Social Media Marketing for Endodontists: The Two Keys to Getting Started Effectively
By Jack Hadley
As I visit with endodontists across North America about digital marketing, I often hear similar variations of the following comments and questions:
- “Social media doesn’t work for endodontists because we don’t have long-term patient relationships like general dentists do.”
- “Why on earth would anyone ‘Like’ an endodontist on Facebook?”
- “When patients come to an endodontist, they’re typically experiencing discomfort, which isn’t an ideal setting for talking to them about social media.”
- “How are we supposed to ‘sell’ services like root canals using social media?”
- “New patients for our endodontic practice primarily come from referring dentists, so we really don’t need to market to the public more generally.”
Now, I certainly understand why these comments are made and why these questions are asked. For decades, the marketing model and growth strategies for endodontic practices have remained pretty much the same. It hasn’t been uncommon for an endodontist to receive 100% of their revenue from general dentist referrals.
But today, marketing is different. Not only for general dentists, but for endodontists as well. Dr. Jacqueline S. Allen, a practicing endodontist from Phoenix recently wrote, “Consumers are taking to the internet to search out their own solutions and dental specialists. So many patients now utilize corporate dentists or clinics for their primary dental care and when they need services beyond the scope or comfort level of a clinic, they seek out the specialist themselves. This change has brought about an increase of ‘self-referred’ patients to the endodontist.”
Have you noticed this in the area where you practice as well?
Here’s what I believe are the two highest-priority success keys for endodontists just getting started with social media marketing.
Key No. 1: Have an Effective Reviews Acquisition Strategy
Today, your personal and practice’s digital footprints are crucial to your marketing success. Digital footprints are primarily the aggregation of those things that show up on pages one and two of a Google search when someone types in the practice’s name, or the endodontist’s name.
In the “old days” when a general dentist referred a patient to an endodontist, most patients simply accepted that recommendation, then called and made an appointment. Today, the moment patients leave the general dentist’s practice, they pull out their cell phones and learn everything about that referred endodontist (and every other endodontist in town) in minutes.
Yes, they may find your website. But people today tend to discount the credibility of what you say on your site in favor of what others say about you on review sites. They place huge trust in those published reviews about your practice!
Key No. 2: Focus on Facebook
Over 80 percent of adults online have a Facebook account, and most of them spend significant amounts of time there every day. In endodontic practice marketing, Facebook can be used in the following two ways:
First, Facebook can be used for advertising. Second, Facebook can be used for social media marketing. These are two very, very different things! Let me say that again! Facebook advertising is not Facebook social media marketing. This is the single-most important thing that an endodontist must understand about Facebook.
Facebook advertising is just that — advertising. Facebook advertising sells endodontic services. It’s been my experience that Facebook advertising is not effective for endodontists. If you are an exception, please email me and let me know. I would love to learn from you!
Facebook social media marketing, on the other hand, has nothing to do (directly) with selling endodontic services. My experience has been that Facebook social media marketing for endodontists is very effective in several ways.
More and more often (because advertising isn’t trusted) people are turning to trusted, permission-based social networks like Facebook for recommendations from extended family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers. It’s not uncommon today to see people making the following comment, and then asking this question on Facebook: “My dentist told me I need a root canal. Who do you recommend?” When people make those recommendations, the practices with a buttoned-down, welcoming presence on Facebook appear ready, able, accessible and anxious to serve new patients. It’s word of mouth on steroids.
Facebook is also the absolute best place to establish and maintain a positive practice brand. Branding today is no longer about your logo, or your corporate colors, or how beautiful your website looks. Branding is about your authenticity, your honesty, your reputation, your transparency and even the good that you are doing in the world. People learn about this through social media and it makes a big difference in growing your business.
Remember, this part isn’t necessarily about maintaining a long-term relationship with a single patient. You’re right — you may treat that patient and not see them again for 20 years! I understand. This is about more than that. This is about all the people who are connected to that patient through these amazing, huge social media channels.
If you’re not yet using social media to grow your practice, start today. Do it in baby steps. You’ll be surprised and delighted over time as you not only see its effect on your practice’s growth, but also the positive effects owning your marketing story will have on your team, and on your own feelings about your career.
Jack Hadley teaches social media marketing to MBA students at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management in Provo, Utah. He is a founding partner at My Social Practice™, an agency providing social media marketing content, strategy, and support to dental, orthodontic, and dental specialty practices worldwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.