Traditionally, the only way the vast majority of patients found an endodontist was through a referring dentist. Now, social media is changing this process and dental specialists should take note.
One of the best things about the internet revolution is the power that it has given each of us to make informed consumer decisions. With just a few minutes and a smartphone, we can search for and compare all the options in our city for whatever we need — healthcare included.
The ability to “do our own research” is a significant contributing factor that’s changing the traditional relationships between endodontists, referring dentists and patients. There’s a rise in self-referrals as people increasingly take it upon themselves to compare practices’ online reviews, digital testimonials, and social media pages.
There are so many different ways that people research your practice online that it can be difficult to know how you, as an endodontic practice, should best enhance your digital presence. By focusing your efforts on these three social media marketing fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to helping patients find you — and better ensuring that those referrals that come from general dentists actually end up scheduling with you.
1. Manage Your Digital Footprint
What do we mean by “digital footprint”? Essentially, it’s what comes up about you and your practice in search engines. It’s the “online real estate” that people typically use to gather information about healthcare providers — much of which comes from Google, review sites, and social media sites like Facebook and Linkedin.
What are the first results that appear when you search your name, and/or your practice name on Google? The results may include your website, your LinkedIn profile, or your practice’s page on a reviews site like Healthgrades. This is a great way to see where you have the highest visibility, and identify opportunities to increase your activity on pages you would like to rank higher.
However, with every social media or reviews service your practice is on, there is an expectation of accessibility, participation and transparency that potential new patients have of you. Make sure that your practice information is always current, and regularly check for and respond to all reviews, messages and comments.
2. Post the Right Content Mix
Having a practice blog and social media pages is virtually meaningless if they are not constantly supplied with relevant, engaging content. It doesn’t do any good to just post something generic and stale once a week — in fact, it can even give the impression that you are unavailable and unresponsive.
What you should be posting are things that showcase your practice culture, your involvement in the community and your desire to build lifelong healthcare relationships with patients. Prospective new patients don’t want to know so much about the root canal procedure itself, rather that the people performing it have a passion for endodontics and going the extra mile. Involve your whole team and spotlight how each member contributes to the success of your practice.
Many endodontists report significant increases in self-referrals after becoming more active on social media channels. When your pages are constantly updated with new and engaging content, you look ready to do business and welcome new patients.
Of course, whenever your practice shares a photo that includes a patient, make sure to use a simple HIPAA consent form to get your patient’s permission before using the photo for marketing purposes.
3. Ask Your Patients for Help
While branding content is great for nurturing personal connections, it does little to push your name to a wider audience. For that, you need marketing content — and when your patients participate, they can be your practice’s greatest advocates.
When patients share a photo taken in your practice on their own social media accounts, their friends and family — who trust their recommendations — will see it. It’s an instant credibility and awareness boost with the people most likely to become new patients.
Obtaining positive Google, Facebook, and Healthgrades reviews is one of the best things you can do to build your online presence. Each week, identify a few patients who love your practice and you suspect would be happy to leave you a review. Assign a team member to request a review from each one, and follow up on how it goes. One or two reviews written in-practice from a smartphone are better than dozens of promises from patients to write reviews after they’ve left.
Approaching social media and patient participation as an endodontist entails some slight, but important differences from what a general dentist would do. Patients commonly go to general dentists for routine checkups, which can easily be turned into fun, lighthearted social media content.
However, when people see an endodontist, it’s typically because there’s a problem — they’re in pain, and in no mood to think about social media or reviews. Sometimes, the ideal time to ask is when they come in for a follow-up appointment and are feeling great!
With over 90 percent of consumers using search engines and social media to find healthcare providers, your endodontic practice’s digital presence is more important than ever. Improving in these key areas will help you gain digital traction online where it matters most — and in turn, help grow your business.
About the Author: Adrian Lefler is a dental marketing expert and one of the founding members of My Social Practice. My Social Practice is a digital dental marketing company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Adrian is passionate about helping dental practices grow. If you’d like to book Adrian or one of the other members of My Social Practice’s speaking team, you can do that HERE. Interested in learning more about the benefits of SEO for dentists, our dental websites service? Learn More Here.