Fear of missing out – is Christmas the ideal time for a social media detox?

Woman not taking a social media detox over ChristmasShaz Memon explores whether Christmas could be the perfect time for a social media detox.

The essence of good online dental marketing lies, of course, not only in the quality of content of your social media posts, but also in their frequency. Posting regularly maximises opportunities for dentists to promote their practice to potential patients – high engagement requires high input.

But how important is this consistency over the Christmas holidays? With the family waiting on you to make your next move in this year’s ‘must have’ board game or to join them in the annual amble round the park, would it not be wiser to take a social media detox, drop your smartphone into a lidded box and unwrap it only once the celebrations are over?

Social media, however, is such an integral part of social fabric, it is almost impossible to live life without it. Compulsive for some and a necessary evil for others, it’s also an essential tool in any marketing strategy.

Those of us running a business rarely wish to drop the reins – whatever the occasion. For those at the helm of a growing dental practice, relinquishing control is not an option. And isn’t the hiatus between 24 December and 2 January a perfect time to capture the imagination of those people with time on their hands, resolutions on their mind and a desire in their heart for a smile makeover?

If people are scrolling through the accounts of your rivals, who continue to post before and after photos, seasonal offers and a call to action, won’t you be missing a trick if you choose to take a social media detox for a few days?

New Year means fresh patients and if your online activity ceases – and your competitor’s flourishes – there’s bound to be a heart-sink feeling of lost opportunity.

Getting FOMO

The fear of missing out – or FOMO as it is commonly known – is nothing new. Marketers have been using this panic attack-inducing concept to sell products and services to consumers for decades, whilst the acronym was added as a word to the Oxford Dictionary as recently as 2013.

FOMO is best described as an all-consuming feeling of anxiety brought on by our cognitive and emotional ability to recognise potential opportunities – either to have fun or, in this case, earn more business.

With a burning desire to capitalise on the nation’s downtime, we might perceive our relationship to social media as an essential component of our Christmas celebrations.

‘Carpe diem’, or ‘seize the day’. In this 24/7 online world, why should the festivities interrupt our marketing opportunities?

According to Anxiety UK, 45% of Brits say they feel worried or uncomfortable when unable to access email or social media accounts.

Indeed, there is a huge bank of research evidencing links between social media and mental health. Research suggests time spent online can be isolating and psychologically damaging, with blue light exposure from our smartphones impacting negatively on our sleep patterns.

As a recent study reveals, teenagers spending more than three hours a day online double the risk of mental health problems compared to those who avoided social media. Elsewhere, studies link it to envy, lower self-esteem and social anxiety.

Evidence suggests that those who took a break from Facebook for one week ultimately reported feeling less depressed. They also experience improved wellbeing thanks to a reduction in exposure to news consumption and finding the time to engage in healthier activities.

Time for reflection

We all need to take a social media detox once in a while. It has an incredible power to take over our lives to the degree that switching off become an alien concept. FOMO has the ability to trap us into a mindset that time away is considered ‘wasted’ time.

However, a marketing strategy should always factor in time for reflection, so we can consider and address the following:

  • The success of engagement (and uptake of chosen treatments) with our targeted audience
  • The style of our writing and relevance of commonly used hashtags
  • Adding to the portfolio of practice images
  • Creating clickable links
  • The development of fresh ideas for both organic and paid social media marketing
  • Building on existing brand awareness
  • Which platforms are working best and why
  • New website content – adding to blogs, updating patient testimonials and introductions to any new staff members and so on
  • Resetting your relationship with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Assess what platform works best for you and focus your efforts on this, whilst making improvements on the others.

A social media detox is not for everyone. But taking time out can sharpen our thinking. It can readdress our work-life balance and give us a healthier perspective for the year to come.

Social media detox

If a social media detox over Christmas dulls your festive spark, why not schedule some posts ahead of the holidays? Announce your social media detox. Be sure to highlight where patients can access emergency care. Schedule some ‘well-wishing’ posts over the period so you maintain a low-key presence if you must.

Many find it challenging to log off because we have invested so much effort into nurturing our online business profile.

The end of the year is always a time of reflection. So why not timetable a day or two to tweak, set and plan your dental marketing strategy for the year. Once you’ve looked over the plan, ask yourself if it reflects your target market as well as your business objectives.

Our feelings towards social networking can be ambivalent at times. But, by having a little distance from it once in a while with a social media detox, it may just create a more positive and fruitful partnership in the long term.

Shaz Memon has launched an Instagram and DIY smartphone workshop in London, which you can learn more about here – www.digimax.dental/instagram.

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