Dental Practice Marketing-Social Media MUST Knows for Dentists

Dental Practice Marketing

Social Media, People Magazine, Authenticity and You.

As promised, for all those opting into our social sites, here the BIG things dentists need to understand about this “new” media in regards to dental practice marketing.  Understanding the big picture will drive all the small details.

Fundamentally, here is NOT what this is going to do (at least right now).  Get this straight:  Social Media is NOT going to generate “boat-loads” of patients as plenty of b.s. up to their eyeballs hucksters pitching such to the profession.

There are actually more powerful things to worry about with this media beyond that simplistic concept being lied about. Social media can help but can also hurt in dental practice marketing.

Why has social media become so popular so quickly ? Humans are genetically social creatures (or at least most of us are).  Fundamentally, social organization has always been about survival.  If you hung out with other people and created friendship and empathy you were far likely to make it till the next spring or to the next watering hole.

Back up a few hundred years to “modern” times and you’ll find previous levels of “joining” and being social at heights beyond what we’re accustomed to seeing or have seen during the past 3 decades.  Clubs and organizations in those days were local affairs since communication and transportation were big issues with both finding and attending whatever it is that tickled your fancy.  That, plus lack of mass entertainment, boosted participation.

The great era of belonging locally chugged along with few problems right up until entertainment options started to increase.  Things deteriorated rapidly with the advent of radio and TV.  You can basically graph the decreased numbers of hours that citizens belonged and attended organizations with the increase in hours of TV consumption.

While religious attendance is up for some denominations, when taken as a whole, a smaller % of the population attends religious ceremonies “religiously” than in those by-gone eras.

RESULT:  We ultimately moved from an age of individual participation to one of watching OTHERS.

It’s not that somewhere along the way we suddenly stopped liking connection and organizing but that it was just easier to sit down in front of a radio or TV and be entertained without the need of being around as many others.  People Magazine has been #1 for decades because it allowed “lazy” social observation and for the “reader” to peer in on the “interesting” lives of others.

Interest and involvement is now tipping back to the other direction thanks to social media.

Millions of new linkages are happening right now.  Instead of interest being a one way street of media with media forms all controlled by someone else pushing uni directionally out into the population and as a result sucking up organizing time, everyone can be their own publisher/organizer and reach others of like-minded interest.

Suddenly we’ve gone from a few thousand one way streets radiating into the population to millions of freeway interchanges going in all directions.   AND It’s only just begun.

Social Media is MASS Organizational Power Brought to Any Individual Who Cares

Until recently there were few ways to mass people together quickly around a particular topic or interest.  Now it’s quick and easy to reach out and find groups of others, just like you, no matter how obscure your taste or interest.  Big example:  Obama and gang figured this out during the last election.  Little example:  This 4th of July weekend, Seattle was home to the Guinness Book of World Records, World’s largest “Zombie Walk.”  An endless parade of zombies—brides, roller-bladers, goths, surgeons, naughty nurses, etc. all mumbling “more brains” as they roamed the streets a few blocks from our house.  Why and HOW would so many “zombie” fans find each other, well in a word—social media.   [FYI:  The “tea-party” is one example of just that very thing happening rapidly and on a large scale..]

This same connection mechanism is playing havoc with “traditional” media.  It is a big reason readership of all kinds of things printed on shaved trees, viewership of TV shows, and listener ship of radio is declining by whole percentage points (the first time in history!).  Doesn’t mean that certain demographics aren’t still hiding out in those venues but it does mean different patterns are emerging with who watches what.

People are moving from passivity to activity via these social connection mechanisms of interest.  It translates into millions in lost advertising revenues and millions of viewing/reading hours free’d up to do other stuff.

Yes, much of that free time will ultimately be wasted on frivolous pursuits but there will be some really cool things that happen as people connect and do interesting things together.    Wikipedia is a vivid of example of what happens when millions of productive hours are freed up around a common interest and a bunch of volunteers attack a problem.   It’s likely that some dentist sub-culture, whose members might be finding each other right now, will develop answers to problems we haven’t even thought about addressing. (maybe zombie root canals?)

By the way, any group used to organizing its “believers” around one over-riding global theme is in BIG trouble since the splintering of interests and ability to connect means a guaranteed gradual devolution from influence and power.

These changes affect your dental practice. Use it to your benefit in dental practice marketing.

Like it or not, social media and these mechanisms of connecting, will play a role in how your business interacts with the world outside of it.

Particularly, when it comes to reputation and word of mouth for things that cost a lot of money (i.e. significant dental treatment).  A former coach of mine, years ago, correctly remarked that we were entering an age of authenticity where the public would put more trust in those who were authentic.  His statement was made well before social media cracked open the window to peer into who was being authentic and who was not.   Ironically, he made that statement in reference to George Bush’s “authenticity.”  At this point, it’s doubtful how much “authenticity” any of us will place in any President, potential President, or a particular political party.

How Real Authenticity Creates Business.

The side effects of public belief in authenticity can translate into all kinds of benefits.  For those who are authentic in doing what they say they will do AND producing the results they promise, and giving social proof, they stand to collect benefits both non-monetary and monetary.  This is the kind of authenticity to be thinking about for you and your practice.  This is a component of selling at premium prices.

This kind of authenticity is something to be EXPLOITING via these media.  Note:  exploit in the sense of “to take full advantage of” and applied directly to the definition of ethical selling which I define as “Getting Patients emotionally engaged in a treatment result that is GOOD FOR THEM and getting them emotionally and intellectually committed to treatment.”  If social media creates emotional involvement—you and more patients win.  PLEASE exploit this for patient’s benefit.

What can be conveyed authentically to those researching you and your dental practice?

Here’s a few:  believability via what you present to the public via staff stories, patient stories, fellow dentist stories, and your personal interests and hobbies.  Yes, that means many things WAY beyond CE or showing blood and guts surgery.  Something I’m still amazed at seeing on random Facebook pages—”hey patients look at me sticking this implant in a bloody socket!”  The former authenticity items all HELP your case more than the later with the trust level needed for patients to commit to treatment and to YOU in particular.  Everyone dentist will make you bleed but which one will you actually trust?

Mouth Meet Feet. If they don’t match, the public will sniff you out via their research. Yep, a by-product of ‘all of the above’ serves as a forceful reminder that the age where it was simple to fool people even for a small period of time is OVER.

WORD TO THE WISEST:  Mouth and feet movement must match.  Forget big brother—Google/the internet is watching and reporting back in real time.  The social sites are filling in the blanks about you and what you have been up to. Make sure in your dental practice marketing that you are getting positive news about you and your practice out there.

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