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Social Media 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started on Social Media

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A whopping 81 percent of people in the United States have at least one social media profile. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be a great avenues to connect with friends, family and even potential patients – but where do you begin? It’s important to start by understanding how each platform is best utilized. For example, Facebook works best for sharing articles, photos and videos, Twitter is best used for sharing live updates and timely news, and Instagram is for high-quality photos and short videos. Below is a short overview of the best practices for each channel to help you get the most out of social media.

Facebook is widely considered the top social networking site in the world with more than two billion active users. The platform is popular among all ages and is used by brands to get their message out to the world, as well as a place for users to connect with their friends. After creating a Facebook Business page, be sure to fill out the “About” section for your business. When potential patients visit your page, you want them to be able easily locate your contact information, location and other important details – so you should always include the phone number, address, website and email address for your practice. We recommend posting on Facebook three to five times per week to keep followers engaged. User attention span is down, so short and sweet posts are the way to go – with videos lasting no more than 30 seconds. Focus on posting articles and videos relevant to your practice. This will earn more Likes and comments from your audience and will boost traffic to your website. Consistently tagging other accounts when appropriate and avoiding the use of hashtags will further grow your following.

Twitter is where people go to make their voices heard. With more than 335 million active monthly users, and 500 million tweets sent per day, Twitter is a powerhouse of opportunity for brands and individuals to share and receive up to the minute updates and engage in conversation. The platform now allows users 280 characters to get their message across. You can maximize this length by shortening links with Bit.ly, using one to two relevant hashtags, tagging other accounts, and posting tweets with an image. Using hashtags such as #DentistMA will help you connect with your target audience. Instagram is an extremely popular social network. Did you know sixty percent of adults who are online have an Instagram account? The photo sharing platform is a great way to expand the visual aspect of your practice and to reach a younger audience, as most


Instagram is an extremely popular social network. Did you know sixty percent of adults who are online have an Instagram account? The photo sharing platform is a great way to expand the visual aspect of your practice and to reach a younger audience, as most Instagram users are between the ages of 18-35. As with Facebook and Twitter, it is important to fill out your bio with contact information and a link to your website. Your Instagram feed should consist of high-quality images and videos relevant to your practice. Posting images of office culture and patient engagement will make your page and your practice seem more relatable. Tagging other accounts and adding five to seven relevant hashtags to each post after the caption, will help you reach a larger audience.
 
Now that you understand the basics of the three most popular social media platforms, we also wanted to share a few final tips and tricks for building the best channels you can for your business:
  1. For all platforms, you should use the name of your practice as your handle. If it is taken, try abbreviating or incorporating your location into the handle. Keeping it simple by avoiding numbers and names that are irrelevant to your business will help your patients easily find your page.
  2. When it comes to hashtags, make sure you do your research. If a hashtag is trending, make sure you know why before writing posts that use it. Hashtags are a great way to elevate your practice into different conversation streams on both Twitter and Instagram.
  3. When it comes to building followers, it is helpful to start by engaging with other users. Whether you are following other relevant pages or liking and commenting on posts – engagement with followers and potential followers is key to building a strong audience.
 
Once you master the basics of social media you will be well on your way to connecting with current patients and attracting new ones! Is your practice doing something amazing on social media? Tell us about it on Facebook.

3 Ways to Use Video to Engage Patients
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Between gifs, instructional DIY videos and news clips, videos are all over social media.  More than 100 million hours of video are watched on facebook daily, and onlin videos will account for more than 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2020. You can use this trend to your advantage to engage current patients and market your practice to potential patients - all you need is a smart phone and an idea.  We asked T.J. Winick, a veteran in broadcast journalism, for more tips to help get your creativity flowing. The types of videos described below will establish you as a trusted resource for your community and help prospective patients learn more about your practice. 

1. Help with hygiene. Consider simple preventive care activities that patients often forget or additional suggestions that can help them boost their dental hygiene. Whether it’s flossing tips or reminders to change their toothbrush regularly, posting guidelines will help patients remember that dental hygiene is important 365 days of the year – not just during check-ups. You can further engage viewers through demonstrations; for example, take a video of yourself flossing and use the Splice app on your phone to add your instructions as a voiceover.

