Do you know a hashtag from a poke, a like from a pin? No? Don’t worry you’re not on your own. Sarah Learoyd answers some of the most asked social media questions from dental practice owners and managers
Q: All the practices in my area have social media accounts, but I have no idea where to start, what should I do?
A: A word of caution. Many businesses feel that they’re being forced into social media and that’s really not the case. It’s just as damaging to your business to have a bad social media identity than nothing at all. Because of this it’s really important you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and exactly what it will take to get there.
Before you do anything you need to really think about what you want from any social media activity? Here are some questions I would ask yourself?
• Is your aim to attract more patients?
• Do you want to carve out a position in the industry as a thought leader?
• Do you want to use social media to drive traffic to your website?
• Do you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what your patients wait?
• Do you want to manage it yourself or employ a third party?
• What return do you want from your social media – is success valued in followers, new business or an increase in website traffic (perhaps it’s all of the above)
If you’re only considering social media because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing, then stop and invest your efforts in something that you feel has value to you, your business and your team.
Q: How much time do you need to invest in social media for a business?
A: Once you turn on the social media tap it’s a long term commitment. Social media needs attention and you need to be willing to put in the hours to get a return.
What you often find is that businesses invest a lot of time to start off with. It’s a novelty. Then after a couple of weeks or months they find that other business priorities eat into this time until eventually the social media accounts lay dormant.
It’s better to have absolutely no social media presence than to have something old, outdated and unloved.
Q: I use Facebook personally, but I don’t know what’s best for business use?
A: A lot of businesses get a rush of blood to the head and set up a handful of social media accounts across all the most popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Instead the best approach is to select the platform that helps you achieve your goals.
Sites such as Pinterest and Instagram are the best options for consumer and lifestyle brands as they are image focused. They can help position a brand or service as aspirational which is why beauty and fashion brands are the most successful here. They lend themselves to cosmetic dentistry – but never post any medical or gruesome photos here, only the smile makeovers.
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry or to recruit talent, LinkedIn is a must as long as you use it well. Just having an account doesn’t cut it, you need to be active by posting content, sharing and liking material.
Twitter is a great account for businesses dipping their toes in the water of social media as it’s a micro blogging platform that encompasses image, link sharing and thought leadership. This out of all of the platforms is the one I’d recommend businesses start with.
Q: I’ve started a Twitter account but I often struggle to think of things to talk about do you have any advice?
A: The secret is planning. Think of four subjects you want to talk about on social media – two of these could be commercial and linked to the key areas of your business, a third could be about your team and the fourth about something within a relevant sector that interests you, such as healthy eating, fitness or perhaps even fashion if you’re a cosmetic concern. This will give you some structure to creating your content and means that you should always have something to post about.
If you have any questions, feel free to tweet them to us
@glrpr using the hashtag #SocialMedia101.
Sarah Learoyd is an account director with leading dental communications consultancy, GLR Public Relations, she specialises in digital reputation management and engagement with the health sector.