I see many dental practice social media accounts which only focus on dentistry. On the face of it this seems a quite normal and logical thing to do, you are a dental practice, you are there to help the local people with their dental health and therefore wish to only talk about dentistry on your social media streams.
However, you are wrong in this assumption!
Social media is a communication tool, it’s a mechanism to communicate with PEOPLE.
People with emotions.
People with feelings.
People who want to interact with a person.
“We buy from people we like and we like people that we are like!”
Just imagine you get into a conversation with someone over a relaxing drink in the pub one evening, you just go straight in and start talking about dentistry. No small talk, no humanity to what you are saying, no interaction or engagement with them.
You ware just talking AT them, not WITH them.
It would seem quite unnatural to do this wouldn’t it? You may be even labelled as a bore (oh, heaven forbid!)
Social media is the same, in fact the clue is in the title, it’s SOCIAL media.
So we’ve looked at the human side of things, now let’s look at the empirical and evidence based marketing side of things.
Business relationships grow through three distinct stages .
- Actor bonds. These are bonds between the actors in any communication, the bonds develop as the communication moves along its natural path.
- Activity links. Once the actors in the relationship have connected and trust has been developed then the potential customer will engage in some form of activity. This could often be reading a blog post, reading an article, liking a Facebook page or perhaps visiting your website to read your dental health blog, it could even be an activity which involves the potential patient looking at another resource which you have shared.
- Resource ties. This is the final stage in the relationship building process. These are where a potential customer commits a definite resource to you, this will often be money and will almost always include time.
You cannot, I repeat CAN NOT bypass this process.
Think about it from a social point of view, let’s say I was single and saw a girl in a bar that I fancied, I may move over to her and we’d begin chatting. The actor bonds would develop. As the conversation went on she may engage in an activity with me like allowing me to buy her a drink (Activity link). Once this was done she may then decide to come out for dinner with me and commit a resource of money and time (resource ties).
Trying to skip this process and go from the first glance to going out for dinner with someone may result in a slap in the face!
Trying to skip this process in your marketing may also result in a virtual slap in the face with your potential patients leaving your social media stream.
Dentistry is about trust and relationships, it’s about helping people in the long-term, not short transactional relationships with someone buys something and then disappears out of the shop never to be seen again. You want to have long-term relationships where you can help look after your patients and so this relationship marketing approach is the ONLY approach you should be using.
This relationship marketing approach becomes impossible if you only talk about dentistry.
It becomes impossible to talk with someone on a human level.
It becomes impossible to engage with people at a human level, it therefore becomes impossible to use social media effectively!
Examples of non-dental posts in the actor bonds category which are really great for beginning this relationship building process are things like:
- Celebrations of birthdays at the practice
- Team members getting married.
- Patients sending in testimonials and reviews.
- Sharing using images and content from other places on Facebook to create engagement.
- Talking about films and books that you like.
- Talking about things you like to do at the weekend.
- Sharing general images which people like such as motivational images or scenes of beautiful landscapes, these are great ways to invite comments and get people to engage.
So the simple rule is this…
Stop selling and start engaging!
And lastly, don’t be a dental bore, you may just get a ‘virtual’ slap in the face… Hakansson, H. & I. Snehota, Eds. (1995) “Developing Relationships in Business Networks” International Thomson Business Press.