‘Facebook is for teenagers’ – this is a phrase I hear often, and the perception is certainly that… 16-year-olds sitting talking to their mates in weird txt spk tht we cnnt undrstnd WU2, LOL! (that stands for What you up to, laugh out loud! – I only know that because my daughter is 15) But how often are we wrong with our perceptions? In this case, we are VERY wrong. So let’s look at some actual Facebook stats :
• Total Facebook Users in the UK – 28, 413, 560
• Penetration of population in the UK: 45.57%
% of Facebook users in key dental demographic group for cosmetic dentistry (aged 25-55 yrs old)
• 53% = 15 059 186 people
% of facebook users in key dental demographic group for implant and denture dentistry (aged 55 and over): 6% = 1,704,813 people
So, there are potentially more than 16 million people in the UK that are chatting and keeping in touch with each other on a regular basis.
And, if we then add in the 14 minutes per day  people spend on Facebook… you can instantly see there is a great deal of potential to engage with potential patients using social media!
But where do you start?
I’m going to leave the practical aspect of this to another blog post, as there is something MORE IMPORTANT that needs mentioning first.
My recommendation is that, before you start actually using Facebook or any other social network, you MUST understand the principle of social media marketing, and this principle is very different from conventional marketing.
Social media is about engagement, its about talking, it’s about sharing and helping. It is NOT about selling your wares, telling people of your latest offer or directly trying to get people to part with their money this all comes later AFTER you have engaged with people.
The world is changing and we are all becoming less responsive to classic marketing techniques because we are being bombarded with them all the time, TV, Google ads, Facebook ads etc. Think about it like this… marketing is about matching people with a problem to people with a solution. So, as the solution provider, the best way to market your wares is to help people with their problems, it stands to reason really.
If you use Facebook to tell people about your latest special offer, that’s not helping them solve their problem, but if you tell them how to keep their teeth for life by educating them on oral hygiene (this would appeal to implant patients) and helping them spot the early signs of gum disease (health conscious and hygiene patients), or what to look out for in a tooth whitening tooth paste (teeth whitening patients) then you have shown these people that you genuinely care about them and genuinely want to help them with their problem.
PLUS you have set yourself up as THE expert in the local area – so when they identify their specific issues (missing, dark, wobbly, crooked teeth etc) there is only one person they would ever think of going to… the local expert…. YOU!
This is marketing on a personal level. This is marketing on a social level. This is marketing that truly sets you up as the expert and helps to build a relationship with a patient before they walk through the door. This is relationship marketing.
In future, blog posts I will go through the basic techniques we can use on each of the social networks, but I will always refer to this blog post as the foundation of everything to come.
 Source: http://www.facebakers.com/facebook-statistics/united-kingdom site accessed 10/11/2010
 Source: http://mashable.com/2010/02/16/facebook-nielsen-stats/ site accesses 10/11/2010