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I know. You’d rather not have to worry about social media. You’ve practiced without it for years so why start thinking about it now? There’s a simple answer: because the statistics are staggering.
As of this writing, 96 percent of those born between 1977 and 1997 have joined a social network. Facebook added more than 200 million users in less than one year, and 56 million women use Facebook on a regular basis. According to the Nielsen Global Group, two out of three people visit social networks. Of those surveyed, 70 percent said that they trust consumer opinions posted online.
These statistics, combined with the fact that 90 percent of adult women in the United State are responsible for healthcare decisions (including dental) for themselves and their spouses/significant others, children and/or adult relatives (according to the American Academy of Family Physicians), add up to many compelling reasons to consider social media activity for your practice. Here’s how to proceed:
Identify your goals. Do you want to add new patients to the practice? Provide educational information about dental procedures? It’s easier to develop a successful social media plan if you know what it is you hope to achieve.
Pace yourself. Since it’s overwhelming to consider the entire social media universe, consider a phased-in approach for your efforts. Maybe you’ll start with a Facebook profile, followed by daily Twitter tweets and eventually a blog that you’ll post to once a week. Setting a realistic pace will decrease stress and the chances you’ll burn out on social media before you’ve really even gotten started!
Identify a team leader for your social media efforts. If you have younger individuals on staff, chances are you have someone in house who is capable of stabling your social media presence. Some dentists prefer not to have staff spend time on social media, however, and prefer to outsource the responsibility. There are many firms that can do this.
Consider outsourcing. I personally have benefited from teaming with dental students for some of my communication needs. One had experience with podcasts while another mastered presentation software I wanted to use. Both were thrilled to earn a little extra money while assisting me.
Automate what you can. There are tools that link social media together so that you don’t have to individually manage each site. A notice can automatically appear on Facebook each time you update your blog, and tweets can be posted ahead of time and scheduled for sending at a later date.
Get in the habit. Social media can take less than 10 minutes a day — especially if you make it a habit and stay up to date with posts. Practice writing short, benefit-oriented articles designed to showcase your expertise.
Sign up for Google Alerts. You can create automatic alerts at www.google.com/alerts to notify you when your name appears online. This is an excellent way to monitor what patients are saying about you. You can also set alerts for any topic you’re interested in monitoring such as whitening, tongue piercing, or implants. Monitoring breaking news is a good way to provide ideas for tweets, blogs and Facebook posts in order to keep you both current and relevant.
Social media is here to stay. Using the above tips, you can easily create your own presence online.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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