Google has been the king of search for more than a decade, but the advent of social media has changed online behavior, and now search is about to change in a big way. This week Facebook announced Graph Search, which will allow people to search anything on Facebook and the user will get results based on their friends’ posts, photos, and videos. For example, someone will be able to enter “Chinese food in SoHo” and they will get an array of results: pictures of food friends took, comments friends made about restaurants in SoHo, places that their friends checked in, and even videos friends have made in or around the restaurant. Facebook already knows where most photos and videos were taken (because smartphones embed the location automatically), so it doesn’t have to be mentioned in the post. Click on the photo to get an idea what it will be like:
What seems inevitable is that it will also show Chinese restaurants with a large number of “likes” and customer posts. This will all have enormous implications for small businesses. I don’t think I have to tell you how social media has significantly altered human interaction, but let me give you just one amazing statistic: 28% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook before they get out of bed!
What does this new search development mean to you as a dental practice? It means you can no longer afford not to engage in social media, particularly Facebook. But there is an enormous upside to this. For a couple of years, dentists and office managers have been asking me what they should be posting on Facebook. They just can’t come up with something every week. Now what will matter more than anything is what your patients are posting on your page. So your efforts should be directed toward those actions.
It’s time to become well-liked
Even though Graph Search has not completely launched yet, now is when you have to start building up your patient “likes” and getting your patients to post about you. The easiest way is still to get some iPads or other tablets, which I explained in a previous post. The other easy step is to ask them to check in on Facebook when they get to your office using their smartphone. Many practices will find this much easier than asking a patient to review them or post a comment.
And more and more people are doing this check-in thing all the time, wherever they go. In fact, 65% of our Reputation Monitor clients already show that patients are checking in at their practice, even if they don’t have a Facebook business page. Reputation Monitor will also give you a dashboard where you can see how many people like you and any comments or posts they do.
Also, if you have digital communication software like Patient Activator, Demand Force or Revenue Well, you can send occasional emails to your patients, asking them to like your Facebook page. And if you have Patient Activator or our new website-building product WebDirector (yes, we now do websites for you!) we can help you set up your Facebook page and give you a consistent look. And your website should have a link to your Facebook page.
So spelled out simply, the steps are:
- Have a good Facebook business page
- Ask Patients to check-in when they come to the office
- Request Facebook posts, if they so choose
- Always respond to every post with an appreciative comment
- Email your patients to request likes and posts
- Update your website with all the proper links
It’s time to engage social media, and I think it may finally pay off with new patient flow. You want to be ahead of this curve, so that when Graph Search is fully launched you have a lot of content in your business page for Facebook to see.
Also, expect paid advertising to become an option in the future. Facebook does have to make money somehow. To see a bit more about how Facebook sees this working, click here: Graph search.
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This is totally awesome! Thank you so much. Can’t wait to see you next week January 24, Patterson Office, Concord, CA 5:30 p.m.!
See you there!
What do you mean by “check in”? How is this different from posting a comment? How could someone do this if a business doesn’t have a Facebook business page?
Facebook has virtually every business listed as a location, whether they have a business page or not, and individual FB users can even add a location themselves.
A person “checks in” using their smartphone, which knows its location and searches from businesses in the area. It’s a separate button that only shows up on a smartphone, and the person can just check in, showing on their own profile that they are there, or they can add a comment, photo or video.
Hope that helps, Kim!
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What if a majority of your patients don’t have a smart phone or find it too much to have to do yet another thing before coming in (after they’ve already confirmed). We get a lot of resistance. Is there a way to do it once they arrive on a computer at the front desk?
The increase in smartphone use is steady, with more than half the population already using one, and with universal texting and data plans, they will continue to be widely adapted. And even dumb phones get text messages. But you don’t need a majority participation. An active minority is plenty. A few comments on Facebook a week, and a few reviews on Google and Yelp are all you really need. Ideally more and more patients will start checking in on Facebook when they come into your office, but that’s phase two for you. Getting started is the key.
To respond to the second part of your question, they can only “check-in” to Facebook on their smartphones, but they can “like” your practice on an iPad or laptop that you provide by logging into Facebook as themselves. See this blog post for details.