To Post or Not to Post… What’s all the hype about social media?

Everyone seems to be posting, tweeting, instagramming, or watching the latest cute cat video on YouTube. We live in an extremely connected world these days and it seems no matter where you go if you look around everyone is most likely going be looking at some sort of social media site. The amount of time spent on social media continues to increase. At this day and age, roughly 80% of the population is engaging in one or more social media platforms. So, the question keeps coming up by offices…. should I be posting, tweeting, instagramming, or creating YouTube videos for my practice?

The short answer is yes. Social media platforms are not going anywhere anytime soon, in fact younger generations are engaging in social media even sooner, thus instilling the urge to ‘be online’ as a normal part of their daily routine. However, don’t make the fatal mistake many of us do and assume social media is only for young people. Grandma and grandpa are highly engaged in it as well, as a tool used to stay connected with the grandkids and other family members.

So, how can posting on social media help my practice? First of all, you have to understand that social media has its own language and its own sort of ‘genetic code,’ if you will. Facebook for example has a specific algorithm it uses that influences the success of your posting so to speak. Meaning it will look more favorably and push your content out to more viewers if Facebook feels the posts are engaging, as opposed to just getting the typical ‘Like’ or thumbs up. Our goal when posting should always be to try to engage our audience as often as we can. This can easily be done by creating some occasional office related trivia, such as posting an informal and fun picture of doctor holding up a giant toothbrush and a dentiform of some big pearly whites, with a caption that reads, “Do you know what’s so special about the month of February?” Then you could have multiple choice answers or leave it open-ended.

Next you need to have a call to action so that the post continues to increase and attract activity, remember our goal is to create majority of our posts to be interactive and engaging; something beyond the typical ‘like’. So, with our example of the post above, let’s take it a step further and add in the call-to-action step. This can easily be done by simply asking viewers to comment with their answer to our question and share the post. Sometimes, you might think about having a giveaway or prize associated with the post as well. This could include drawing a name from those that got the answer correct to win an electric toothbrush that they would come into the clinic to pick up.

Images are crucial to capturing your audiences! Today people have attention spans of fewer than 10 seconds, less than that of a goldfish. Our brains can recognize a commonly seen object in only 100 milliseconds, this makes using images a no-brainer in a world of short attention spans. Using Facebook as an example again, we know that a post will generate a lot more views or get more ‘face time’ if we use an image alongside our content. To take that a step further, our post will be even more engaging if we take our own candid picture. This could be as simple as a picture of the inside of our office, a new piece of equipment, our new sign, or of our team and their pearly whites. Choosing to use a unique image that we have captured, as opposed to a stock image we found online, can work leaps and bounds for us online. Not to mention, many stock images are copyrighted, and you can be slapped with a serious fine if caught using them. Facebook will push a post with an original picture through to more audiences than a stock image found online. Plus, people are very visual, we like images to look at and perfect teeth!

Don’t hesitate to have fun with the posts. Although we are professionals, people, including our patients, can relate to humor. I guarantee that a post such as doctor getting a pie in the face on his or her birthday with some funny caption asking everyone to guess how old doctor is turning, will generate more activity then a post just saying, “Call us today to schedule your appointment. We accept all insurances.” That was about as generic and uninviting as it gets. Don’t be generic, be engaging! We’re all overscheduled and overworked, we tend to use social media to escape the daily grind, the last thing we want is to see another boring advertisement for teeth whitening.

To coincide with the importance of the visual component of a post, its also a good idea to go live. Yes, I said it, live and unscripted. Sound scary? While the first live video may be a learning moment, they will get easier, I promise! Keep the live videos short and sweet. We are aiming for a length of two to four minutes…remember what I said about a short attention span, sometimes less is more! Going live is one of the easiest ways to naturally increase the video’s reach on Facebook (meaning more viewers will see it without paying to boost the video). Also, as a bonus, you can post the videos on YouTube as well or your office’s website; just remember that they must not include any patients, at least not without proper documented consent. Our goal is to focus on our office, what makes us different from the dentist down the street, and to show that we are fun, engaging, and on the social media bandwagon.

Lastly, the single most important piece of advice I can give you regarding posts is, focus on engaging and meaningful interactions. It all comes down to creating quality content that people actually want to see. And how do you know what people want to see? Start by listening, we have the unique advantage of seeing patients in our office every day. They ask us questions, we propose treatment, we discuss new equipment or technology, etc. Start making a mental list of hot topics or frequently asked questions and I promise you will never run out of content ideas.

Now get to posting, tweeting, instagramming, and YouTubing!

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