags
When choosing which hashtags to include in your posts, try to think like ideal potential patients in your area. What topics and conversations would they be interested in? Which hashtags might they realistically search for on social media? Create posts that show what makes your practice so great, and relate them to hot topics by including appropriate hashtags. Patients and potential patients will see you participating, keeping you at the top of their minds, and making them more likely to schedule an appointment or refer a friend.
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.