Social media has replaced traditional newsletters and email newsletters because people carry Facebook in their pocket all day long and they use it 1.7 billion times every month, says Naren Arulrajah, president and CEO of Ekwa Marketing, a custom website design firm.
In days gone by, when people needed a dentist, they either asked a family member or friend, or they let their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages (remember them?). The dentist who had the largest marketing budget stood a good chance of standing out more with full-page ads.
Then Google came along — and eventually social media – and turned everything upside down. That put information at everyone’s fingertips. It also leveled the playing field, if you took advantage.
Dentists, studies show, are not taking full advantage of social media. According to the 2013 Dental Marketing Barometer Survey, 59 percent of respondents reported using Facebook to market their practices. But effectively marketing your practice means doing more than simply posting your profile.
“It’s a mindset many business owners have,” says Naren Arulrajah, president and CEO of Ekwa Marketing, a custom website design firm. “They think of everything from their point of view. They don’t think of things from the customer’s point of view.”
Arulrajah says that thanks to search engines like Google and various social media platforms, people are educating themselves about whatever interests them. That could be finding the right car, remodeling their kitchen, or picking the right dentist. And a huge part of marketing in the Internet and social media world is to dominate Google.
“Your job is to keep showing up so they see you again and again,” Arulrajah says. “You want your business stuck in the back of their mind.”
But your dental practice is not the only one trying to occupy space in consumers’ minds. Why should they pick you? Are you providing them with the information they need?
“If I’m interested in crowns, are you talking to me about crowns?” Arulrajah asks, rhetorically. “People are very impatient. They want information quickly. So if I want information about crowns, and I pull up a page about crowns, I want to see some information and some testimonials right there on page one. I don’t have to figure out what it’s about. You are giving me the information I need to start liking you.”
That, he says, is what social media is all about. When consumers go to your website, and they like your Facebook page, they’re giving you permission to keep them updated on what your practice is doing—so you stay at the top of their minds.
“Social media has replaced traditional newsletters and email newsletters because people carry Facebook in their pocket all day long and they use it 1.7 billion times every month,” Arulrajah explains. “So, it’s a great way to keep in touch with people without knowing them.”
If your computer gets a virus, that’s a bad thing. But if news or information about your practice goes viral, that’s positive — and that’s where viral marketing comes into play.
“When I like something (on Facebook), other people who are my friends notice it,” Arulrajah says.
But it goes way beyond simply having a Facebook page for your dental practice. Because let’s face it — who’s scouring Facebook looking for a dentist. However, if a patient has a beautiful crown done and the dentist takes a photo of it, posts the photo on his or her Facebook page and tags the patient, every one of that patient’s friends will see it.
“It’s seen as something good that happened to them,” Arulrajah says. “It’s marketing that’s subtle, and done in a tasteful fashion. It’s a very smart way to do viral marketing where I get in touch with your friends without you having to lift a finger.”
And it addresses the person the consumer feels most concerned about: himself.
“Nobody cares about you, they care about themselves,” Arulrajah emphasizes. “You have to post things that people will care about.”
Connecting the Dots
Does that mean you should dedicate one individual at the practice to solely focus on social media?
“Having a dedicated person just for social media is overkill,” Arulrajah says. “Because the problem with social media is nobody goes to social media to find a dentist. So alone, it’s useless. Social media is great combined with other things, like your website and mobilization, and videos and other stuff that gets them to want to do business with you.”
In other words, social media can have a very positive impact on your dental practice as part of an overall marketing strategy.
“Without the overall strategy you’re wasting money,” Arulrajah says. “It’s like connecting dots. Alone, (social media) is not a very powerful dot.”