The dental profession – in parts – has been quick to embrace social media as a way of reaching, teaching and influencing its audience.
But, does it know how to listen?
Social media is now firmly established as a channel through which businesses can win ‘friends’ and see if people ‘like’ what they’re doing as well as discover if their conversations are worthy of a ‘follow’ or ‘retweet’.
While such metrics can be flattering, dental practices are now discovering that if they are part of this conversation on social media, the real advance can be gaining a better insight into their patients and their peer groups.
Social media is a great way of having a constant stream of chatter about your brand online and engagement in consumers’ own time is far more valuable than any questions you could ask on a stuffy questionnaire or in a false focus group environment.
By moving into more natural conversations, patients may reveal aspects of their services and products that they might not have otherwise discovered.
“Social media is a great way of having a constant stream of chatter about your brand online and engagement in consumers’ own time is far more valuable than any questions you could ask”
Is there more to social media than Facebook and Twitter?
Absolutely. The number of forums and sites that accept conversational posts is mind-boggling and amounts to something silly like five million.
But Facebook and Twitter are the big ones. Facebook has more than 500 million people and there are more than 50 million tweets sent every day.
Facebook have recently launched a site called Facebook for Business – really useful for getting your Facebook page off the ground. Furthermore, it will teach you how to best present your page, build relationships and engage your fans. If you already have a Facebook business page, there are plenty of hints and tips for improving it.
To get your head around Twitter, take a look at their help centre (http://support.twitter.com). It tackles everything from getting started through to how and when to retweet and the appropriate use of hashtags.
Top social media tips – you need to know
• Give a common voice to tweets and posts and maintain a consistent tone
• Find out what followers are interested in and generate conversations. Don’t be controversial, but do ask questions to spark a debate
• Be proactive in asking questions of your engaged customer base
• Look out for when people are most active on your Facebook and Twitter as it may give a good indication as to when messages are best received
• Constantly monitor. If someone speaks to you, they expect an answer immediately – if you don’t reply within a set timescale, the opportunity can be lost
• Don’t follow everyone and anyone. Keep it relevant
• Use caution if delegating your social marketing – it’s your reputation on the line!