6 Social Media Strategies To Fill Schedule Gaps
If there is one thing that we know for sure, it’s that social media is influencing the decisions of dental patients. Some of the most effective marketing for dental practices is on social media.
In this article, we are going to talk through 6 social media action items that you can use right now to attract new patients, and fill your schedule gaps using the principles of persuasion.
Ready, Set, Go! The 6 Principles Of Persuasion
What role does social media play in influencing patient decisions?
It has to do with a psychological principle called social proof. Social proof is when an individual’s opinion about a subject, individual, concept, company, brand, etc; is positively or negatively effected by the opinions of others.
An example of the immense power of social proof are online reviews. Hundreds of consumer studies show that the perception of a company is altered positively or negatively based upon the reviews of other consumers. This is why almost every business hates YELP. (Why? That’s another story)
Brian Solis, a well-known speaker, author, and digital analyst said, “Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.”
Social media allows you to reach people emotionally, which is why the best dental marketing strategies include social media marketing campaigns. Strong social proof marketing strategies for dentists will result in a more thriving practice. Strong online social proof will transfer its value towards the perception of your clinical care. New patients believe you’re a better dentist if your current patients speak positively about you.
#1 Use The Principle Of Reciprocity To Build Social Media Followers
Reciprocity is when a person feels obligated to return a favor.
A successful social media strategy for reciprocity would be to give a local business in your community a “shout out” on your social media accounts!
Here’s what you do.
Visit one of your favorite local business’, snap a photo, and post the photo mentioning how much you appreciate them.
Do this for multiple businesses in your area to start building relationships.
Don’t Forget To Tag
The businesses you post and tag about will receive a notification in their social media accounts that you tagged and mentioned them. They’ll likely tag you back, which helps introduce your dental practice to their followers.
Marketing Expert Tip
Identify businesses that have customers you want as patients in your dental practice. If you want cosmetic cases and you don’t take insurance, you want to reach out to business that have that type of customer.
See Reciprocity In Action
Slave Lake Dental posted about a local boutique. Guess what? The boutique returned the favor! These two businesses are now sharing audiences and getting the word out to a larger number of local individuals.
It’s obvious how this type of persuasion marketing can help your dental practice reach new audiences.
No Time To Visit A Local Business?
If you don’t have time to visit a business and snap a photo, try this. Take a screen capture of the businesses Instagram page and share that to your account. Again, make sure to say something awesome about them and tag.
Gift Cards Are Easy And Effective Marketing Tools
Another strategy, buy a gift card from the business and run a small social media giveaway on your page. If you tag the business, they will share your post on their page.
…And maybe they’ll run the same type of offer on their page. If they don’t bring that up, you can recommend an offer. Sometimes, simply asking, makes all the difference.
#2 Use The Principle Of Scarcity To Fill Schedule Gaps
People are motivated by scarcity.
The marketing action tied to scarcity is to create a post that includes a scarcity element and then boost it to your followers and their friends.
Take a selfie-style video and explain a dental service that is unique to your practice.
Remember To Include A Scarcity Statement
In your video, emphasize that a lot of people need what you offer but you have limited appointment times available. It’s okay to create a sense of scarcity by mentioning a ‘limited amount’ or ‘offer only available until…’.
An Example Of The Scarcity Principle In Action
Precision Dental- Bowling Green posted:
Don’t Forget About Paid Social
Running ads in Facebook and Instagram is a great way to target and reach a valuable audience but it will take time and some training if you’ve never done it before.
Another way to use paid social that’s super quick is to Boost your video post to your local geographic area, which helps to push your message to people who are not following you already.
What If I Don’t Like To Take Videos Of Myself?
If you are uneasy about taking a video of yourself talking, enlist someone else on your team to take the video for you. It doesn’t always have to be the dentist that is blowing the bull horn.
Delegate… Delegate… Delegate…
If you make this fun and allot time to do it, you’re likely to have a person or two on your team that would actually love shooting the videos.
#3 Use The Principle Of Authority To Boost Social Proof
The principle of authority shows that we believe what other trustworthy and credible sources say.
The social media action item for the principle of authority is to get ONE influential current patient to talk about you to their followers. This is a type of Influencer marketing that is often used with Instagram.
How To Implement The Principle Of Authority
In your next team huddle, ask your dental team if they know of any current patients that have a large local following on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. If you’re are stumped, think of these types of patients to help you find someone: Are any of your patients’ athletes, podcasters, photographers, bloggers, musicians, artists, or stylists?
