The most common question I’m asked when lecturing now is, “Which site is the most important to focus on in social media?” So what I’m going to do is tell you in order how you should spend your time. Let’s assume that you’ve figured out that social media is not a fad, and it is changing how society interacts, and also how they choose many of the products and services that they use. Bear in mind also that these are my personal observations, and other social media mavens may tell you otherwise. But the biggest mistake will be doing nothing.
No surprise here. This should be an integral part of your practice. You should be asking your patients to “check-in” on Facebook when they come to your office (they do this on their smartphones), to “Like” your practice page and, if they feel like it, to post a picture, video or comment. Your posts should be personal, not clinical, and frequent, ideally daily. And you should always comment on any post a patient makes. Facebook is already the most important social site, but will become more so. Read my blog on Facebook Graph Search if you want to know why.
This may seem surprising, as it doesn’t have even a fraction of the activity that Facebook does. But what matters is that Google is looking at your posts, and it will increase the SEO of your website because of this activity. I recommend duplicating everything you post on Facebook on Google+, slightly modifying some of the language. In fact, if you post there first, and then post on Facebook, it gives you a bit more Google juice. Google is jealous like that.
YouTube is massively searched by people, and we are becoming a species that would much rather watch a video than read something. Every video that you make should show up on YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and your website. Don’t forget that YouTube is owned by Google. You must tag your videos properly on YouTube, with the dentist’s name, the practice, name and whatever else the video is about. A previous blog of mine explains how to make video a habit in your practice. Post something weekly, at the very least. It doesn’t have to be brilliant or well shot. Patient testimonials shot with your phone are more credible than professional looking ones. Go figure.
While I consider this a full tier below the previous three, is it easy to be active on, because what you post is so short. Some folks will tell you that Twitter can be very effective in your practice for alerting patients of openings in your schedule, and I agree, if you’ve managed to get most of your patients to follow you on Twitter. But that process takes a lot of time, and I think it might be better spent on the first three sites. You can use a site like Hootsuite to coordinate posts in several places at once, but do not replicate the content everywhere, because if it is exactly the same then you lose the Google juice.
I recommend posting on Twitter primarily for its SEO value. Pictures can also be posted there, as well as video, and if you write a blog you should alert people on Twitter each time you post.
This is another tier down from the top four. You should not expect to get patients from this. Mostly you will get solicitations from other businesses. But it has some SEO value, so create your profile and post occasionally.
This app is very widely used, and is owned by Facebook. It will require someone in your office who knows how to use it, and you can make interesting photos of your patients, particularly before-and-after shots. (Do I need to remind you to get releases from your patients for all photo and video? OK, I just did.)
#7. Pinterest, FourSquare and all the rest
Right now I would consider these almost completely ineffective for real SEO or patient attraction. They have specific industries that they serve well, but I don’t see dentistry as one of them. You will find some practices taking advantage of one or two of them, particularly Pinterest, which has a very high amount of user activity, but for the most part your energy should be spent elsewhere.
Step one is to create accounts everywhere. If you’re a Patient Activator client we will help you get all those accounts set up, and if you’re a WebDirector client we can carry the same design look through all of these sites. Then focus on the first two (since they are essentially the same posts) and work your way down once you have mastered them. And make social media part of someone’s job in the practice, 15 to 30 minutes a day–not the dentist! Her time is best spent doing dentistry!
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