How Socially Connected is Your Practice?
The numbers are in and in case you missed it, as of mid-August, Facebook reported that some 40% of Americans visit the online social networking site daily. And nearly 80% use a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone to do so.
Certainly, there are many, many social media “channels” beyond Facebook. The last “official” count recorded nearly 200 sites, and there are likely more today. In addition to Facebook, there are websites, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Vine, and the list goes on and on and on. Why the explosion? With the Internet came the evolution of online communities and Internet forums. Human beings are social creatures, and we are drawn to these “social” sites.
While social media platforms abound, Facebook remains the most popular among your current and prospective patients. How popular? Facebook was the first social network to break the 1 Billion users mark. And many of these users are checking their Facebook newsfeed more often than they are brushing their teeth.
If you’re still thinking that Facebook is for kids, think again. They’ve moved on to other sites, such as Vine. Rather, Facebook has become the online gathering site for adults - the same decision-making-wage-earners that accept and pay for your treatment. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Pew American Life Project, adults have replaced teens as the primary users on Facebook. It is where families, friends and acquaintances gather to share news, photos, opinions, recommendations, and yes, a fair amount of useless information. Regardless of your personal feelings about Facebook, its content, or social media in general, this is where the customers are talking.
And the comments, recommendations or complaints that people share about products, services, brands, and local businesses carries weight. Just how much? According to Sesame Communications, nearly 50% of U.S. social media users say Facebook has the greatest influence on their purchasing behaviors. On the other side of that equation, a report released by HubSpot found that 41% of businesses that use Facebook acquire new clients through this social networking site.
There are multiple compelling facts and statistics that point to Facebook as an essential component for seemingly any small business marketing strategy, but what about dental practices? How much are they actually using Facebook in their practice marketing? A 2012 survey conducted by the Chicago Dental Society found that in 2012, 67% of dentists reported that their practices have a Facebook page, a full 50% more than in 2011.
Social media is what websites were years ago. Today, it’s practically unheard of for any legitimate business not to have a website. More and more, that same sentiment is being expressed with regard to a business’ social media presence. After all, when selling a product or a service, you have to take your wares to where the people gather. And in our ever busy, totally connected world, the people are gathering on social media sites.
But where do you begin? It all starts with your practice website. This is the cornerstone of your social media presence. “But Sally, why can’t I just create a Facebook page? I hear it’s all I need.” Facebook is simply one piece of the well-designed and effective marketing plan that includes an online presence that makes it easy for prospective patients to find you and your practice. It also creates a framework to establish meaningful dialog and build strong relationships with your existing patients.
“But Sally, who has time to do all this?” You don’t. You are running a small business and managing a team and making sure you are diagnosing and delivering dentistry to the patients in the chair. Nonetheless, you have to maintain a steady flow of new patients and create lasting relationships with existing patients so that they will return. This is where Sesame Communications comes in. They are setting an entirely new standard for effectively and affordably marketing dental practices using today’s digital marketing resources. They will ensure that your website is optimized. They will write and post your blog each week, and maintain your Facebook page. The best part, they have the research and the data to back up virtually every marketing recommendation they make for your practice.Next week, what effective social media marketing can do for your practice.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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