The rules of online engagement

Dental Design explains how to use the internet, particularly social media, to build better relationships with patients.

Does another practice’s website make you green with envy? Are its thousands of Facebook followers making you wonder where you’re going wrong? Online marketing can seem an intensely competitive field and if you feel you cannot keep up because of a) time and b) money, you might ask yourself ‘Should I bother?’

The answer is always ‘Yes!’ when it comes to managing your online presence. However, bigger – and more expensive – isn’t always better. A website that looks cutting-edge-amazing but doesn’t give patients what they need won’t boost a bottom line; similarly, a huge number of Facebook followers is a vanity metric if none of them are engaging with posts.

The ‘E’ word

Engagement is the key here. A good practice website should be functional as well as beautiful and – crucially – promote engagement with patients. It should be informative and ‘fresh’, to encourage people to keep clicking back. A blog is one of the best (and best value) ways to keep website content relevant and increase traffic to your page, and this is simple to action.

The same applies to Facebook – which is statistically the most popular choice of social media for a dental practice, according to (2018). Love it or hate it, there are over two billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide and over 1.5 billion of these log on every day, (2019) says. Like any business, your Facebook page should be an essential component of your marketing strategy, a platform that reflects your brand values, provides information and offers a forum for people to engage with you. It is also far better to have fewer followers who regularly like, share and comment on your posts rather than thousands who mostly ignore them. You’ll find your profile grows organically this way.

If you have no idea what to post, a dental marketing agency will help you put a plan together, to find out what works. Fun facts, testimonials, competitions – these are all ideas to play with. Look at what connects people, review and adapt accordingly. There is effort involved, but get it right and the rewards will be wonderful and long lasting.

Control the online elephant!

Taking control of your online marketing is important because you cannot control the internet. Which brings us to the elephant in the room, and the reason why many dental practices choose to ignore a lot of what happens online. What about when engagement isn’t positive? What happens if a patient Googles your practice, and finds negative feedback via Google reviews? Facebook has one feature that fills many businesses with terror – the ‘recommendations and reviews’ section, where people can click stars and/or provide feedback. Maybe you have even had a bad review or nasty comment about someone from the dental team posted on your Facebook page.

Embracing negative comments is a better strategy than running from them, and it all comes back to that word again – engagement. We’ve all used Google, Facebook and the like to research restaurants, hotels and everything in between. When we see a bad review, or negative comment, what do we do? We scan it for things like tone, asking ‘Is this too personal and too negative to be legit?’ and look at the date. Is it too old to matter? Does a pattern of bad reviews turn all positive after a certain time? Does one negative comment stand out in a sea of good? Did the business respond, with an acceptable explanation of what happened?

To put it back to the dental context, you wouldn’t ignore a patient if they were standing right in front of you to complain, so don’t ignore negative online feedback either. See it as simply another way to engage, to communicate, even to find out what makes your patients tick and how to do things better. Monitoring online reviews doesn’t have to be time-consuming either; Easyreview, developed by Dental Design, is an exciting new tool to manage them. It will alert you as soon as it sees a bad one to give you a chance to explain, remedy and turn a negative into positive engagement.

It’s all good

Successful online marketing is about finding good-value, hard-working options that help you engage better with the most important people to your practice – your patients. Don’t be intimidated by the competition! Use the internet, including social media, to connect better and build relationships. Online marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or complicated – the right tools will make it stress-free too.

To find out more about Dental Design’s services, visit, email [email protected] or call 01202 677277.

References (2018) accessed May 2019 (2019) accessed May 2019

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