We follow our friends and family members on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s happening in their lives, and we follow our favourite brands and stores to see what’s new and what’s on sale. So what do patients expect when they follow their dentist on Facebook?
Patients are choosing to “like” their dental practice’s Facebook page in record numbers because dentists are offering relevant information in real time. Instead of forgetting about their dentist until their next appointment, patients are saying “yes” to weekly or even daily updates.
Logistical information: What can you tell your patients online that will make their next in-office appointment easier? How about reminding patients that you’re now open on Saturdays, or that you’re now offering early-morning appointments twice a week? Or maybe there’s brutal traffic in the area because of a big construction project, and you could remind patients to take South Street instead of Queen Street? Think about the kind of information you’d print out and tape to your reception desk, and start from there.
Personal connections: If a patient has healthy teeth and breezes through their visits every six months, they probably only see you for about 5-10 minutes a year – and that’s not much time to build a connection. When a patient doesn’t feel particularly tied to their dentist, what’s to stop them from switching to the new practice that just opened up across town? Remind your patients about their friends at the practice by sharing posts and photos with a fun, friendly tone. Grab a quick photo to document an office birthday celebration, an employee visiting with their new baby, a holiday party, or a lighthearted moment on a Friday afternoon. People are naturally drawn to places where the employees are cheerful and committed to their jobs. If you show them why you’re all happy to be there, you remind them they want to be there, too.
Community ties: Let your patients know your practice is committed to giving back to the community. One of the easiest ways to get a post “shared” is to include a picture of plenty of people. If your practice sponsors a hockey team or a ballet studio in town, let everybody know – and share a picture of those cute kids posing together. Tag the name of the team or organization (if they’re on Facebook) and they’ll usually end up sharing your photo, and so will many of the parents who spot it in their newsfeed. (“Here’s Jessie with her hockey team. She’s having a great year on the ABC Dental Wildcats!”) Your Facebook page may even gain “likes” from people who aren’t yet patients, because they’re impressed you support their child’s team or organization.
Interesting tidbits: Facebook is where people go to share things they’ve found interesting – whether it’s a breaking news story or a funny cartoon – and that makes it an excellent place for you to share relevant dental information. No, your patients don’t care about a new development in root planing, but they’d probably like to read about a neat new flossing technique that could improve their hygiene, or an interesting article about how celebrity smiles have changed over the years.
Promotions and contests: Running a special this month on teeth whitening? Share it with your Facebook fans and invite them to come in for a consultation. Trying to build up your number of Facebook “likes”? Consider telling your fans they will be entered into a draw for free movie passes or a restaurant gift card. Of course, depending on your area’s dental association or college, you may not be allowed to hold contests. But you can still write posts about the kind of services you offer, and why people may want to consider a particular treatment. Sometimes patients have no idea that you offer dental implants or cosmetic dentistry, and they’re very interested when they learn it’s available.-------
Every time a new person “likes” your practice’s Facebook page, they’re telling you that they’re interested in hearing what you have to say. Take that responsibility seriously by providing your patients with information that will make their life a little easier, strengthen your connection with them, teach them something new, or make them smile.
If only everything in our newsfeed could be so valuable!