"A lot of doctors out there are spending thousands on mailings, radio, Yellow Pages, and print ads, but they are not getting the same return that they used to," said Jason Lipscomb, DDS, who writes a blog about social media and is the author of Social Media for Dentists. "There has to be a better way to get the message out there. That's where social media and search engine marketing comes in."
Most people are searching for dentists on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, not the Yellow Pages anymore, he added.
“There has to be a better way to get the message out there.”
— Jason Lipscomb, DDS
"Yellow Pages are dead," agreed Martin Jablow, DMD, in his presentation. "I didn't say it, CNBC said it. Why? They are expensive. In order to cover my territory, I had to be in three different books and it cost me thousands of dollars a month. But it's been over a decade since I ran any kind of Yellow Pages ad."
Instead, he turned to building a Web page that not only promotes his practice but helps boost his profile on Google and other search engines.
This approach to Internet marketing is key, Dr. Lipscomb noted. "If you are going to build a website, you need to think about statistics," he said. "Most dentists talk about their practice, their staff, their credentials, etc. But people who are searching for your site are moms, and they are not all that interested in all that other stuff."
Moms make 90% of dental appointments and are most likely to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, he added.
In fact, with 500 million people now on Facebook and people averaging 6.5 hours a week using Facebook, building a following is critical, both Dr. Lipscomb and Dr. Jablow said.
"Using your Facebook real estate is one of the biggest things you can do right now," Dr. Lipscomb said. He recommends creating a custom Facebook page, creating a community on Facebook, and investing in targeted Facebook ads.
"You want to let people in your office and on your website and in real-world settings that you are on Facebook," he said. "You need to spread the word."
But using Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Groupon, Living Social, CitySearch, and other social media for marketing requires an ongoing investment -- of time, not money, Dr. Jablow cautioned.
"You can't create content once and forget about it. You have to stay part of it," he said. "You have to make sure the content is always fresh. And that takes a lot of work -- it's not 'set it and forget it.' You or someone in your office has to manage your social media."
And the numbers have to add up, Dr. Jablow emphasized. "The ROI has to make sense," he said. "If you only have 15 people following you on Twitter for your office, is it worth putting time into it every day? Probably not -- it takes managing, content, and time."