2. Showcase your office culture. Does your staff engage patients in fun ways throughout their visits? Does your practice have a unique design? Is there a new staff member with an interesting back story? Is your practice involved in community service projects on the weekends? These stories will help prospective patients get to know you and your staff even before their first appointment, potentially resulting in decreased anxiety. The format of your video can include a tour of your space, interviews with employees or an out-of-work activity. Once you have the footage, Videoshop makes it easy to combine clips, add text and set it to music.

3. Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that you seem to get every time you’re with a new patient? An informative video is an opportunity to share answers with a large number of patients, in addition to one-on-one conversations in the dental chair. The unknown can prevent patients from booking a much-needed procedure. If you appear in search results as patients are researching information, they are more likely to not only schedule the service, but to book it with you. Filming an FAQ video is simple – just set your phone on a tripod with an adapter and hit record. Use iMovie to trim your footage and combine clips.


As videos continue to be prioritzed in social media newsfeed, they are an incredibly powerful tool to market your practice. Dental hygiene tips, office culture updates and frequently asked questions arejust a fewexamples of topics that help patients practice healthy oral hygiene habits and bring in new business.  You can share these videos on your website, social media channels or any other online platform in which you interact with patients.  You can even share them in your waiting area.

Has your practice filmed an awesome video? Tell us about it on Facebook


3 Ways to Use Email Marketing to Engage Patients Between Routine Cleaning

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Getting patients in for regular cleanings and check-ups can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Email marketing can help you stay top of mind for patients in between appointments and help you grow your practice. We spoke with Lindsay Higgins, a Certified Constant Contact Expert who specializes in email strategy for the best ways to maximize the success of your email campaigns. These tips will help you use email to foster trust and a stronger connection with your patients, even before they’re in the chair.
 
  1. Expand the types of emails you send. In addition to the usual “Happy Birthday” and appointment reminder emails, mix in additional types of content such as e-newsletters with up-to-date news about your practice, holiday cards, promotions and dental tips. Work on establishing consistency with your patients by using the same template, colors and fonts in all emails. This will help your patients recognize and anticipate your messages, further building trust.
 
  1. Map out your content and follow a schedule. Sending a regular newsletter will allow you to send consistent updates including events at your practice, helpful tips, reviews of oral healthcare products, new staff introductions, etc. Newsletters can also act as a gentle reminder to schedule a cleaning. Content calendars of theme ideas can help you create a road map of topics for the rest of the year. Topic examples include the following:
    • January: What To Expect From [Your Practice Name] Dental In 2019
    • March: National Dentist Day March 6 - showcase your dentists
    • April: Spring Cleaning! Appointment reminders
    • August: Back To School theme
    • October: Halloween Candy Buy Back Promotion
    • November: Happy Thanksgiving! We’re Thankful For Your Referrals!
 
  1. Promote referrals. In addition to staying in touch with current patients, you can also use email to grow your practice. It is an effective platform for offering current patients discounts, or perks for referring new patients to your practice. Emails create a low-pressure opportunity to ask loyal patients to help your practice by bringing a friend to their next appointment. In addition to offering discounts for referrals, you should aim to make the referral process as easy as possible. This could include creating a button within your email to help patients automatically refer a friend by entering their name, email and phone number.
 
Building your email marketing strategy will make your practice more profitable through new patient referrals and additional appointments from current patients. Consistent messaging will benefit both you and your patients; they will receive helpful reminders, oral hygiene tips and community news, while you will build rapport that will subtly encourage patients to revisit your chair. Is your practice excelling at email marketing? Tell us about it on social media.

 


10 Effective Ways to Attract New Patients on Instagram

 
Attracting new customers can be a daunting task for many businesses. Thankfully, with the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, it’s becoming easier than ever to reach more people. Millennials are the next generation of loyal patients and their “information on-demand” mentality makes Instagram the perfect platform to attract and retain patients who will stay with you in the long run. In fact, 90% of the 800 million users on the platform are under the age of 35. Instagram is also an easy way to assuage patient’s fears of the dentist and to showcase both your clinical excellence as well as the more approachable person-focused element to your dental practice that will help you retain patients.
 
These ten tips will help your dental practice revamp your Instagram account or get started from scratch by creating content that will attract new patients and engage your current followers. New to Instagram and not sure where to start? Click here for an introduction to the platform.   
                     
