Using Facebook for the Dental Practice

Everywhere you look these days it seems a different company is asking you to “like us on Facebook”.   You may be wondering how, or if, Facebook can help your practice?  Facebook is about more than telling your friends about your sick cat, or your family’s upcoming trip to Disney World.  In fact, Facebook is a very powerful marketing tool for your business when used properly.  As of January 2012 there were 155 Million active Facebook users in the United States alone; just under 50% of the country’s entire population.  Many people assume those 155 Million users are all 13 year olds LOLing, talking about their school crushes, and complaining about the complexities of 3rd period geometry class.  You might be shocked to learn that 43% of Facebook users, almost 67 Million people, are over the age of 35.  There is no other service that gives you access to a market of that size completely free.

Having a Facebook business page is quite different than having a personal Facebook page.  You don’t accept and collect “Friends” like you do with a personal profile, rather you receive “Likes” from people and other businesses.  When someone “Likes” a business, it allows that business to push reminders, contests, pictures, videos, or any other kind of message to those people.  For example, if Sally Goodpatient “Likes” your practice, she will be able to see whatever you post on your page.  You, however, will not be sent anything Sally posts on her personal Facebook page.  If you’re dying to know the health situation of that sick cat from earlier, you’ll have to go to Sally’s personal profile page.

How is Having a Facebook Business Page Going to Benefit Your Practice?

Practice-Patient Relationship Building

Creating a more personal relationship with your patients can not only ease patient’s fears, but do what some thought was impossible, make people look forward to visiting the dentist!  Facebook company pages give you the opportunity to create and cultivate the relationships you may, or may not, currently have with your patients.  For too many practices, interaction with customers is only done in the office, or through appointment confirmation phone calls.  The goal will be to create interaction not only from your office to your patients, but from your patients to your practice.

Ease of Creation and Upkeep

A Few Clicks And You're On Your Way

While the process of putting a business page together may be a bit time consuming, it’s not difficult for someone who has a basic grasp of how Facebook works.  If it seems a bit over your head, ask your staff or family members, I’ll bet you’ve got at least one person close to you with enough knowledge to help put your page together.  Updating and maintaining a business page is very much like that of a personal profile page.  If you feel putting the page together is a bit much, feel free to call us here at Bay View Dental Lab for help.  We’re more than happy to help you with the set up.

Dental Practice Marketing

There is nothing more powerful in marketing than having a direct link to your customers.  Think of your customers’ personal Facebook pages as individual bulletin boards.  By having your company on Facebook your practice has 24 hour access to send and receive messages from each one of those bulletin boards.

Your practice’s business page can also act as a separate store front, showing patients all of the services your office offers on top of the routine check up and cleaning.  Your page also can have a very important role in your current online advertising campaign, attracting viewers to your current web site, or blog.

Things to Consider While Setting Up Your Page

The Profile Picture

When setting up your page there are a few things you will need to keep in mind.  First off, the profile picture for your business is very important.  This image is the first thing visitors are going to see when landing on your page.  One of the really great things about this image is that it can be a much larger size than the typical personal profile picture.  Be sure to use the extra space wisely.  This image can be as large as 200 x 600px, so play around with the format and see what you like best.  In the example above (Click To Enlarge), Dr. David Foster shows us a great use of this space.  Notice how he presents his company logo, contact information, a call to action, and a pair of warm smiles in the profile picture area.

Facebook Places

Make sure you claim your location on Facebook Places.  Facebook Places is a service offered by Facebook showing your location to everyone.  This service also adds a geotag to your office’s physical location, letting people find the actual physical location of your building without having the address.  By telling Facebook where your business is located geographically, you allow people to “check-in” to your office when they are there.  Checking in is a way for people to tell their Facebook friends where they are and make a quick comment on it.  Remember Sally Goodpatient from earlier?  Well, now she’s coming in to your office for her six-month cleaning.  When she gets to your office she “checks in” and posts “I’m at Dr. Flossoften’s, time for my cleaning!”  This short message will be read by hundreds of Sally’s Facebook friends.  Is one of them looking for a new dentist?  If so, they have an immediate qualified reference and a link to your practice right in front of them.

Photos, Photos, Photos!

Engage your customers. Show them you are willing to go the extra mile.

As you already know, a picture is worth a thousand words.  You want to use pictures of the doctor, the staff, the office itself, and other office activities to help create a better connection between your office and your patients.  Did you have an office holiday party?  How about some pictures of that canned food drive?  To your left, Dr. Stacey Hall shows off the fruits of her holiday blanket drive.

Administrative Rights and Business Info

Make sure that the doctor has full administrative rights and access to the page.  The last thing you want is a disgruntled former employee being the only person with access to a marking tool with the public reach of your Facebook business page.  You can set up multiple administrators for the page, giving the practice owner the ability to remove access and/or change the log in information whenever it’s needed.  You will need a personal Facebook page to gain administrator access, if you don’t have one you could ask a family member, or someone close to you to be an administrator.

If you have a web site for your practice, make sure to link it from your page.   The Facebook business page should never be a replacement for your practice’s website.  If you do not have a web site for your practice, this is a fantastic, cost-effective way to gain web presence.  Much like your web page, it should have all of your practice’s pertinent information in an easy to access area.  There are sections to add brief descriptions of your business, contact information, a mission statement, additional website addresses, awards you’ve received, even a map of your practices locations.

After you receive 25 “likes” of your company’s page, you have the option of creating a free vanity URL for your page.  Much like a vanity license plate, a vanity URL will allow you to personalize the actual web address of your Facebook page.  This makes it easier for your customers to remember and find in search.

In part 2 of this piece we’ll discuss the ins-and-outs of using and utilizing your page.  We’ll also discuss how to use your page as a powerful marketing tool.  One more thing before we go…Like us on Facebook!

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