And How to Build it
By Jack Hadley
For endodontists who receive many — if not most — of their new patients as referrals from general dentists, the purpose of social media marketing may not be readily apparent. But progressive endodontic practices with vision understand the true nature of digital marketing and the role social media and online reputation management play in sustaining and growing their businesses.
General dentists have been using social media marketing for some years now to attract new patients and retain existing ones. Many of those same strategies, with a few modifications, are equally effective in growing endodontic practices. A strong social media presence for your practice isn’t about advertising endodontic services. It’s about building your business through creating trust and turning patients (even one-time patients) into advocates.
Build the ‘Social Proof’ New Patients Seek
One of the greatest things about social media is how it enables consumers to make decisions that are right for them, even when faced with an overwhelming number of options. The primary resource that allows them to do this is called “social proof.”
Social proof means that people consider the actions and opinions of others as “proof” that a choice or behavior is favorable or correct. Social media has given people instant access to both observe and ask about the choices of trusted friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members, as well as receive recommendations from them — all of which greatly influence their healthcare decisions.
The vast majority of prospective new patients who are considering you — whether you were recommended by their general dentist or not — will use social media to gather information about you, in addition to reading your online reviews. With just a few clicks, they get impressions about everyone in their community who offers such services, including other endodontists and general dentists.
Prospective new endodontic patients place huge trust in 1) the quantity and ratings of reviews, 2) the recommendations from people in their trusted, permission-based social media networks, and 3) the culture of the practice as evidenced by the practice’s presence and activity on social media channels.
Use your online presence to show that former patients loved their experience with your practice, and that you and your team love what you do in helping people. You’ll build the social proof that helps convince prospective patients that choosing you is the right decision.
Invite Patients to Participate in Social Media
Finding the right way to invite patients to participate in your social media can be challenging, especially when many patients come to your practice in serious discomfort.
But the benefits of forging connections with these patients through social media are too important to pass up. You don’t need every patient to write a review or share on social media. Look at both your upcoming schedule and the pages of your recent-past schedule. Identify the right patients and simply ask. These patients can become your best advocates, writing reviews and introducing family and friends to your practice when they’re asked for recommendations on their own social media channels. Pick and choose those patients, and those circumstances under which this makes sense. You’ll be surprised how willing most patients are to help you.
How do you create an online presence that fits your practice and is something patients will want to be a part of? Start with Facebook. Regularly post content that provides a glimpse into your team culture, gives your thoughts on important oral care issues — or simply makes your followers smile!
Invite patients to “Like” your Facebook page and write a Google review in follow-up emails, calls and, when appropriate, in the practice. Frame social media as a part of their experience — an opportunity to give feedback, stay in touch and receive valuable ongoing oral care advice.
Strengthen Relationships That Help Your Practice Thrive
Using social media marketing, you have incredible opportunities to strengthen your reputation, boost your visibility and better connect with local dentists in meaningful ways.
Here are a few things you can do in just minutes a day to become more prominent in your dental community:
- Join dental and endodontic groups on Facebook and comment regularly.
- Follow local dental professionals and practices on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Complete your own LinkedIn profile and regularly post to it.
- Search relevant community and dental-related hashtags and participate in conversations.
- When appropriate, start conversations with dental professionals as you learn about their personal interests and activities.
Remember, social media marketing isn’t about selling root canals. It’s about using these amazing and simple-to-use tools to reach into the communities you serve, build trust and stay top of mind. Start small; be consistent and don’t quit. Build connections with former and current patients, general dentists and other businesses. You’ll find it can be far more effective and powerful than you ever imagined.
For more information about using social media and other marketing tactics in your endodontic practice, review the AAE’s three-part Marketing the Endodontic Practice e-book series.
Jack Hadley teaches social media marketing to MBA students at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management in Provo, Utah. He is also the founding partner at My Social Practice, an agency providing social media marketing content, strategy, and support to dental and dental specialty practices worldwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.