Prioritizing Your Social Media Activities

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.Like-Button

#1. Facebook

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.

#2. Google+

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.

#3. YouTube

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.

#4. Twitter

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.

#5. LInkedIn

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.

#6. Instagram

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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13 thoughts on “Prioritizing Your Social Media Activities

    • Alan, I think a blog is critical for SEO, but I don’t technically consider it social media, which is why I didn’t list it. But I recommend writing a blog weekly, two short paragraphs, two sentences each, on more clinical aspects of dentistry. Don’t assume anyone but Google, Bing and Yahoo are going to read it.

  1. One addition to Facebook is getting Recommendations, as people are treating these like social reviews, and is very important in your Facebook strategy.I think since the younger crowd is exploding on twitter, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to suggest to your younger patients to tweet the appointment.I’ve got all my dental clients heavily into youtube with FAQ videos, as well as testimonials.

  2. Great post, Fred. However, I must take strong exception to your idea that nobody reads blog posts except Google, Bing, and Yahoo—and, that a blog in only critical for SEO.

    In my opinion, a good blog is the foundation and the absolute focal point (the “hub”) of a strong social media marketing strategy. And while Facebook is also critical for success, Facebook is merely an outpost (or “spoke”) in a broader social media platform.

    A relevant, thoughtful blog is still the hub.

    I am sure you would agree that blogging for SEO is the polar opposite of blogging for patients. They are two completely different animals. The strategies for each MUST remain independent of one another. However, to suggest that a blog is not part of social media is completely outside the experience I have had, having worked with hundreds and hundreds of dental practices on their social media strategies and blogs.

  3. Hi Fred. As I reread my comment above this morning I felt like it sounded harsh. I’m sorry. It wasn’t intended to sound that way. I guess that’s the drawback of quickly written text. I enjoyed your post very much and you have a tremendous grasp on social media strategy in dental practices. Thanks for your kind comment about me. I have equally great respect for you.

    I think your prioritizing suggestions are spot on. In terms of consistent, day-to-day focus there’s no better place for a dental practice than Facebook. It’s probably the fastest, most effective way to develop patient engagement and top-of-mind awareness during the earliest phases of a practice’s plan. Hence, it probably deserves position #1 on your list.

    And, I think you’re right about G+ too. It has very different objectives, with different tactics, but deserves to be high on the priority list.

    My point was, in terms of longer focus, a well-written, personalized blog allows a practice to build a community over which they will always have control. If practices, over time, can get their patient bases to subscribe to and read their blog content (by making it relevant, interesting, and valuable) they’re no longer dependent on things which are outside their control—like Facebook EdgeRank.

    Thanks for YOUR valuable blog content and insights. I appreciate and admire all the things you do to help the dental profession with marketing.

    • No need to apologize, Jack. I welcome the counterpoint. I believe that there are several successful avenues into social media, and if someone is willing to write a good blog on a regular basis that could certainly be the cornerstone of their strategy. I find most practices are really just starting to engage effectively, and need a roadmap not to waste too much time.

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  5. Great article. I’ll throw my 2¢ in. Social media is, no doubt, a potentially important piece of the online marketing puzzle. My “raison d’etre” for my crusade is that dentists using social media treat it the same way as they do their websites. They delegate the job.

    Social media is SOCIAL. That means YOU have to show up! And, be yourself! There’s an entire industry now that will “do social media” on BEHALF of dentists (writing big checks). It’s like sending a proxy to a party on your behalf and expecting the host to believe you were there. Third party representatives posting generic canned content and silly platitudes on your behalf just won’t cut it, in my opinion.

    As for blogging, the same applies. I’ve honestly been a bit derelict in my duties when it comes to blogging for my dental practice. I do it sporadically. I need to do it more. My other blog, aimed at an audience of dentists keeps me fairly busy. And, I dare say it stands as proof of blogging as “social media.” It gets read by far more than just Google and Yahoo. I’m averaging 5,000 unique visitors a month after only 2-1/2 years of it being online… and it continues to grow. Not bad for a one-man dental show.

    Blogging, like other social media, takes EFFORT. It takes TIME.

    My suggestion here applies to any sort of social media. It addresses the frequent question: “What can I write about?” Of course, there are the usual “dental care tips.” But, honestly, that’s boring. I recommend staying alert for ANYTHING in the media about dentistry.

    When Dr. Oz starts babbling bullshit about x-rays, THAT’S your opportunity! When Whoopi Goldberg goes on her show and talks about her brush with a severe perio infection… THAT’S opportunity. When Christina Applegate tells Jay Leno about her dental emergency and how she Googled for a dentist… THAT’S opportunity! Seize it!

  6. The comment section only shows so much of a comment, apparently. My longish comment has the last paragraph cut off. But, if you click on the comment “number,” it shows the whole comment.

I welcome your comments--don't pull any punches!