Social media rules, OK?

Many of us are aware of the power of social media – a new people power. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on have firmly established themselves as the easy-access voice outlet of the online community.

Good social media can make or break a business. This particularly applies to businesses that are liable for online reviews, dental practices included. Social media is both a great way for businesses to reach current and potential customers but also for those customers to respond to the treatment they have had, both positively and negatively. Nothing resounds with a potential customer like a review, either good or bad.

Powerful tool
What is crucial is your practice’s management of their social media. Social media can be a powerful marketing tool when used correctly. Encourage people to ‘Like’ your practice on Facebook, or ‘Follow’ you on Twitter, and then send out information such as exciting promotions and practice news, or communicate with your patients directly, in a positive and informative manner. Social media is not only a great marketing tool but a free one, and, although economical, can be one of the most important weapons in your marketing arsenal. It offers immediate gratification for the internet user to either discover information about a practice and that is why it is so important you manage your entire online presence. Your social media campaigns must be truly representative of you and your business, and be a positive reflection of both.

Facebook offers businesses the chance to create an entire webpage dedicated to them and to portraying them in the way that they would like. You create your own Facebook and can therefore tailor it to represent you in the most effective manner possible. Encourage current patients to ‘Like’ your Facebook page and if they do they will share it with their entire community of Facebook contacts, enabling you and your practice to reach the awareness of potentially thousands of new patients.

Twitter allows you to contact your followers instantly as a whole, or individually for a more personal touch. It encourages users to discuss topics that you have raised, or to share your thoughts with their own group of followers. The key to Twitter is short, sharp, positive messages that will catch the attention of your fellow Twitter users. Twitter forces you to be concise and focused in your marketing messages.

Buzz of interest
Both Facebook and Twitter offer businesses an opportunity to create marketing that spreads via other people, perhaps the most effective method of communication, the online equivalent of word of mouth recommendation. Many of us have witnessed the impact of viral marketing and both of these outlets allow the user to create that same buzz and interest.

Dark side
There is, however, a potentially darker side to social media for businesses. Disgruntled or unsatisfied patients can instantaneously voice their concerns or complaints, in full view of other social media users. Many of you will be aware of the power of the TripAdvisor travel website and its ability to make or break an establishment.
Rather than scare you away from using social media, it is important to remember that these reviews will take place with or without your official practice presence online. If you are part of social media and embrace it, then it offers you the chance to respond to such criticism swiftly and effectively. Do not ignore a critical comment, respond in a manner that presents you as calm, collected and professional.

Apologise quickly when you deem an apology necessary (or the best way to deal with a complaint), but crucially be forthright, open and honest. An unhappy social media user will often send out a complaint in the heat of the moment but when a line of communication is opened with them will be more reasonable and open to pacification. There is nothing more irritating than your complaint being ignored, but we often soften when it is responded to, particularly if it is done in a efficient and judicious manner.

• Good management of social media is key
• Ensure your social media campaign is managed across the board
• Ensure you social media activity is truly representative of you and your practice
• Tailor your Facebook page to represent you in the most effective way possible

IF YOU WOULD LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION or help regarding your website and how it can transform your business, call Charles Southey, operations director at
Digital Results, using any of the below.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 01920 444 780
Twitter: @csouthey

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