You’re not looking for a patient with tens of thousands of followers, you’re looking for patient’s with a following of between 1,000 – 10,000 followers. We call these micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are people who have a trusted localized following. The goal is to have the micro-influencer post about their visit at your office.
Why to NOT Go After Big Social Influencers?
I’m not saying don’t try, I’m just saying that we’ve tried and it’s difficult. Why? As an influencers following grows, it’s more likely that the followers are not going to be in your local area. Most big influencers, those with hundreds of thousands of followers, have an internationally following. What is the benefit of them sharing a message about your practice to a follower in Singapore?
Also, once an influencer starts to gain serious traction, they’ll expect to be paid well.
What If You Can’t Find A Influencer To Post For Free?
No problem, reach out to them and offer a free or discounted service in exchange for posting about your office. We’ve run many campaigns where the influencer posted several times in exchange for free teeth whitening.
Think about it, these people are taking selfies all day long, they’re going to want a clean white smile.
Need An Influencer Marketing Contract?
If you work out a trade arrangement you’ll want to include an agreement or contract just to make sure that the points of the relationship/deal are clear.
Don’t have a contract? You’re in luck! We have a contract that you are welcome to use. We have used this agreement with more than a hundred Instagram influencers but we TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY!!! So, you’ll want to read it thoroughly and make any edits necessary.
See Influencer Authority-Marketing In Action
The example below is a micro-influencer with few thousand followers, most of which were in the local area. Her dentist offered her a discount on veneers if she would share her experience on her social media platforms.
Notice that she shared about her new smile, tagged the practice, and talked about how much she enjoyed her experience at the office.
Here are just a few messages from her followers that she received after sharing her experience:
One More Example Of The Authority Principle
You’d think that people would trust the recommendation of their dentist because the dentist is an authority on the subject. But in the example below instead of people asking their dentist or the dental team about a treatment, they’re asking a friend online that they know and trust.
Just because you’re the official authority on dentistry doesn’t mean that potential patients trust that authority. People seek out the opinions of their trusted networks to help make decisions. The authority principle plays a critical role in improving referrals and building trust.
Remember what our favorite human robot said:
“A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message.” – Mark Zuckerburg
#4 Use The Principle Of Commitment To Improve Relationships
The principle of commitment comes into effect when people make small, voluntary, public commitments. After doing so, they are more likely to follow through with larger commitments in the future.
The social media idea action item tied to the commitment principle is simple. Ask your patients to participate in your dental marketing.
Remember To Ask For Photo Opportunities
One of the most successful social media marketing strategies is providing patients the opportunity to snap a photo with you or a team member. After implementing thousands of social media campaigns we’ve discovered a simple concept; if you ask for a photo you’ll probably get one.
Remember To Get Hipaa Consent
In the thirteen years that I’ve worked with dental social media, I’ve only heard of two situations where a patient sued a dental practice over a photo Hipaa violation, and both were in Beverly Hills.
Even though the threat is not huge, you should always get consent. If you ask a patient to take a photo and you plan on sharing it online make sure you have Hipaa consent.
How Do You Get Hipaa Consent For Photo’s The Easy Way?
You can download our free Hipaa authorization form here. Once downloaded you can print copies and have your patients sign them.
Or, you can get rid of the paper trail and do it the super-easy way with our photo-sharing app.
What To Do With Patient Photos?
Make sure that your patient has a copy of the photo and then invite them to share the photo to their own feed or story. If it feels uncomfortable to ask patients to share, lighten things up by incentivizing them with a giveaway. Explain that they will be entered to win your giveaway if they share and tag the office in the post.
How To Increase Your Social Followers With The Commitment Principle
While your patients are in your office, ask them to follow your Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok accounts. If you a practice goal and ask your patient to help you reach the goal, you’ll find that most people will do it.
The conversation could go something like this:
Another Way To Increase Followers Using The Commitment Principle
In the example below the practice at Aster Family Dental is running a contest. Notice how they’ve set up the contest. Anyone who wants, can enter. But, those patients who follow the practice on Instagram and Facebook get bonus points.
#5 Use The Principle Of Liking To Reach New Patients
This principle of liking shows that if people like you, they’re more likely to say yes.
The social media action item with the liking principle is to build relationships with others by engaging with them on social media.
