You might not like it, but social media has changed the landscape forever. Even for a dental practice, social media has made a big impact in the way that other patients send referrals and engage with the practice.
For most of my life, “word-of-mouth” referrals have always been one of the most valuable tools for dental clients. They still are, but we must recognize that social media has displaced word-of-mouth marketing, and it is now one of the best ways to help patients hear about you and your practice.
Social Media Is a Good Thing. Embrace it.
We no longer need to wait for a patient to have a run-in with a relative and take the opportunity to talk about you. When someone is looking for a referral, they will either Google the problem or they will throw their need out into their social media network and see who turns up. We see this all the time, whether it’s for car repairs, restaurants, or even a dentist.
This means that your potential reach has expanded exponentially, as it has made a referral much easier to provide.
Social media is also smart, and you can get the potential jump in before a prospective patient ever needs to ask for a referral. Allow me to explain what I mean.
Once your patients have friended/followed your profiles, your practice will be suggested to their friends as well. This becomes more likely as you find more and more patients within a target demographic.
When patients check in at your practice, mention you in a post, or leave a review, their entire social circle can see that, and that exposure/vote of confidence costs you very little.
Our lives are entwined with our phones, applications, browsers, and social media. They all track our data. What does this mean for a dentist?
When your prospective patients are using search engines to investigate their sore tooth, learn about Invisalign, or simply find a dentist, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter usually know about it. This increases the likelihood that you’ll be recommended as a friend or that your paid ads will reach them on those platforms, and it will have a positive effect on your local search rankings.
Research indicates that 80 percent of users will look for health information online, and 75 percent will use social media to research their health symptoms. As many as 90 percent of users aged 18–24 trust referrals on social media as much as they do in person.
There is no doubt—your prospective patients will look for referrals via social media. The only question is, who will get that referral? Will it be you?
It’s called social media because it’s supposed to be social. It’s not enough to simply create a profile and never interact with it. If you are looking to attract and retain dental patients online, you must engage with those patients online.
For dental practices, social media (and word of mouth) provides the lowest acquisition cost of new patients. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard to determine the ROI of social media marketing, and it’s not always an easy thing to keep up with in a dental practice.
A social media strategy that is focused on community involvement, sharing great content, and informing prospective patients can set you up with a continuous stream of referrals for the foreseeable future. The new “word of mouth” can be one of the most efficient marketing tools in your arsenal if you use it wisely.