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These days, it seems like everyone and their mother has their own blog. But if youâ€™re not utilizing the free tools available to jump on this bandwagon, youâ€™re missing out on a crucial piece of modern practice ownership. Continue below to find out how to get started.
Your practice's blog should feature educational content, your patients and — most importantly — you.
Across every service industry, tuning into where customers and clients hang out online is essential to the success of individual businesses. If you have your own website, use social media and put out content on your platforms, you’re on the right track. But there is more to self-promotion than Tweeting out interesting articles you stumble upon or Instagramming a few pictures of your smiling patients.
And while having your own website is a start, it’s not enough to engage patients and differentiate yourself.
“I’ve met thousands of dentists over the years, and none of them were even close to the same. But you wouldn’t know it from their websites,” writes blogger Alan Mead, a Michigan-based dentist and avid blogger.
According to HubSpot, businesses with blogs receive 91 percent more links to their websites. What’s more, a 2012 BlogHer study found that more than 60 percent of online American consumers use blogs to make purchasing decisions. That’s a lot of potential to expand your patient load.
With a blog, you can create your own original content that serves your patients’ educational needs while giving your practice a marketing boost. Dentistry may not be as exciting to your patients as the fashion and lifestyle blogs they likely frequent, but with the right content strategy, you may just find yourself tapping into a patient pool to which you wouldn’t otherwise have access.
The Dos and Don'ts
First thing’s first: An inactive blog is almost as bad as not having one at all. So, if you’re not going to post original content that is unique to your practice on a regular basis, you’re just shouting into the void.
The Internet only needs so many practice blogs espousing the virtues of brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. Think patients need another definitive list of toothpaste brands? It has been done.
“Even if you’ve got great search engine results, if you have lame content on the blog a savvy potential customer is going to be able to tell that it’s canned copy,” Mead writes regarding authenticity in practice marketing. “And you need to assume that everyone that gets to your site is a savvy potential customer.”
Instead, create a workable formula that still incorporates you, your practice and your patients. Everyone loves to see themselves featured online, even if it’s just on a community practice’s website. Give patients an incentive to visit your blog by hosting contests and spotlighting a patient of the month.
The days of early-2000s blogster sites are over, so your blog should have a multimedia approach. This means photos, videos, written content and even audio can — and should — be featured on your blog.
Most importantly, give your blog a personal touch. Don’t be afraid to talk about the hobbies, goals and past experiences that shape you as a dentist. Patients love to see you being human, and making yourself accessible in this way may even make anxious patients less afraid to come in for check-ups. Consider monthly posts sharing your life and practice updates, your favorite things outside of dentistry, and your personal and professional success stories.
When it comes to listicles, keep them to a minimum if you’re only providing information that already yields myriad results on Google. These posts aren’t just boring to your patients — search engines will punish you for copying existing content by pushing your search results down. An alternative to this is to take advantage of weekly trending hashtags. For #TechTuesday, feature products you’re using in your practice to show patients you’re on the up-and-up when it comes to technology. #WisdomWednesday is an opportunity to share your funny post-wisdom tooth surgery stories or, with your patients’ permission, pictures and videos of how a procedure went. Get creative!
When you run low on ways to feature your community or provide updates on you and your practice, take a note from popular lifestyle blogs by sharing recipes that support oral health and keeping a backlog of ask-the-dentist posts for patients’ frequently asked questions.
I made a blog post. Now what?
The good news is that the hard part is over. Now, shift your focus to promoting that post on your social media platforms. It doesn’t matter what goes up on your blog — if it’s on there, Tweet, Instagram and Facebook it to let your followers know what you’re publishing.
Creating a posting schedule for social media is key to optimizing traffic to your blog. Make sure your patients know your social media handles by posting them around the office and asking satisfied patients to follow you after their appointments. Once you gain your online following, make a strategy by observing your audience’s behaviors.
By sticking with consistency and originality, blogging can be easier, faster and cheaper than traditional advertising.