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Michael Ventriello is the owner of Ventriello Communications LLC, and has been specializing in dental industry public relations and marketing for more than a decade. In recent years, he has been creating social media programs for dental companies and key opinion leaders. He is also the founder and the moderator of the LinkedIn Group “Social Media for Dentistry”. Contact him at Michael@Ventriello.com.
Ever since the earliest days, many social media professionals and do-it-yourselfers have been obsessed with the amount of followers they have on their social media networks-despite the fact that many of these followers are useless. So, why do so many dental practices and dental companies have so many deadbeat followers?
Ever since the earliest days, many social media professionals and do-it-yourselfers have been obsessed with the amount of followers they have on their social media networks-despite the fact that many of these followers are useless.
So, why do so many dental practices and dental companies have so many deadbeat followers? The reason for this is three-fold:
1)The followers metric is easily misunderstood
The social media head count metric is often used to appease clients and employers who are concerned about social media ROI. For example:
Boss: “Hey Mary, you’ve been spending a lot of time on social media lately. Is it paying off?
Mary: “Absolutely! “We’ve doubled our followers on almost all the platforms we’re on in the last couple of months.
Boss: “I guess that’s good!”
Mary: (Thinking to herself) ‘Whew! Dodged a bullet!”
As with most things in life, the quality over quantity rule applies. The more qualified and engaged your social media followers are, the more interested they will be and more likely they will be to engage with you on social media and eventually buy what you are offering.
And if you think that the ultimate goal of social media is not to sell something at some point in time, you are deluding yourself.
2) Proven direct marketing principles are not being applied.
For many years, I’ve told anyone who would listen that social media is just another tool in a marketer’s tool box and is not exempt from the application of proven marketing principles.
In fact, social media marketing best practices are in effect, a greatest hits collection of other marketing disciplines’ best practices including advertising, public relations and especially direct marketing. When it comes to direct marketing (email or snail mail), the triad of success includes compelling creative execution, a strong call to action and a targeted list.
Although creative concepts and calls to action are extremely important in social media marketing, for the sake of this article, we will compare social media followers to mailing-list members.
When launching a direct marketing campaign, you wouldn’t settle for a list of unqualified recipients, would you? For example, would you send an email campaign promoting your new high-tech dental widget to auto mechanics? I didn’t think so. Your optimal follower profile should map into your business objectives. Determine your target audience/buyer, where they live, etc.
Directing your content and promotions to unqualified followers will skew the other social metrics such as likes, engagement, shares and the organic growth prompted by the invitation of additional targeted followers by your current followers. Paid exposures via sponsored posts can be very cost-effective when compared to other forms of advertising and direct marketing. However this cost effectiveness is undermined by deadbeat social media followers.
One of the best examples of this is the Facebook option to boost a post by targeting your followers. This is comparable to sending an email campaign to your in-house opt-in list.
However, if your followers include a high percentage of deadbeats, you sponsored post is wasted on those who are not interested in engaging or not qualified to purchase.
If your personal Facebook account is a mix of personal and professional contacts. You can organize your followers accordingly by reviewing your follower list and using the dropdown dox on the right of the person’s photo. You can get pretty specific with this. This is an underused, but helpful feature that can help you target your posts.
On LinkedIn, you can sort through your contacts using a keyword search tool, then send a targeted InMail based on this criteria.
3)The fallacy of free
The perception that social media is “free” and “what do we have to lose” still persists, even among companies that have been flogging away at it for years.
The fact is, curating and creating content that will resonate with your target audience takes time-sometimes lots of time. If you assign this task to an employee or choose to do it yourself, it will take time away from something else that may be more important to the day-to-day survival of your business such as product development, customer service or patient care.
Because of this, many social media accounts aren’t updated or monitored as frequently as they should be. Sure, there are tools that you can use to help you monitor social media and schedule your posts, but someone has to chart the course and navigate the ship when it comes to social media strategy and tactical execution.
So, if your personal time is worth anything, if your employee is on the clock, or if you are outsourcing your social media efforts to a consultant, you are paying something.
In a nutshell, if your social media program is directed at non-qualified followers, you are wasting time and money. There is no free lunch in social media.
Next: How do you identify social media deadbeats?
So what to do about your deadbeat followers? In a word, Purge! Here are six criteria for identifying and purging your deadbeats:
Faceless: If the follower has no profile photo, don’t be part of their social media witness protection program. Let them continue hiding, but not on your social media accounts.
Selfish: Social media by nature of its definition should not be a one-way street. So a person or company with a Twitter account that has thousands of followers but does not seem to reciprocate, is not a valuable follower. See ya!
Sleepers: If your follower never posts, never comments or never uses their own social media accounts, chances are they’ll never provide value as a follower of yours. Deadbeat!
Abusers: Do not stop at purging these people, block them! This type is worse than a typical deadbeat because they intimidate and alienate your other valuable followers. Although most common on Twitter, trolls and bullies can poison and kill a popular Facebook or LinkedIn Group in a few posts. Don’t let them!
Hawkers: Self-promoters love to post on other social media groups. They are like social media squatters. If you don’t want your competitor or get rich quick consultants hawking their wares on your group, warn them first, then remove and block them if necessary.
Outsiders: If you own a dental practice, it makes no sense to have followers outside of the realistic driving distance of your practice. You don’t have to go as far as purging your friends and relatives, but be wary of social media managers and consultants who invite their friends in far-flung areas of the world to follow your social media accounts. If your company sells equipment and materials to dentists and hygienists, recruiting followers outside the profession will be of zero value.
Social media is like dental hygiene
Just like a patient, your social media accounts need a “hygiene appointment” every six months. That’s right, schedule a time where you will review and remove deadbeat followers on all of your social media accounts. It should also be noted that since this is a two-way street, you should also apply the above criteria to determine if you will continue to follow individual and/or groups. This can be a painstaking, time-consuming process, but it needs to be done.
There are however some free tools available to help you manage your Twitter account. CIO Magazine recently published a round-up on what is available.
Then, in order to make the next hygiene appointment easier, keep up with your ongoing social media efforts by being more selecting in who you invite and accept as followers across all of your social media platforms.