Social media allows for something that’s never been available to businesses using traditional marketing in the past. Social media allows you to connect…to talk…to create…an ongoing dialogue with your target audience!
Unlike print ads and direct mail outs that are static and limited in their information or even networking events that are one time meetings…social media allows you to “talk” with your audience…24/7.
This creates incredible opportunities to be visible and responsive to your market! But if you’re not careful, social media can be very overwhelming and distracting. There are the social platforms, the tools (applications, widgets, plugins, etc), social media etiquette, connecting and engaging with viewers, and the time involved…time can be a big factor!
One of the biggest mistakes practices make when starting in social media is they just jump in with no clear objectives or strategy. They aren’t sure about what they want to do and how they’re going to do it.
They’ll set up their social sites, Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn, and maybe even a blog, but they don’t know how to connect, how to listen, and more importantly…how to engage effectively. Then after a few posts, their sites just sit there and begin gathering virtual dust. I’ve been to many dental sites on twitter and noticed the date of their last tweet was months ago.
In using social media, to be effective in attracting and engaging quality followers, you must have these elements in place:
Know your target market and which social networks they are using the most
- Let’s put this into perspective: If you work out of 3 Treatment Rooms and your patient is seated in TR 3 and you’re seated in TR 2 waiting for that patient, you aren’t going to get anything accomplished, you’re not where your patient is.
So if you’re on Twitter and your target is on Facebook…see the importance? Go where the “eyeballs” are…know and be seen where your target market is.
Know and be clear about your objectives – goals – or outcome you want from social media
- What are you wanting social media to accomplish? Do you want to gain your targeted audience’s attention? Drive traffic to your practice, blog, or website? Enhance your practice’s patient services? Maybe you want to grow your practices email list
What are your objectives – what is it you want to accomplish with social media?
Create an engagement plan for using social media
- Once you’ve determined and joined the social network sites your target uses, you’ll need to determine how you are going to connect, engage, and communicate with your viewers. How often will you “tweet”, post, or update. What are your core messages you will deliver?
Social media is all about connecting, engaging, and effectively communicating which in turn empowers your viewers.
Create a social media policy for your practice
- How will you and or your employees handle social media in your practice? What’s the right way and wrong way for your employees to use social media? Who is going to be responsible for managing and overseeing your overall social media marketing?
Whether handling in-house or outsourcing to a third party, you need a social media policy in place.
One last point to bring is Safety Online: Remember: Once you’ve said it on the Internet, there’s no taking it back. A few good rules to follow:
- Never post anything you don’t want your Grandmother or children to read
- Never give out sensitive information like account numbers or social security numbers
- Never spam – you’ll be un-followed and dropped like a hot dental instrument
By creating and having your social media strategy in place first:
- You’ll know your social media objectives
- How you’re going to achieve your objectives
- An overall plan for implementing your social media strategy
These are the top elements needed in creating a winning social media strategy. What additional elements have you used in your strategy?
This article first appeared in Dental Heroes.
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