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As part of our continuing relationship with Dr Edward Zuckerberg, here is the first in a series of articles written by Ed exclusively for 1stAvailable, sharing his thoughts on social media and online interaction as it relates to healthcare practitioners engaging better with their patients, past current and prospective.

 

 

You’ve got to get them to “like” you before they can love you.

You’ve left the dinosaur era.  No more print ads, Yellow Pages, Val-paks, Pennysavers or direct mail campaigns.  You’ve just eliminated $10,000 from your advertising budget and are ready to go full swing electronic marketing.  You allocated a portion of the money you saved to an SEO (search engine optimization) campaign, started Facebook and Twitter pages for your office and you expected the phones to start ringing off the wall and the email appointment requests to be jamming your inbox.  But it’s not happening.  What’s wrong?

 

The same thing happened a few years ago when I bought this great stationary bicycle and converted the basement to a home gym.  A few months later I looked in the window and saw the same flab and bulging waistline and proclaimed that the bicycle was a failure.  The real problem of course was that I wasn’t using it regularly and watching my diet.  It did serve as a great place to hang things from the laundry that I didn’t want to go through the dryer!  Similarly, just having a Facebook page  is not like Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams where the voice proclaims about his fantasy baseball diamond “If you build it, they will come.”  In order for your page to generate the results you want, you will need to produce a quality product to engage your users and attract new ones.  Your fans’ newsfeed is a competitive arena, where brands that they like and posts from their friends are vying for a top spot.  Your content needs to be informative, fun and worthwhile (not necessarily in the same post) to get them to engage with your posts (like, comment or share).  If you are merely putting filler content posts that don’t stimulate, inform or otherwise engage your users, your posts will soon be buried low on their newsfeed, that is, if it makes it there at all.

 

Facebook uses an algorithm, known as Edge Rank, to determine which brands’ posts or which friends’ updates get high placement into the newsfeed of a particular user.  Facebook wants the user experience to be the best it can be so that users will stay logged in for hours (which they do) and generate lots of page views which ultimately generate more advertising revenue for the company.  They don’t quite have the manpower to read every status update or post that is out there and determine what would be interesting for its’ users and this is where Edge rank comes in.  The formula uses a combination of factors including how many times the user has engaged with a particular brand or friend before, whether someone is a family member or indicated as a close friend, and the popularity or viral-ness of a given post as determined by how many likes, comments and shares a post obtains.  If something has created a lot of engagement in the form of multiple likes or comments by other fans or friends of the “postee” then Edge Rank assumes this is good content and automatically bumps it up on the newsfeed.  Businesses also have the option to promote a post for a fee, which can be as little as $5 for a single post, dependent on how many “likes” the page has and what percentage of the fans they would like to reach via their newsfeeds.  This promotion is a way to boost the appearance of content whether or not the Edge Rank thinks it’s worthwhile.

 

While putting great content up is mandatory to keep your fans, getting them to like you initially is the real trick.  A dental practice needs a base of about 300 fans on their page to really have the beauty of social media marketing get in to high gear.  Considering that the average user has 300 friends in their network and you have the ability to market to the friends of your fans and tap into those potential customers with the implied referral that Facebook will give when your message reaches them, having 300 fans gives you a reach of 90,000 (300 x 300) potential word of mouth referrals!

 

Here’s my list of top ten things you can do to attract more likes or fans to your page:

1 ) Use photos wherever possible.  People love to look at pictures and great photos will catch their eye quicker than a lot of text.

2 ) Have an attractive cover page.  Like a striking reception area in your office, the cover page is the first thing they see when they visit your page and it’s your only chance to make a great impression and want them to stay.  Be aware of the panoramic layout and use it to your advantage.

3 ) Tell your story.  This is an opportunity for people to find out things about you and your office that they won’t get from a visit.  From interesting human interest stuff to staff profiles to your office mission.

4 ) Ask your patients or visitors to your office to like you.  It’s a lot easier than directly asking them to refer their friends, but with the same end result.  Offer them reasons to like your page (incentives are great) and have plenty of signage in the office encouraging them to like you.

5 ) Join the conversation!  When people engage with your post, chirp in and add meaningful responses.  This will encourage them to further engage.

6 ) Respond to all comments.  Absolutely.  Good ones, bad ones and neutral.  Show them that you (or a staff member) is aware of their engagement and that they are not posting into thin air.  Your page will become one of their favorite go to places if they know they will get a response.

7 ) Be short, sweet and conversational.  Keep your posts to 140 characters or less.  If you have a message that’s longer than that, it belongs in a blog or article that you can link to with a catchy introduction or photo link.  People don’t have the time and are turned off when they see a tome of text.

8 ) Provide value with your custom content.  As I mentioned above, you are competing for a great spot in their newsfeed.  The kiss of death is when they delete your future posts from their newsfeed.  Then you will have lost the main benefit of having them as a fan, the ability to tap into their network.

9 ) Show your community involvement.  Dentists are great at giving back to the community, doing pro bono work for some less fortunate individuals, or volunteering their time and professional skills.  Most of your patients and fans don’t know this side of you and posting about it is a great way for them to find out.

10 ) Integrate Social Media into everything you do.  Anything that has your office information (business cards, letterheads, return addresses, office signage, email signatures) should include the URL to your Facebook page: www.facebook.com/amazingdentist

 

Now watch the likes on your page grow and soon you’ll see the benefits of social media as the ideal way to both internally and externally market your practice going forward.  Future blog posts will be aimed at specific posting, promoting and advertising techniques to help you achieve your goals with social media.

- Dr. Edward Zuckerberg

 


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