Six Social Media Tools You Should Be Using
Social media— it could be the biggest buzzword to hit the dental profession in decades. However, the practical reality of how to incorporate social media into your marketing plan can be elusive. Here are six new social media updates, features and networks that you should start using in the second half of 2012.
- Facebook – Use the new pages for business
Facebook recently launched the chronological Timeline layout for business pages, a new design that was phased in to personal profiles at the end of 2011. The update eliminates the need to create custom features like tabs and landing pages on your business Facebook page. That means you no longer have to hire a designer to replicate the look and feel of your website—a simple upload of a cover and profile photo goes most of the way toward customizing the look of a new page.
- YouTube – Dial in your channel
YouTube is now the Internet’s second-largest search engine. More than sixty hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and over four billion videos are viewed each day! Dentists around the globe are realizing that offering short videos on their websites and YouTube channels can be an effective part of an overall search engine optimization strategy. The videos on the practice website play into Google’s algorithmic preference for fresh, relevant content so your practice is listed higher on Google searches. And the videos posted directly on YouTube drive YouTube search traffic to the practice website as well.
- Google+ – Stay in Google’s good graces
Today, Google automatically creates a Google+ profile for anyone with a YouTube, Google or Gmail account. While it doesn’t come close to matching Facebook’s popularity, its Google affiliation still makes it a great tool for developing inbound links. Building your practice’s Google+ business page offers you many opportunities to feature videos, share photos and images and create direct inbound links, all of which are incredible drivers of search engine optimization. It’s just one more way to help patients easily find you and connect with your practice online.
- Google Places – Get your practice on the map
Not to be confused with Google+, your Google Places page is your practice’s profile within Google Local/Google Maps. This profile provides the same opportunities for inbound links, images and video as Google+, and it also includes patient reviews, which can have a huge impact on your word-of-mouth referrals. Google creates a Google Places page for every business in the country, but it’s up to you to claim that profile and make sure it’s accurate. Being familiar with your Google Places profile also enables you to monitor what your patients are saying about your practice and to highlight these comments (at least the positive ones) through other social media platforms.
- Twitter – Reach into the universe of potential patients
What’s unique about Twitter is that every single word you’ve ever tweeted is public and searchable unless it was specifically marked private. That means anyone who happens to be searching for any of the keywords you’re tweeting about will find your tweets. This is an incredible way to build a loyal base of followers, regardless of whether they actually know you or not. And because about half of Americans don’t have a dentist, if your Twitter followers are in your local area, they certainly have the potential to become your patients when they’re ready.
- Pinterest – Reach the dentist’s dream target market
Not only did Pinterest grow to 18.7 million users in March 2012 from its launch in March 2010, but it’s also a known hub for the dental practice’s ultimate target demographic: moms. Moms love “pinning” stories, photos and articles to their Pinterest boards. For dentists who have a true general or family practice, and especially for pediatric dentists and orthodontists, Pinterest is the latest addition to the practice’s social media arsenal.
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