Jan Clarke provides a beginner’s guide to marketing your practice on social media.

Like all marketing, for us in the dental sector, social media marketing must build trust, raise awareness, and help inform and educate. If you start with this in mind rather than trying to ‘sell’, you start in a better position that most.

Which platform?

I still have a preference for Facebook as the largest and still the fastest growing, but also consider using Instagram. These two platforms can be linked quite nicely to duplicate posts. Twitter is now very busy, but is still a good place to connect with journalists, local businesses and schools.

It’s much better to stick to one platform and do it well with consistency, than spread yourself too thinly.

Which profile?

There are still dental practices using personal profiles on Facebook – don’t be tempted to do this, as you’ll miss out on so many of the tools Facebook has to offer the business user. Plus, you risk having the profile shut down when Facebook realises what you’re doing.

Create a professional business page for your business and take time to make it look inviting. Create some personality with it; people love to know who is in the business, so use the profile picture or header to show people.

Stay clear of dental equipment in your imagery; the general public don’t care how fancy all your equipment is, they want to know you’re human and you can be trusted! Canva.com is a great tool to create your own headers and change them from time to time – perhaps make them seasonal or follow a campaign that may be on, like National Smile Month.

What should I post and how often?

Facebook is busy and so to be seen you do need to post regularly and frequently. Whatever you choose I would recommend you’re consistent with it, so if it’s twice a week, keep to that. My own preference for a dental business is daily, making sure you have a variety of posts.

I would advise you use a diary and plan your posting. Creating good content takes time and thought needs to go into how the post will look just as much as the content. What imagery have you got, is it the right size? Again, Canva.com is quite good for images and creating images as the sizes are all laid out for the user. Another useful one is Picmonkey.

I like to use 123rf.com to purchase images; you will need good quality images, so do have a look at some of the image sites. Don’t be tempted to copy images from elsewhere – there are companies trawling through the internet to find illegal use of images.

What should my plan look like?

Over the course of a week I would consider two posts for information and education linking to areas on your website, a treatment page or a blog page. Blogs can be reused so a regularly updated blog, twice a month, will start to give you a vast library of content over time.

Then two posts about something personal to the practice – perhaps introduce a team member or someone at a sporting event, or maybe you’ve had a bunch of flowers delivered. Your last post of the week can be shared from another site, for instance from the Oral Health Foundation or National Smile Month.

I have a few favourites for shared information and you can either share from a Facebook post or visit their website and choose content. Always give the source credit by tagging if possible, and then add your own website address in too, to help direct some traffic to your own practice too.

How do I know if it’s working?

An easy way is to measure the enquiries at reception and finding out where new patients first heard about you. The problem with this though, is that sometimes patients will say the website, because that’s where they ended up, so it’s not fail-safe.

Look at your engagement, the number of likes, the comments and particularly the reach. If engagement is low try different content, different posts. That is the beauty of the business tools in Facebook – you can analyse what’s happening and adjust accordingly. Plus, you can also see what your competitors are doing and if they are more successful.

There is no doubt that to get a decent reach you will need to pay to get your posts seen on Facebook – what is known as Facebook advertising. The simplest form of this is to ‘boost’ your post to a target audience of your choosing. This is a great tool if you want to launch an offer or an event. Dental advertising can be tricky and there are quite a few rules, but Facebook can help guide you with choosing the correct imagery that will be approved.

Social media should also be fun, so jump in, have some fun, be consistent and persistent, and see what works for you. Good luck!

For more information visit www.roseand.co.