When you do a quick Google search of “dentists and social media” there are pages of links, but few helpful examples about how individuals in this profession can take advantage of online tools. Perhaps one of the quirkiest results is David After Dentist (DAD), which features a full-blown site dedicated to the famous boy whose dad caught his post-surgery loopy behaviour on camera and shared it online to millions of chuckling viewers.
Although the DAD destination isn’t an example of the state of the dental community online, there are a few things its creators have done right to leverage the power of social media. From a dedicated blog to a Twitter feed to YouTube videos to t-shirt sales, the site is a good model of how to weave together multiple web tools to build an audience.
For dentists looking to build relationships with clients, here are five “Power Friending” tips to get your social media efforts on track.
1. Get up close and personal
While you might not be comfortable sharing details of your life, social media works best when your community considers you an online friend. In other words, share photos on your website and social networking accounts. These pictures should include moments from your professional experience, but they should also present a window into your personality.
2. Tweet it up
Although many of your clients may not yet be on Twitter, the community there is growing and it’s a great tool for anyone to get free access to an immediate stream of information from your practice. Whether your office is closing early for the day or you want to post a quick piece of information about dental news, use Twitter to broadcast tool but also to have ongoing conversations with existing and potential clients.
3. Offer expert advice
Many people only make it out to the dentist once or twice a year, but oral hygiene is a daily responsibility. Start up a blog where you can offer practical advice to your clients, from accurate information about teeth whitening to the best way to get your children into a good brushing routine. If you’re struggling for content ideas on a regular basis, consider posting a short tip a day, which doesn’t have to be more than a couple of sentences (and can then be shared on Facebook and Twitter).
4. Find fans on Facebook
Every dentist should have a Facebook page where he or she can connect with clients. Not only will this allow for personal and private messages, but it’s also a great destination to post contact information about your clinic and get recommendations that can then be easily shared with new clients on the world’s number one social networking site.
5. Make a great digital homebase
Although it’s critical to participate on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and maybe even Foursquare if you want people to check in at your clinic (this will also allow you to offer them discounts), make sure that you have one key destination online where all your web activity lives – your website. Using a service such as Squarespace, a site-building tool that costs as little as $8 a month, you can develop a Web 2.0 property that includes a blog and features links to all your social media feeds and accounts.
Once you get your social media strategy up and running, you might also want to considering booking appointments through these multiple avenues and inviting your clients to participate in this brave new world. Finally, remember to post some signage within your office to inform visitors about how they can use these digital platforms to develop a relationship with you that goes beyond their regular appointments.