Oral Health Group
Feature

Leverage the Power of Social Media

October 11, 2022
by Nathalia Porras MBA, Founder NP Dental Marketing


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How social media tactics can help market and grow a dental practice

When we think of technology and its impact on the dental industry, we can’t ignore the importance of social media.

Has your dental practice already jumped onto the social media bandwagon? Are you looking to steer your office’s presence in a more professional direction? Or are you new to the online marketing world and simply want to avoid rookie mistakes and get started on the right foot? Whatever your familiarity with social media marketing, in 2022, every dental practice needs a coordinated online presence to be successful and that includes social channels.

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Let’s take a look at some key statistics on social media usage to drive home how vital it is to your practice:

  • Worldwide, there are now 4.6 billion social media users
  • Canada alone has 34.5 million such users, with a penetration rate of almost 90 percent and one of the world’s most connected countries
  • By 2026, that penetration rate is predicted to reach up to 96 percent
  • Average worldwide time spent on social media is almost 2.5 hours/day

The most popular social media platforms across the world are:

  1. Facebook (owned by Meta)
  2. YouTube (owned by Google)
  3. WhatsApp (owned by Meta)
  4. Instagram (owned by Meta)
  5. WeChat
  6. TikTok

Facebook continues its dominance as the world’s most popular social network with 2.91 billion active users. This massive user base underscores how important it is for your dental practice to have a structured plan before launching your page. With huge adoption rates across online platforms, this also means making an educated and strategic decision on which platforms to adopt and what content strategy to bring to them.

This is reinforced by the incredible number of social media users that spend time on multiple platforms. Eighty-three percent of Instagram users also use Facebook and 48 percent of Facebook users are on TikTok.

What does this mean for your social media strategy? First, recognize how a user interacts with each platform, which varies widely. YouTube videos are longer and can convey more detailed information; users here are more likely to be looking to educate themselves on a treatment they’re considering. On TikTok, a very different video-based network, users are looking for quicker, more entertaining experiences via “snackable content”. Moving on to Instagram, a mix of visual media gives users a chance to experience the look and feel of your clinic.

The differences across social media platforms are clear but the goal is the same: turn prospective patients into real ones or leverage current patients to recommend your clinic. This is what makes a structured strategy so vital; what will tie all these different presences together is how you present your space, team, patients, and offers in line with your brand and the audience’s expectations. This will help you choose the right channels to focus on to suit your practice’s business and marketing goals.

What can social media do for your clinical practice?

What does this variety in social media usage mean for your practice? Let’s take a deeper dive into what these platforms can do for your clinic, be it a specialized one like an oral surgery clinic or a provider of general dentistry services.

Social media is a vital tool that can help you:

  • Attract the right patients to your practice, letting you do more of what you love
  • Build a strong brand that positions you as a credible expert in your field
  • Convert followers into patients (aka “the ultimate goal!”)
  • Create platform-tailored content that drives engagement that lets you stand out
  • Increase treatment awareness, interest, and acceptance among patients
  • Earn more patient referrals with online “word-of-mouth”’ (aka “the second ultimate goal!”)

After tying treatment and service offers to your business and marketing goals, you’re ready to lay a foundation for how to put them into practice. Let’s next take a look at some key items to consider before clicking “publish.”

Seven key items to consider for your dental practice’s social media strategy

The following social media tactics make up part of what the NP Dental Marketing team implements on behalf of our clients. Weekly, monthly, or yearly, our experience has shown us that correctly applying the following tactics with appropriate frequency to your social media strategy brings measurable success, online and offline.

1. Set expectations and timelines to match

Seeing tangible results from social media takes time; the journey from user to patient is long. What’s great about social media is that it has a compound effect in patient attraction. This exponential growth factor makes social media a long game. It requires consistency, some trial and error in testing, and lots of planning. Take the time to prioritize your objectives and pick your tactics. Nothing replaces proper planning for focus and execution.

2. Know your IPA (Ideal Patient Avatar)

One of the first things to do (too often ignored!) is to identify your ideal patient. Understand who they are, what they are looking for, and how you can deliver it to them. In healthcare, like most businesses, the 80:20 rule applies: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your patients… focus on that 80 percent and the rest will follow. Focus on the missing 20 percent and you’ll lose the 80 percent!

