Have you ever looked up a local business’ reviews prior to using their services? Did the information that you read influence your decision in any way? Patients do that same thing when searching for a new dentist, which is why it’s important that your online reputation is impressive, memorable and inviting.

social media for dental practice

Social media has become a primary vehicle for marketing any business. Dental practices now use social media to attract new patients and retain them. While attracting and retaining patients, we must maintain relevance for our services and engage the desired audience we want to attract.

Posting quirky photos of office shenanigans might seem fun and lively; although this is accurate, it may not appeal to the type of patient you desire in your practice. Establish a balance between providing levity, dental facts, and engaging, informative content with the information posted. Your online presence must cover all demographics and be geared to your ideal patient. Many dentists have been slow to incorporate social media into their practices because of time and a perceived lack of ROI. 

As a business owner, we must look at social media from a bottom-up approach. What is the outcome you desire and what are the foundational pieces to help you achieve it? What do we need to do in order to get great reviews and ultimately build and protect our internet reputation? What you must realize is that using social media reaches more people than you realize. Here are a few staggering statistics:

  • Facebook has 1.13 billion daily active users. (Statista, 2016)
  • 72 percent of adult internet users use Facebook. (Pew Research Center, 2015)
  • 31 percent of adult internet users use Pinterest. (Pew Research Center, 2015)
  • Pinners are just as likely to purchase as users from other social channels, but spend 50 percent more on average compared to other social channels. They also spend 20 percent more than users referred from non-social channels, including search. (Pinterest, 2016)
  • Pinterest has 100 million monthly active users. (The New York Times, 2015)
  • 91 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews
  • 90 percent of consumers read 10 reviews or less before they feel that they can trust a business

This makes managing your online reputation imperative because reviews can send a prospective patient away before they ever even consider making the first phone call.

The best strategy to a great online reputation is to create a great experience from the first interaction and begin asking patients for testimonials. The testimonials can be posted across several social media platform simultaneously. Here are 10 tips for building an impressive online reputation:

  1. Create a social media presence for your business (Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, Pinterest®, LinkedIn®, Google Plus®, Blogger®)
  2. Ensure that your website is up-to-date, listing all social media links
  3. Use a tool that can help manage multiple social media networks with minimal efforts and cost (Hootesuite®, SocialOomph®, Sprout Social®, Everypost®)
  4. Post regularly to the social media platforms during times that your ideal patient will be viewing (schedule the posts accordingly)
  5. Educate on social media platforms about topics that will interest your ideal patient (beverage choices, impact of long term exposure to acids, sleep apnea, etc.)
  6. Monitor feedback and reviews regularly; like and reply in a timely manner
  7. Handle negative feedback immediately in a positive way

As a business owner, you want to avoid getting negative online reviews completely if possible! Let’s be realistic, there will be a time when you get a negative review - it’s bound to happen.

unhappy dental patient

Patients will periodically use the power of social media as a means of “communicating” about their appointment when they are not happy. Responding immediately in a positive manner is the best reaction. Things to remember:

  • Respond with acknowledging the reviewers’ experience, “thank you for providing your feedback. We work very hard to ensure that every patient is served with the best care possible.  Your experience and feedback is very important to us, and we will be contacting you immediately to personally discuss your experience.”
  • Do not engage in conversation through social media about an experience
  • Do not attempt to provide details to defend the practice.
  • Responding with a simple, “We look forward to having the opportunity to discuss your experience” shows that you are open to resolving the issue and you are professionally managing the conversation.
  • If you are unable to contact the patient, you can post that information as well: “we have attempted to contact the reviewer; unfortunately, our attempts have not been successful.”
  • If you reach the patient and resolve the situation, ask the patient to post an update to the review.

An impressive online reputation begins with building the presence, finding a simple way for a member(s) of your team to update/monitor with minimal effort and interacting with your audience in a positive way. For more information, reach out to your Spear Practice Solutions Consultant.  

References

Local Consumer Review Survey 2016 | The Impact Of Online Reviews. BrightLocal. https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/. Accessed September 29, 2017.