Do I have time for social media
for my dental practice?
Social media done right requires at least one or the other,
and it works best when you devote both on a regular basis.
As anyone in a service industry knows (especially when it
comes to health care), word of mouth is the best form of
marketing that exists. In fact, in a 2014 research study by the
Journal of the American Medical Association, 85% of respondents
cited word of mouth as an important factor in choosing a
health-care provider, beating out provider referrals by a slim
margin and provider-ratings websites by a hefty margin. 1
Dental practices can benefit from social media because
social media is really just online word of mouth. However,
word of mouth—whether on or offline—always requires a
consistent time investment.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES SOCIAL MEDIA TAKE?
An initial time investment to set everything up, plus an ongo-
ing time investment of up to 10 hours per month, can be
expected if you’re truly committed to incorporating social
media into your practice. 2 This includes content creation,
content distribution, monitoring and networking, community
building, and analytics and measuring results. 2
A hit-or-miss approach in regard to social media posting
is a guaranteed way to fail, so having a marketing plan in
place is imperative to ensure a solid ROI.
WHAT ABOUT MONEY? DO I HAVE TO SPEND?
Your return on investment can be enhanced significantly
when given an assist in the form of ad spend. A term formerly devoted to describing dollars set aside for television,
radio, newspaper, and magazine ads, ad spend is now
relevant to social media too, with thanks to the “
pay-to-play” format adopted by many social platforms.
You don’t have to spend money on social media, but it
could be just as effective as other forms of advertising when
it comes to ROI.
THE MOVE FROM ORGANIC TO PAID SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook originally provided automatic “organic reach.”
That is, most people who liked your practice’s Facebook
Page would see your posts. In 2012, however, Facebook’s
algorithm changed so that only around 16% of a Page’s
KRISTIE NATION is
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MANY DENTISTS are initially attracted to social media because they get the
impression that it is free. But nothing is really free, and it’s important to remember
that there are two forms of currency when it comes to marketing: time and money.
posts were seen by people who followed that Page, and in
2016, that figure dropped to a disappointing 2%. 3 Other
social platforms quickly adopted similar plans.
These updates were designed to push Page users to
depend on “paid reach” to get their content in front of
viewers. Most dental practices find a happy balance between content they publish for their existing fans, and
content created to reach potential patients.
Paid options, such as the option to “boost” a post to
reach a wider audience and the ability to create customized
ads that target specific demographics, help boost the signal
for both kinds of content.
THE BIGGEST SECRET TO SOCIAL IS VISUAL CONTENT
The best thing you can do for your practice when it comes
to social media is post visual content. A 2016 industry
report found 60% of marketers currently use video, and
73% plan to increase their use of video. 4 There are inexpensive ways to create and leverage this kind of content
using Instagram and Snapchat with a smartphone.
Video and other forms of visual content don’t have to
involve a massive commitment of time and money. There’s
no need to create flawless masterpieces of cinematic perfection; in fact, an engaging Facebook post can be created
in 10 minutes or less and used for either organic or paid
promotion of your practice. 5
The bottom line with social media for dental practices
is that investment is required for return—just like it is with
any other form of marketing.
1. Hanauer DA, Zheng K, Singer DC, Gebremariam A, Davis MM. Public
awareness, perception, and use of online physician rating sites.
JAMA . 2014;311( 7):734-735. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.283194.
2. Colaiacovo K. How much time should you spend on social media?
PepperItMarketing website. http://www.pepperitmarketing.com/
January 7, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017.
3. Bernazzani S. The decline of organic Facebook reach and how to
outsmart the algorithm. HubSpot website. https://blog.hubspot.
com/marketing/facebook-declining-organic-reach. Published April
12, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017.
4. Jackson D. 11 social media ideas for small businesses. SproutSocial
Published October 3, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.
5. Short on time? 5 quick Facebook ideas for dentists.
MySocialPractice website. http://mysocialpractice.com/2017/05/
May 18, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017.