Social Media Myths in Dentistry
As in any profession, there are a number of so-called social media “experts” in dentistry, touting that utilizing social media will send a flood of new patients lining up at your door. Can the use of social media be beneficial? Of course. Can heavy traffic to your Facebook page translate into increased clientele? Sure, to a certain extent. Is it a silver-bullet approach? Heck no.
I was inspired to write today due to a number of email notifications I received last week from a Dentaltown message board I subscribe to. I’m not going to mention names or specifics, but it was one of those “YOU HAVE TO DO SOCIAL MEDIA, OR ELSE!” posts that makes my blood boil.
I’m not a dentist, nor do I know everything about what makes a business successful. What I do have is the benefit of being engulfed in social media day in and day out, and have been able to test and refine many aspects of social media for a living. Being a social media marketing professional, I have to look objectively at dental professionals who use social media for business, to see the forest from the trees. With this outside perspective, I have the ability to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t.
The thoughts expressed in this post are purely my opinion, based on my experience with social media during the past few years. I welcome and encourage you to challenge anything I’m about to say, as there’s complete understanding on my end that experiences vary.
Myth #1: “YOU HAVE TO DO SOCIAL MEDIA, OR ELSE!”
Social media is the new shiny object everyone wants to get their hands on. Some businesses have had great success with social media, but to say you MUST use it is unjustifiable. I’m going to tell you right now there’s no reason for you to use it unless you’re a) committed and b) use it as an integrated supplement to other marketing tactics. You can very easily set up a Facebook page, but unless you make an effort to promote it and use it regularly, what’s the point? Are they both commitments you’re willing to make?
Myth #2: Social Media Builds Relationships
Yes, you may make connections on social media, but at some point you’re going to have to escape the digital world and actually build relationships. Relationships on social media tend to be very shallow. At the end of the day, face-to-face meetings will always be where real relationships are built and strengthened.
A patient may walk in your door based on something they saw on social media, but the future of your relationship with that patient is built within your office walls. Digital efforts or not, there’s no substitute for good customer service.
Myth #3: More Likes = More Success
I’d be lying if I said the number of “likes” you have isn’t important. I continue to track how many new likes our clients receive each month because more likes = more eyes on your content. What we lose sight of is the old-fashioned concept of quality vs. quantity. A dental practice can easily grow their number of likes, but are those people ever going to visit your practice? Do they even live in the area?
Don’t discount page visits. You also have to consider the online habits of some potential patients. They’re going to do a Google search, find your website, and then, if it’s available, they’ll fish for more personal information on your Facebook page. They may, at that point, decide based on something they see on Facebook that they want to visit your office, but that doesn’t always mean they’re going to click the “like” button. It’s not personal. A “like,” as trivial as it sounds, is a commitment that some… most… Facebook users don’t make very easily.
Social media isn’t for everyone, and what may work for one dental practice or manufacturer may fail miserably for another. Don’t be foolish enough to think people are out there on social media waiting for you to write your first Tweet, and don’t be disappointed when minimal activity occurs on your pages at first. It takes time to build a community and earn people’s attention.
I’ve been fortunate in my career to see solid connections being made and marketing campaigns greatly enhanced by including social media strategy in the mix. In the end, it’s not the tool or the medium that’s going to help you succeed; it’s the way you approach it.