  1. Instagram has many tools to make it easy for users to get in touch with a small business. As of March 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, called a business, or emailed a business through the brand’s page. This is why it’s crucial to create a bio for your dental practice. This should include a few words about your practice including your specialties, your location, and a link to your website. This information will introduce visitors to your page and give them the tools to inquire and learn more about your dental practice.
 
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  1. Did you know posts with a location tag get 79% more Likes and comments? Using the location tool on Instagram will make your content more visible and will allow users to find your post by searching the location tag in the app. You can tag your practice, the town you’re in, or a local landmark nearby, allowing your profile to be seen by a wider range of prospective patients. For example, you can post a behind-the-scenes photo of some of your team members celebrating a birthday or an event and use the location tool to tag your dental practice.
 
  1. Instagram is a follow for follow community, so to gain more followers you will need to follow more accounts. Following accounts with similar interests, such as other practices, dental trade publication accounts, community organizations, or local events will help draw more engagement to your page. You can also follow the existing followers of these accounts since you know they are interested in content related to dental care. A follow to their page would likely result in a follow back.
 
  1. Using and creating hashtags in your posts will also help prospective patients find and engage with your content. Creating a hashtag specific to your practice is recommended. By doing so, you can invite patients to use the hashtag after their visit and follow along with the hashtag to see your clients’ posts about your practice. Additionally, using popular dental hashtags such as #MADentist, #DentalHumor, #CleanEats, #HealthyLiving, #OralHealth, #Toothbrush, #Smile, #HealthyTeeth, #HappyTeeth will make your account more visible. Community hashtags will also help you promote your business on Instagram. For example, if you or your staff are running or supporting a local charity road race, use the associated hashtag to promote your involvement while giving props to the organizers and other sponsors.
 
  1. Video is a very helpful way to increase engagement with your followers. Video on Instagram is more eye-catching in the feed and earns high engagement. According to Instagram, the amount of time users spend watching video has increased by more than 80% year over year. Consider filming short, simple videos with your cell phone to mix into your feed along with images. Instagram’s Story tool allows you to shoot short videos within the app and add special stickers and effects such as a smile emoji. Ideas include a “day in the life” of a dentist or videos of positive patient testimonials. You can even have one of your team members or a patient take over your Instagram account for the day!
 
  1. Reposting photos from other accounts is a great way to boost engagement. Be sure to credit the original account by tagging them in your post. Additionally, reposting relevant photos from your patients and following their accounts will increase engagement. Patients are more likely to post images about your practice if there is a chance they will be featured on your page.
 
  1. Potential patients and followers want to see your work! Posting before and after shots of teeth, especially teeth whitening, Invisalign, veneers, and before and after braces, earn higher engagement and more inquiries. Mobile apps such as VSCO can help you turn simple phone photography into polished images.
 
  1. Tagging patients and followers in your post will increase your number of Likes, comments, and follower count. You can post a picture of one of your patients in the dental chair and tag their personal account. There are also easy ways to engage with patients in the waiting room of your dental practice such as including your Instagram handle on new patient forms and signs around the office. Calls to action such as “Tell us how we are doing! Reach out to us on Instagram” will further boost patient engagement. Acknowledging your followers can help you earn loyalty to your page and practice. Before using photos of patients, it is a best practice to get their consent.  
 
  1. Get creative! Using creative captions for your post will boost engagement with your followers. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It will draw more followers to interact with your page if you post something clever. If you have writer’s block, try an app like Captiona to help generate inspiring captions.
 
  1. Lastly, Instagram Insights is a helpful feature in Instagram business pages. Instagram Insights give you an inside look at how your page is performing. You can see the number of people who have viewed your promotional posts, how many times views your Instagram stories have received, the number of website clicks from your profile, and how often your page is visited. If a particular post earned a high number of Likes and comments, you will know to post similar images in the future.
 
Instagram is a powerful asset in your marketing toolbox. Even simple improvements to your page can make a significant difference in attracting followers and engagement. Try out the tips above to increase your reach and attract new patients.
 
Are you already having success with your dental practice’s Instagram account? We want to hear about it! Tag @deltadentalofma in your best posts on Instagram.

 


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