The Abrams Report
In last month’s issue Rita Zamora explained what is necessary to develop and manage a great social media presence. This was a first in our dentistry as Rita tackled the tough question; do I need a dedicated team member to manage my social media activity? To see what Rita said, visit Everything Dental Blog.
In this month’s issue, Mr. Dave Kerpen (President and Founder of Likeable Dentists) will tell us what small businesses and entrepreneurs are doing with social media to grow their followers and market awareness. Obviously, more followers and more awareness lead to more sales.
“Gone are the days of using the Yellow Pages, Valpak and direct mail alone to successfully market your practice. Today, savvy dentists use search marketing, SEO, and various social media platforms to market their practices. It is important to remember some key points about social media for your practice. Today there are over 1 billion people in the world on Facebook, including over 175 million Americans, or 1 in 2 adults. Twitter recently surpassed 400 million accounts. LinkedIn boasts over 200 million users. Many dentists are trying to take advantage of these trends, but few are fully reaping the rewards”.
“For many dentists, the temptation is to use social networks to promote themselves and broadcast their messages. But if you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a patient, you’ll understand that the secret to social media is in the “social” more than in the “media” – it’s in being human – being the sort of person at a cocktail party who listens attentively, tells great stories, shows interest in others, and is authentic and honest. The secret is to simply be likeable”.
Here are 7 tips to be more likeable and ensure greater success using social media:
1. Listen first and never stop listening. Before your first tweet, search Twitter for people talking about your practice and your competitors. Search using words that your prospective patients would say as well. For example, dentists should use Twitter and Facebook to search for people using the words “looking for a dentist” or “have a toothache” in your town. You’ll be surprised how many people are already looking for you.
2. Don’t tell your patients to like you and follow you, tell them why and how they should. Everywhere you turn, you see “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter.” Huh? Why? How? Give your patients a reason to connect with you on social networks, answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” and then make it incredibly easy to do so. Note the difference between these two calls to action: “Like our page on Facebook” vs “Get answers to your dental and oral health questions at https://www.facebook.com/likeabledentists.”
3. Be authentic. Your patients don’t want to read impersonal posts about the importance of seeing your dentist every six months. Instead, be human and be yourself. Are you participating in an oral health study at a local university? Share it with your fans! Know a few dentist jokes? Tell them! Imagine how much positive feedback you would get if you asked, “What did the dentist of the year get? — A little plaque.” Write posts that show your practice’s personality and watch your online community engage and grow.
4. Why ask questions? Wondering why nobody’s responding to your posts on Facebook? It’s probably because you’re not asking questions. Social media is about engagement and having a conversation, not about self-promotion. If a dentist posts on Facebook, “Call and make your next appointment today,” nobody will comment, and nobody will call to make that appointment. If that same dentist posts a question as simple as, “What’s your favorite brand of toothpaste?” people will be more likely to comment online and engage with the practice. Better yet, if that same dentist asks, “What’s the scariest part about going to the dentist?” think of the number of people who will comment on the post and bring attention to the practice. It is important for dentists to understand Edgerank – Facebook’s formula for determining what shows up in people’s ever-crowded Newsfeeds.
5. Surprise and delight your patients. Want to bring more attention to your practice’s social media pages and become more likeable overall? Learn ways to surprise and delight your patients on a regular basis. Offer contests and raffles or encourage your community to join the conversation for a chance to win a year’s worth of free toothpaste and floss. Better yet, offer a free visit for a lucky patient who calls and makes an appointment that day! Remember, free is like magic and a delighted patient will share their experience with friends and family.
6. Share pictures and videos. People love photos. The biggest reason Facebook went from 0 to 1 billion users in 7 years is photos. Photos and videos tell stories about you in ways that text alone cannot. You don’t need a big production budget, either. Use your smartphone to take pictures and short videos of patients, staff, and cool things at your office, and then upload them directly to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A picture of a child with a cavity-free smile is great, and a video of a dentist entertaining his patients dressed like a giant toothbrush is even better! A picture really is worth a thousand words – and a video is worth a thousand pictures.
7. Spend at least 30 minutes a day on social media. If you bought a newspaper ad or radio ad, you wouldn’t spend 5 minutes on it or relegate it to interns, so don’t do it with social media. Not to mention, there’s a lot to learn, and every week, new tools and opportunities across social networks emerge. Spend real time each day reading and learning, listening and responding, and truly joining the conversation. The more time and effort you put in to social media, the more benefits your practice will receive.
The tips listed above are critical to maintain and grow an online community, but before you even consider social media, I tell our customers, consider this: Facebook will help magnify and multiply the conversations about your practice. Will you be happy about the nature of those conversations?
Before you get involved with external communications- online marketing, advertising and social media- look internally at your practice. The secret to the most effective marketing of all is so simple- just be likeable.
What do your patients say when they talk about YOUR practice with their friends and family? Do they rave about short wait times, friendly staff and beautiful decor? Or will they have less than savory things to say?
Are your offices immaculate? Is there a plethora of magazines and activities for the waiting room? Are there great treats and prizes for the kids? What about your practice is remarkable? What about your practice is likeable?
Remember to follow the golden rule:
Would you yourself click the “Like” button, the Follow button, or Retweet button if you saw your practice or your content here? Would you want to be friends with your practice at a cocktail party? Just how likeable is your practice?
Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local & Chairman, Likeable Media
Urgent? Text 617.905.3283 or call my office @ 212.359.4355 – or best yet, Tweet me @ http://Twitter.com/DaveKerpen
Many clinicians hate selling dentistry and don’t want to be sales people. They feel that selling procedures can be very demeaning to them and the profession. I am here to tell you to get over it. The art of persuasion is a wonderful skill and can be quite effective even for healthcare professionals.
As a sales professional, I am uncomfortable with the title of salesman. Comedians, the media and unscrupulous sales people have reinforced that used car salesman stigma for all of us over the ages. It is difficult to get passed the stigma but sales professionals are not just fast talking closers anymore. Remember the classic speech given by Alec Baldwin in the movie – Glengarry GlenRoss http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kZg_ALxEz0
In today’s complex world, sales consultants are needed to explain technical jargon, train end users, introduce new concepts, offer practice management/operational expertise and to utilize their extensive network to help clients solve complex problems.
Even in a nonprofit entity, selling a patient on the value of prevention or on the importance of taking their medication will enhance patient compliance and health. In school, a persuasive educator who uses tools, media and special circumstance to gain the trust of their students performs better than the less creative teacher. A fundraiser who spends money creating a unique event or hires a big time, “marquee entertainer” will capture the generosity of big donors.
Even in environments where there are limitations put on the caregiver (insurance), that care giver must be comprehensive in their diagnosis and persuasive in their delivery of the treatment plan. This will yield better case acceptance, better compliance and may encourage the patient’s participation for out of pocket electives. If the treatment plan is too expensive or the need and urgency has not been demonstrated, than the patient will never agree to the work.
The stigma of sales is real and there are far too many sales professionals that do not help public opinion by putting their agenda ahead of their clients. We all sell or advocate for something, even with our spouses and family members. When your spouse reluctantly goes to that war movie or chick flick, someone out sold the other or circumstances gave way for that to happen. Even if the movie selection process was based on fairness or you took turns, agreement was needed to adopt this process as well. Someone had the idea first!
Money is difficult to talk about but it mustn’t be a deterrent from providing good recommendations for clinical or elective dentistry! This is why dental practices must be well versed on discussing and selling third party patient financing like Citi Health™ or Care Credit™. You must also possess good communication and selling skills. Remember, easily understandable treatment plans and easily affordable payment options encourage patients to say yes to treatment (sell the case!).