OVER THE YEARS some of our clients have asked for, what are commonly called, “exclusivity agreements” wherein My Social Practice agrees to only work with their particular practice in a specific geographic area. Because we’ve never offered such agreements, I thought it would be helpful for practices to understand why we believe social media marketing success in a dental, orthodontic, or eye care practice is not at all dependent on such agreements.
Reason 1: The Concept Of Push VS. Pull
Let’s start with one of the fundamental differences between traditional and social media marketing.
Exclusivity agreements are common in traditional marketing and advertising. Campaigns like direct mail, radio, billboards and television are considered “push” strategies—that is, they’re designed to push a marketing message to people who have not opted in to receiving it. These traditional marketing tactics do not take into consideration whether or not the audience wants the message… The strategy is to blast it to a geographical area with the hope of getting attention.
Typically, such tactics include a strong call to action for a discounted service. For example, “New Patient Special – Free Exam”. Without exclusivity, the result could be competing doctors producing competing offers to the same audience. Simply open up your local money mailer and find ten similar dental offers with the only differentiation being the logo and phone number. This type of advertising creates a “race to the bottom” where the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it) is the doctor who is willing to offer the biggest discount.
Obviously, exclusivity in this situation is a must. You wouldn’t want to spend $20,000 on a direct mail campaign only to find out that the vendor you’re using just sold the same campaign to a practice down the street—and her discount was $1 more!
Social media is a pull strategy. With social media, your marketing messages don’t push blindly to a geographical area. You’re targeting people who want to hear what you have to say and have opted into hearing it. These are your loyal followers on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media accounts including your valued patients who have willingly given you their email addresses. When you share marketing messages with them, and if they like the messages, they engage through commenting, Liking, +1’ing, re-tweeting and sharing. You can’t force people. If your content is good, and there’s engagement, then your messages spread. This process is similar for all social media accounts.
Reason 2: The Concept Of Likelihood
Suzie is Practice A’s patient. She has Liked Practice A’s Facebook page, meaning she follows Practice A on Facebook. For some weird reason, Suzie decides that she wants to follow Practice B’s Facebook page too, which is located across the street from Practice A. Suzie clicks the Like button on Practice B’s Facebook page. Now Suzie is following both practices.
Practice A posts something on Facebook at 9:00 am on Monday morning. At the exact same time, Practice B posts the same thing. (Now stay with me here… the timing is important.) At the exact same time, Suzie is viewing her Facebook timeline (which feeds chronologically). Does she see both posts? The answer is, nearly without exception, “no”—even considering this “perfect timing” scenario. Why?
Here’s why. Every Facebook user (all 1.4 billion of us) has his or her our own unique Facebook algorithm that determines what Facebook shows each person in his or her newsfeed. This algorithm takes into account Suzie’s engagement habits (comments, shares, Likes) and her interaction histories with both Practice A’s page and Practice B’s page. Because Facebook’s goal is to show Suzie the content she favors, the likelihood that her engagement level with both practices has been exactly the same is astronomically low.
Over the last five years, and tens of thousands of posts that we have helped practices develop and post, we’ve never heard any feedback from any practice that patients are seeing the same online content from two different practices. It just doesn’t happen.
Reason 3: Social Media Is Primarily Internal Marketing
Our research shows that the vast majority of people who follow their practice’s social media account(s) do so because they have a close personal relationship with the people in the practice. Your patients already love you. The key to social media marketing success is simply cultivating these fans and making it easy for them to share your practice story and increase your practice’s top-of-mind awareness. The valued patients that repeat and refer—the keepers—simply aren’t spending their precious time following every other practice’s Facebook page looking for a chance to jump ship when they find a discount coupon.
The Real Concern
After many years of working exclusively with dental, orthodontic, and eye care practices on their social media marketing, we’ve found that the very best way to get effective traction is to simply find ways to get your patient base to follow your social media accounts and share your content with their extended family members, neighbors, coworkers and friends. They do that through their own permission-based, trusted, highly scalable social media networks like Facebook. When one understands how social media works, it becomes apparent why the concern about exclusivity agreements is a non issue.
We understand why the question comes up. It’s because we’re all familiar with traditional marketing, having dealt with it for decades—and, we’re just learning about social media marketing (often referred to as “new marketing”). Cool.
Are You Ready To Become A Social Practice?
Are you sharing messages that people want to hear? We can help. If you’re not yet one of our valued clients, invest a few minutes to learn more about what we do and why it’s so effective. You’ll wonder why you’ve waited so long to start taking advantage of effective social media marketing in your practice.
We look forward to visiting with you.