3. Create content that drives engagement and positions you as an authority

Plan your content beforehand and be sure to include a variety of formats and topics. These include before/after cases, behind-the-scenes, features on team members and answering common patient questions (the most basic questions are often the best!). Don’t be afraid to experiment with video by using short-form content that both educates and entertains your audience (especially reels and TikTok videos). When a key barrier to patient adoption is demystifying the process, anything that showcases what it’s like to sit in the chair – and picture themself in it – will remove it!

4. Plan for a marathon, not a sprint

We’ve seen this story time and time again: you come back from a dental conference taking in an exciting talk about social media. Your motivation to implement your learnings is in overdrive and you launch a bevy of campaigns without tying them together. Sure, this makes your pages look active but also confusing and incoherent. It also sets an unrealistic frequency of posting that likely isn’t sustainable. Don’t give up after a few months if consultations are slow to flow; keep your social media strategy aligned and you’ll reap the rewards.

5. Use paid ads to support your organic content

Without the support of paid campaigns to ensure your content is being viewed by the right people, many of your efforts risk going to waste. We’re often told social media delivers some of the best “bang for your buck” in marketing ROI (return on investment) but that doesn’t mean it’s free. It’s wise to run paid campaigns in parallel with organic (non-sponsored) social media efforts, be it with ads on Facebook or Instagram, TikTok or Google.

6. When to DIY and when to outsource?

Implementing a marketing campaign is multifaceted. It is also a significant investment for your practice (with likewise returns!). It’s important to be honest with yourself: can you put in the time to do the work? Not just for a week but consistently for months, if not years? Do you have the time, passion, and resources? This requires skill, budget, and personnel. If you can’t reliably forecast you and your team executing at a consistent quality-to-quantity level, you may need to outsource this to a dedicated firm or specialized consultant.

A key point to remember here: each option has a cost, and trade-off, associated. If you go the DIY (do-it-yourself) route, the opportunity cost is not spending time on other areas of your practice, patients, and even personal life. This last point can’t be ignored as many practitioners spend their evenings and weekends working on their marketing plans, which can create unbalance in their lives. Delegating within your team can be a great option but you’ll want to make sure your staff are still able to do their jobs in full. Sometimes it’s just as costly not to hire a professional as it is to do so.

7. What do you really want to achieve?

What’s your core reason for being on social media? Is it to:

  • position yourself (or practice) as an expert in the field?
  • get an influx of new patients?
  • increase your percentage of wallet share of current patients?
  • establish a highly recognizable brand?

Pick your goal(s) and keep revisiting them. As you roll out your social media strategy, always ask yourself “does this bring me closer to achieving my goal? If so, is this the best way to do it?” If the answer to either is no, tweak your strategy and pivot accordingly. It’s much wiser to course-correct mid-journey than end up in the wrong destination!

If you need help with social media marketing, website development, or rolling out your online presence, our team of dental marketers at NP Dental Marketing is just a DM, email, or phone call away. It would be a pleasure to make sure the social media bandwagon you’re on is steered in the right direction.

Why should you be on social media?

The word-of-mouth effect: it generates online referrals and recommendations while building trust with your current patients – turning your patients into brand (or clinic!) ambassadors.

The first impression effect: like any business, patients often visit social media profiles before even looking at your website, let alone making a phone call. You really do only get one chance to make a first impression (and yes, it really does stick!).

References

  1. Inc., H. (2022, January 1). .Hootsuite-logo_svg__st0{fill:#ff4c46}.hootsuite-logo_svg__st0{fill:#ff4c46}. The Global State of Digital 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.hootsuite.com/resources/digital-trends
  2. Published by S. Dixon, & 13, J. (2022, July 13). Social Network Penetration in Canada 2027. Statista. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/304742/social-network-penetration-in-canada
  3. Inc., H. (2022, January 1). .Hootsuite-logo_svg__st0{fill:#ff4c46}.hootsuite-logo_svg__st0{fill:#ff4c46}. The Global State of Digital 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.hootsuite.com/resources/digital-trends

About the Author

Nathalia Porras is the CEO and founder of NP Dental Marketing, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in social media marketing, website design, and online paid ads services exclusively for dentists. Launched in 2015, she is also an experienced entrepreneur, fundraiser, speaker, and strategy consultant. She completed a BComm in marketing and international business at McGill University and an MBA at HEC Montréal with similar focus. Since its inception, NP Dental Marketing has enabled dentists to attain practice success and growth with tailored online marketing programs. Her clients include general and specialized dentists, along with professional dental associations. Nathalia’s vision is brought to life via her passion for infusing ‘strategic creativity’ into the dental industry and leading teams who share this drive.


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