One Marketing Idea That Needs Some Serious Help
Are you still sending your patients birthday cards that look like the image below? These aren’t bad, per se, but there are better ways to show patients that you care and to use the liking principle.
Commenting On Your Patients Posts Shows You Care
Blake Hadley, President of My Social Practice, recently shared a photo of his newborn twin boys. Hammons Family Dental took the time to write a short personal message to congratulate Blake and his spouse on the newborns.
Why Does Commenting Work Better Than Birthday Cards?
Everyone knows that digital birthday cards are sent automatically. There are hundreds of softwares that integrate with a dental practice’s patient management system and will send these out without a thought from the practice. Unless there is some type of personal touch, they’re often disregarded by patients.
What Does It Take To Be Consistent With Commenting?
If you or a team member could spend 5 to 10 minutes a day, everyday, commenting on posts, it would go a long way.
How To Use Hashtags And Geotags To Find Local Patients
In the examples below the geotag for ‘Lehi, Utah’ was used to see the most recent Instagram posts from people living in that area. Once identified you can follow and comment on the posts, which is a great way to show a potential patient that you care.
Post Content That Will Encourage Your Patients To Comment
When you share like-able and engaging content patients lean in. Patients like doing business with dental practices that has the same values. In the exmaple below, Dr. Peter Yi donated masks to a local hospital. We highlighted one of the comments from a patient:
Other Ways To Improve Your Like-ness
Everyone wants to feel safe, especially through the pandemic and post pandemic. In the post below dental practices show how much they care about keeping their valued patients safe. When a patient reads the post and it resonates with them emotionally, they’ll like the post.
#6 Use The Principle Of Consensus To Improve Practice Reputation
The principle of consensus is the psychological effect that people will do things when they see others doing that thing. We call this “social proof”.
An Easy Way To Use the Consensus Principle
The social media action item for this principle is to get more online reviews!
In his best selling book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, Dr. Robert C. Cialdini states, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”
More Positive Online Reviews = Greater Consensus
The issue with online reviews is that unless you ask your happy patients for reviews, you’re not likely to get one. If you are unwilling to ask, it’s more likely that the reviews that come in will be disgruntled patients.
In order to improve your online reviews you have to ask for them. It’s a little bit nerve racking for those who haven’t done it before, but it works.
How To Increase Your Online Reviews?
To get more reviews, ask patients that you KNOW are happy and will give you a positive review. A simple way to structure and stay consistent with this is to look at your schedule each day and choose one or two patients you have a good relationship. Then assign the task of asking to one person on your team. The assignment creates accountability and you’ll see much higher results.
The Easy Non-anxiety Way To Ask For Reviews
Rather than feeling like you’re begging for a review, ask for a favor. Let your patient know that your practice is trying to improve their reputation online and ask them if they’ll “help you out” by sharing their experience on Google.
The Super-Easy Non-Anxiety Way To Get More Google Reviews
Automate the process. Use a text messaging software to send the review request. This will create a link that the patient can click on and then choose where they want to give you a review. Once they choose the platform, they’re taken right to the place to click the stars and leave the review.
Make It Easy, Because Most Patients Don’t Know How To Give A Review
Automation speeds up the process of acquiring the review. What you have to remember is that most of your patients probably don’t even know how to give your practice a Google review. They don’t know where to go online or where to click. With automation it’s a simple as, click – fill out the stars – write the review. It can be done in less than a minute
How To Leverage Your Amazing Review Profile
Show off some of your great reviews on your social pages! In the example below Lake Oconee Dentistry shared a review they received, which demonstrates how safe patients feel while at the office.
Remember that online reviews are public statements that can be used in marketing your practice.
Wrapping Up The 6 Social Media Principles Of Persuasion
The benefits of social proof was coined well by Scott Cook the founder of Intuit.
Find New Patients With Help From Social Media Marketing Experts?
Running a dental practice can be mind-numbing. When you toss digital marketing on top of everything that you have to do to run your prctice efficiently, it can become overwhelming. Let the dental social media experts at My Social Practice help you!
About the Author
Adrian Lefler is an expert dental marketer and a key member of the dental marketing team at My Social Practice. My Social Practice is a dental marketing company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Adrian is passionate about helping dental practices grow. If you’d like to book one of the members of My Social Practice’s speaking team, you can do that HERE. Interested in learning more about the benefits of SEO for dental practices or our dental websites service? You can learn more here.