"I Googled you, and you are very involved!"
A nice comment from a new patient. He came into the office last week and told me all about what I do and what I am a part of in the community. He was aware of my school board participation and running in the upcoming election, as he was of my professional affiliations.
He was so aware -- asking me questions about projects that I am involved with in addition to his dental concerns. This was one informed patient. He was also told by his daughter (and obviously my website) that I loved the color purple, so his wife and he appeared in my office in matching purple outfits.
This is becoming more of the norm. Not patients arriving in outfits color-coordinated with our office décor, but checking us out on Google and other social media platforms before they visit us. Most referrals come from satisfied patients.
I am aware there are "rating" sites for dental practices sprouting up daily. Similar to Yelp or Trip Advisor, you read the reviews on these sites knowing that someone either had a bad experience or may have been friends of the owners. As professionals, we would not "seed" the review sites, but we do need to ask our patients to "like" us or write comments on our Facebook page.
If you are not involved in social media, it may be time to start thinking about becoming more active, as it is always good to be proactive and to be able to control your message. Setting up a Facebook page is easy.
I have been asked about a personal Facebook page as opposed to a professional page. If you maintain a personal page, consider creating a professional page. You may not want all of your patients to see where you were on vacation ("Doc really doesn't need any more money -- look at all the vacations he goes on") or your new car. The message is always better to be dentally driven. They will want to know where you attended a continuing education conference on the latest and greatest technology.
One other consideration would be to set up a Google+ page for your practice. It can list your hours, phone numbers, and so on, and it is essentially free advertising. You will need to sign up for a Google Gmail account, but that is easy to do.
Now, while creating these sites is simple, maintaining them may be difficult. Depending on your personal schedule specifically or your commitment to social media in general, you may need to delegate these functions to a team member. Remember, the millennials are awesome at social media, and they may have some great ideas to promote your practice.
What should you post to social media? Here are a few quick and easy topics:
- Highlight any participation your office had during Children's Dental Health Month.
- Post any dentally related articles that you find interesting, like this one from Redbook.
- Share happy patient comments via a quick video taken from your smartphone.
- Reminding people to floss is always good!
In this world of social "popularity," it is good to ask your patients to "like" you on the different social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Swarm (a spin-off app to Foursquare), and so on. You also have the ability to send out notifications to your personal Facebook friends to "like" your professional page. It will also allow your friends to see what you are doing in the "office."
Also, ask patients to write reviews. It is always a leap of faith to ask patients to write something, especially since you have no control of what (or if) they write. The way to have more control would be to create the short videos of happy patients commenting. Those may be posted on your Facebook page or on YouTube. This is easily delegated to your team.
So, when your next patient comes in with information gleaned from Google, be ready. It is always great to have positive information about you out there. A happy patient will tell his or her friends and relatives, and which can lead to more Google searches from potential new patients.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She is currently vice president and president-elect of the American Association of Women Dentists and editor of the American Association of Women Dentists "Chronicle" newsletter. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.