What’s the most important part of sharing a photo from your dental practice? Lighting? Composition? No — it’s WHO shared it and the effect it has on your branding or marketing efforts. Knowing the difference between the two will drastically change how your team approaches social media.
Here’s a common scenario: a dental practice new to social media is excited to get the ball rolling and attract new patients by posting photos every day. They share photos of team members, practice events and patients (after getting written permission, of course). After a few weeks, they notice they’re getting compliments on their social media presence from patients, but not much else. “What went wrong?” they wonder.
What this team hasn’t quite grasped yet is the difference between branding and marketing, and how they both play into an effective social media plan. By understanding and utilizing the strengths of both you’ll be able to establish a strong, personable brand, expand your audience, get more referrals and boost retention.
Push and Pull
Over the past few years, marketing has taken on a broad definition — encompassing everything from advertising to public relations and more. What’s useful to remember is that any effort to promote your practice and services, to push your name to a larger audience and get sales results, is marketing.
Branding, on the other hand, seeks to pull people in through communicating your values, culture and characteristics. How does this help grow your practice? A strong brand establishes initial rapport when a visitor finds your practice on social media for the first time. A strong brand nurtures relationships and helps you maintain top-of-mind awareness, converting your patients and fans into advocates for your practice.
The Marketing/Branding Balance
Let’s return to our example scenario. In this case, the practice had been posting a lot of photos of team members and patients. While doing this does have some branding value, showing you care personally about the people involved in your practice, it has virtually no marketing value.
One of the best ways to get marketing value from social media is to get your patients to post photos of themselves to their own accounts, then tag your practice. This offers several marketing advantages over your practice posting the photo:
- The patient’s friends and family who trust their recommendations will see the post
- No HIPAA consent is required
- If your practice page doesn’t have many fans, a patient’s post will have better reach
- No additional cost to promote the post
In order for marketing to work you need branding, and vice versa. Push your name to potential patients through channels they trust — your existing patients — and pull them into your practice family by showcasing your outstanding team, community involvement, and commitment to lifelong healthcare relationships.
To learn more about how to get patients to share about your practice in their own friend circles, check out some of the tools My Social Practice offers to help dentists achieve their marketing goals.
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.
Interested in contributing to Oral Health Group’s dental blog? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!