At Dental Connections our objective is quite simple: to help you grow your practice.

And one of the best ways to do that is through the intelligent use of social media.

Like it or love it, with 32.5 million Facebook users in the UK (and rising) social media is now an integral part of modern life.

In the past when it came to local marketing, small businesses used to be able to get away with just sticking an ad in the local paper or yellow pages and waiting for the phone to ring…

Then with the advent of the internet, everyone was forced to upgrade to websites and email…

Now we’re in the age of social media where we need to be easily-findable in a number of different places online… And that requires time and effort if it’s to be done right…

In return we get the opportunity to help our prospects know, like and trust us before they even come in for a chat.

They might even help introduce us to their family and friends by sharing our content online…

So, there are a lot of opportunities available to build your business on social media but it needs to be done right.

Here are the most common ways dentists fail to make social media work for them:

1. Using only Facebook

Facebook is a must for dentists but other social networks are huge, too:

* Twitter has an estimated 20 million users in the UK who can Like and share your content.

* Instagram has an estimated 17 million UK users

* Pinterest has 10.3 million visits from the UK

* And, according to Google, 22% of online adults visit Google + at least once a month…

It’s often said that it takes 7 “touches” before someone becomes a client (a touch includes such things as seeing your ads, visiting your website, reading your blog, walking past your practice, etc) – so why not use some more of these social networks to make sure you’re findable everywhere?

You can even save time by using the same content across multiple channels – all you need to do is post…

2. Posting only promotional content

There’s a well-known expression in sales and marketing: “Everyone likes to buy, but no-one likes to be sold.”

That’s true on social media, too (and it’s important to note the word “social” there!)

While people will forgive – or may even welcome – special offers from time-to-time, no-one wants to be bludgeoned over the head with marketing messages day-after-day…

The best way to do things is to think of the people who see your posts as people (!) and to try to help them by providing useful content that they’re interested in…

That way they’ll get the impression that you don’t just see them as walking pound signs and they’ll also be that much more receptive when you do post a special offer…

3. Making it 100% dental

So in #2 (above) I just mentioned the importance of posting things that people are interested in…

And while people are generally interested in their health and appearance, there’s only so much brushing advice one can take!

There’s no rule that says you have to post only dental content: you can share what’s going on in your practice, local news, health tips, staff birthdays/weddings/holiday snaps, etc, etc, etc.

Look around at what popular dental practice pages are posting and take a leaf out of their book.

4. Not posting often enough

When I look around on Facebook, etc, I see a lot of deserted dental practice pages…

It seems that a lot of dentists – hearing Facebook was great for local business – started up pages in droves, only to give up when they failed to see much of a response (often because they were making the mistake of just posting ads and offers.)

To get the most out of Facebook and other social networks you’ll need to keep your profile active by posting often (we recommend once a day).

5. Outsourcing 100% of your social media

Outsourcing your social media is a good idea if you or your staff don’t have time to create or find content to post once a day.

That said, it’s really important in all your marketing that you give prospective patients a sense of who you are, what you stand for and what it’d be like to come in for treatment. You can’t do that with generic content.

We had a client once who – despite constant requests – wouldn’t provide us with anything unique to post – no staff pictures, no before and after shots, no news about the practice, nothing…

The result was an account that, although it had regularly-posted content, could have belonged to any practice in the country.

If you do outsource your social media it’s essential that you either A. provide your marketing team with enough content to show what’s unique about your practice, or B. supplement their posts with regular posts of your own.

6. Not checking your Facebook messages

Facebook has its own in-built messaging system and we see enquiries and bookings coming in this way all the time…

Facebook also rates your responsiveness to messages on your page so it’s important that people see you take the time to check and deal with your messages on a timely basis. So, take 30 seconds to check your Facebook page a few times each day and you’ll be on top of it and able to convert thoses enquiries into paying patients.

7. Not getting any interaction

Social media comes into its own as a way of opening up a dialogue and building a connection with prospective patients.

But all too often we see a kind of one-way blast of news, shared stories and promotions… How’s that going to create connection?

The secret to building a relationship with your prospects (as with all aspects of your marketing and sales) is to make it more about them than it is about you…

Increase interaction by:

> Asking questions: what do you think? Have you ever tried this? Do you prefer A or B?

> Keeping it fun

> Sharing an inside look at your practice

> Using contests and giveaways: competitions get people excited and when they’re excited they’ll share your content with other people – that’s how things go viral

Follow the advice in this post and you’ll be well on your way to building up a sizeable following of local prospects and patients – and a steady source of leads and referrals at the same time!

To find out how we can help turn your social media into a constant source of new business, have a look at our social media services.