By Jill Townsend, for Amy Smith Consulting, LLC
Facebook is the most popular social networking site today, with more than 400 million -- and growing -- registered users. This is good news for you and your practice because it means many of your existing (and potential) patients are already there. In terms of your online presence and visibility, Facebook and other social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn now compete on an almost equal basis with your website for Google visibility, ie the factors that Google considers when ranking your practice highly for a particular keyword or phrase.
And, of course, Facebook is ‘free’, other than the time it takes you or a member of your staff or marketing team to make wall posts – which is where many practices get ‘stuck’. What do we say? What can we talk about this week? Will our patients think we’re trying to sell them something? Will we annoy them?
If this sounds familiar to you, take heart. The list below will help. The most important thing to remember is that each post you make doesn’t have to be ‘profound.’ Patients and prospective patients are, first and foremost, people. Talk to them as you would a friend. Include them in your posts by asking questions, or encouraging feedback. Try to make at least 2 wall posts per week.
No. 1: Patient of the Day/Week
Everyone is interested in other people. Look for patients who:
- Have recently finished treatment and would be willing to share their story.
- Just returned from a fun vacation, or training course.
- Are long-time patients you simply want to acknowledge and thank.
Are someone fun you look forward to seeing walk through the door. Example: “We saw Wendy, one of our favorite patients, today. Wendy has a beautiful smile and she uses it a lot!
No. 2: Be encouraging
Everyone thinks or worries about their dental or oral health at some point in their lives, whatever the reason. Simple words of encouragement go a long way.
Example: “Is there something about your smile you would like to change? If so, please contact our office to ask questions or schedule an appointment. That’s what we’re here for.”
No. 3: Ask a question
Questions encourage interaction and involvement.
Example: “What is the tooth fairy paying in your house these days? What did you get as a child?” If you do get responses – and you will – don’t forget to acknowledge them.
No. 4: Ask for feedback
Ask your patients for ideas on ways you can make your practice even better than it already is. (Many practices avoid doing this for fear of the 1-in-a-1000 negative response, which is a mistake. In the unlikely event you do get a negative response, this provides a great opportunity to respond in a professional and caring manner. Other patients will note and appreciate this. (And don’t forget, you have the ability to remove posts from your wall if warranted.)
Example: What can we do to make your visits to our office the best and most comfortable they can be?”
No. 5: Highlight your CE
Have you or your staff been to a seminar or workshop or conference lately? What did you learn? Talk about new treatments or techniques you’ll be incorporating into your practice. Blow your own horn a little!
Example: Dr. Smith just returned from an advanced course in (name of treatment or procedure). If you have questions, please post them here!”
No. 6: Remember the simple things
As mentioned earlier, not every post has to be profound, or even about dentistry. Maybe you have new furniture in your reception area, or received a bouquet of flowers from a grateful patient. Ideas are everywhere if you take a few minutes to look for them.
Example: “The Magnolia tree outside our front door is in full bloom and it is beautiful!” (Yes, you do need to include a photo.)
No. 7: Giveaways, contests
Many practices have contests or giveaways without considering what a perfect opportunity they are to post on your Facebook page, as well as your website. The ‘pay offs’ don’t have to be large.
Example: “Stop by our office and enter our Thanksgiving drawing for a $25 gift certificate to (local store). The lucky winner will be drawn on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.” Then remember to post the lucky winner’s name and photo*, of course.
No. 8: Holidays
Most months include a holiday of some kind. Use these days as ways to remind, or thank, patients in some way.
Example: “We’d like to take the opportunity on this Veteran’s Day to recognize all the service men and women -- many of whom are our patients -- who have defended our freedom, our families, and our way of life. If you know someone we should thank, please tell us about them.”
No. 9: Community involvement
Chances are almost 100% that you or a member of your team are involved in your community in some way. Maybe you volunteer somewhere, or participate in walks or runs to raise money for charity. Whatever it is, talk about it on your wall -- before, during and after the event.
Example: Volunteers collected over 1000 items of dried goods and non-perishable food items for the local food drive this weekend. Our assistant, Laurie, was one of them. Well done, Laurie!
No. 10: Staff/Team News (personal as well as professional)
Has someone in your practice been given a promotion, or taken on new responsibilities? Have they reached a milestone of some kind in their personal life? (A 25th wedding anniversary, for instance, or an achievement in a favorite hobby.) Even though your Facebook page is considered a ‘business’ page, you can and should include personal information when it is appropriate.
Example: “Congratulations to our hygienist, Lisa, who participated in a 5K run on Saturday to raise money for (name of charity).”
No. 11: Photos/Videos
People love to look at other people even more than they like to read about other people. Buy a digital camera with video capability for your office and take every opportunity to use it. Videos don’t have to be long or professionally-produced. Ask a happy patient to video a thank you to your doctor and/or staff. Ask your doctor to thank patients for their loyalty and commitment to oral health, or to discuss any other topic on which they feel passionate or committed. Look for ‘photo ops’.
True life example: One day in Dr. Smith’s reception area there happened to be two patients, both named Isabelle. One was 90 years old and wearing a purple dress. The other was 2 years old and wearing a purple dress. What a great photo! You may not get that lucky, but the opportunities will be there, so be prepared.
No. 12: Help us celebrate…
Everyone enjoys being wished a happy birthday, or anniversary, or being congratulated on a personal achievement. Don’t miss out on this simple opportunity to engage with your patients.
Example: “On behalf of Dr. Smith and our entire team, we want to congratulate our patient and friend Kelly on her graduation from (name it) school. Well done, Kelly!”
No. 13: Hobbies
Yours and your patients’. Maybe one of your patients likes rock climbing, or bungee jumping. Someone in your practice may also have a fun or unusual hobby. If so, talk about them. Ask questions.
Example: We saw a patient today who said her favorite hobby was making jewelry from rocks she and her husband collect all over the tri-state area. If you have a fun or favorite hobby, please share it with us.
14: B&A photos*
Great dentistry is, after all, what you are all about. Highlight your skills with before and after photos, preferably showing the patient’s full face, as well as a few clinical photos. (Not too many, and not too graphic.)
Example: “Six months ago Julie came to our office for the first time and said she wasn’t happy with her smile and wanted to do something about it before her sister’s wedding. Congratulations, Julie, on your beautiful and healthy new smile.”
No. 15: Quizzes/Did you know…?
It’s hard for most of us to resist participating when we read a headline that says, “Take this quiz and find out if you …” or “Did you know that…” Use this to your advantage on your Facebook page and promote good oral health at the same time.
Example: “Quiz: 7 factors that increase your odds of developing oral cancer. Are you at risk?”
Example: Did you know… playing an instrument could negatively impact your child’s oral health?”
No. 16: New products or services
Just like in any industry, the world of dentistry and oral health is constantly evolving. Make sure your patients know what is new or improved in your practice. Perhaps it’s new equipment, or a new service. Tell them how this will benefit them and their families.
Example: We recently added a new digital machine to our practice that will make taking x-rays even faster and more comfortable than before!”
That’s it! 16 easy and fun ideas for Facebook wall posts for your practice!
*A note about photos and videos: You can and should use photos and videos as often as possible on your Facebook page, however you must remember to get written permission from your patients before doing so. Click here for a Sample Photographic Likeness Consent Form. Check with the appropriate professional advisors before using in your practice.