How social media works
Social media platforms want your attention. In fact, they need it. Your attention is the product, and brands and advertisers pay big money for it. While we mindlessly—or mindfully—scroll through our social feeds, we are being sold to. If we aren’t selling, we’re being sold to. Social media platforms rely on their users to create and share content that captures our attention, and algorithms are designed to keep us coming back for more and engaged for longer. The more engaging, authentic content you post and the more you interact with your followers, the more growth you’ll see. It’s all about time and attention. Understanding this helps formulate an effective strategy for growth and enables you to set realistic goals.
When you realize you should be viewing your business like a brand that sells and that you can be seen as a content creator and influencer, your understanding of how to make social media work for you changes dramatically. If you feed the machine with consistent and interesting content, you’ll grow.
People trust people they view as authentic and competent, and social media is an exceptional platform on which you can display your authenticity and competency. People buy from people they know and like, not someone who is overtly selling them products and services.
When you share your knowledge and expertise with other people, when you show that you’re human and relatable, and when you share honestly, people appreciate what you have to offer. If they’re in need of a product or service you offer, they will likely buy from you. They aren’t buying your treatment; they’re buying you and your brand.
So, how do we do this in our office and through our social media? One word: Transparency
- I show patients what to expect before they come in
- I let them envision themselves going through the process
- They come in understanding the steps involved and what’s possible
- My team and I create content that answers questions and shows people exactly what happens before, during, after, and behind the scenes
Transparency and authenticity are the two best and quickest ways to build trust with your audience. When they know who you are and what to expect from an experience with you, they come ready to buy what you have to offer. You don’t have to “sell” them anything.
Reviews and Social Proof
One of the best parts about social media is the ability to establish social proof. Studies have shown the powerful impact of social media and reviews: people use these to determine their level of trust in a brand. You likely already know how important reviews and word of mouth are to your business. Social media gives you another venue through which to establish this same social proof.
Social proof and how you present yourself and your brand on social media should be an essential part of your marketing. People with a large social media following are perceived as the go-to expert and as people of influence. Influencer culture should not be underestimated or overlooked when developing your strategy. Influencers are the new celebrities, and people perceive a person with a large social media following to be busy and in demand, or, good at what they do. This means as your followers increase, the more you’ll be seen as an influencer. When it comes to social media, you have a limited time to capture someone’s attention during their endless scroll. It’s all about perception and attention. You decide how you’re perceived. Control your own narrative so you can cultivate social proof that works for you.
Social media is a part of the way we communicate and do business now. It’s the new word of mouth. Actually, it’s the new word of mouth on steroids. Years ago, when analyzing our practice data and ROI of marketing, word of mouth was always number one. We’d consistently think of original and creative ways to get more word-of-mouth referrals. Social media as word of mouth means that you now have a broader reach and the ability to enter so many more conversations. Today, social media is the go-to word-of-mouth machine. Use it wisely.
Kids have adults too
When I was concerned about getting on TikTok because everyone said it was an app for kids, one of my patients told me something that opened my mind. My patient was a YouTuber, and he told me “kids have adults too.” Repeat that a few times.
“Kids have adults too.”
It’s not a typo. It really took me a few times to really appreciate and understand what he said.
Even if your demographic is older people, they have younger people in their life who are on social media. It’s just like word of mouth.
Imagine this scenario: An older person complains about missing teeth or bad teeth, and a younger person who is close to them says, “Hey, I just saw this video on Instagram (or TikTok) from this dentist who is doing really good work. I’ve been following them for a while, they give people beautiful smiles. The doctor and team seem approachable, and they even liked one of my comments. Maybe they can help you.”
It may sound far-fetched, cheesy, or laughable, but this has happened to us on many occasions.
The first patient who found me on TikTok and accepted treatment was an Ivy League graduate with a doctorate degree. The second was a nurse, and the third person to accept treatment was a physician. There are a lot of younger people on these apps, but older people are on them too—and all of the young kids have adults in their life.
The new way of doing business
People have always wanted to know who they’re doing business with, and they buy from people they like. In fact, most people look you up online before they schedule an appointment with you. Today, social media is a part of the online space that patients are using to learn who you are before choosing to commit to you.
Telling your story, showing patients you’re a relatable human, and letting people feel like they’re a part of your brand is a great way to make yourself approachable and likable. Building your social media presence is all about authenticity and transparency. People appreciate when you pull back the curtain and when you’re open and honest and share with them who you are and what you do.
We’ve been very transparent about our pricing, the steps we take with each patient, and the procedures we do. When people schedule a consult, they know and understand what to expect in terms of payment, process, and results. But, more importantly, they know what to expect from us, our culture, and our service. They come in feeling like they already know us. What is more comforting than working with someone who you feel like you know and trust?
As your brand grows, you will see your circle of influence expand. Social media has connected people from all over the world, and patients are getting very comfortable travelling for procedures. As your brand grows, you will start to see patients from different parts of the US and abroad. Before seeing out-of-town travelling patients, make sure all of your systems and protocols are locked in to maximize the time they are in the office.
Virtual consultations have become a game changer for us. We started doing virtual consults with Smile Virtual. We also consult with patients through email, FaceTime®, Zoom, WhatsApp, Messenger, and more. Virtual consults have helped us schedule more consults, screen patients, and expand our reach. We have one team member dedicated to consulting with patients, and with technology, we can now see twice as many consultations as we were able to see in person.
AI and the algorithm
Remember when we all thought that AI (artificial intelligence) and computers were going to take over? I do. Flash forward to today, and you can find almost anyone throwing around the term “algorithm” like it’s a regular part of the layman’s lexicon. That’s because it is. Most people have a general idea of what “the algorithm” is, a step-by-step program or code that is used to solve a problem. Search engines and social media platforms use algorithms to sort through all the content that is posted in order to determine which content is relevant and will be shown more frequently to its users. Basically, “the algorithm,” something that is equally as abstract as it is concrete.
People are always trying to figure out how to work with the algorithm and base their content on what works well for it. Of course, we all want to be at the top of people’s feeds. But, the truth about it is that the real key to social media is to consistently feed the machine quality content. AI and algorithms will always control what gets shown when, but if you really want to see success, feed the machine quality content consistently.
The future is video and voice
This is one reason why I started a Podcast for consumers interested in cosmetic dentistry. I think Podcasts may eventually help ranking in google searches. Voiceover is a great tool to have access to within social media platforms. It’s very cool to watch videos and hear the creator’s voice tell a story.
Video content is on the rise. Everything from short form (1 minute and less) to long form video content is popular and incredibly effective. That’s why it’s important to be comfortable in front of the camera. YouTube has been consistently growing and is such a valuable resource for video content.
Almost all platforms, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc., have a dedicated section for short form video. We have short attention spans. It’s just a fact. Short form video is a great way to get engaging, effective content in front of people in a form and timeframe that will reach them. Many people watch videos and scroll through their social media in quiet environments, so it’s always a good idea to include closed captions.
You just need an iPhone®
The beauty of wanting to start and do social media is that you don’t need multiple—or any—fancy pieces of equipment. You can shoot, edit, and post all of your content with an iPhone®. With a little bit of care and planning, anyone can post exceptional social media content.
Dentists as brand ambassadors, influencers, and content creators
Influencers are the new celebrities, and there is a space for dentists here, too. It’s common for dentists who are popular on social media to be brand ambassadors not just for dental companies but for many different types of brands. Dentists are becoming Influencers and content creators with very large followings. As social media grows and the popularity of personal branding grows, this will become more and more common. Spend time cultivating your personal brand to grow your following based on authenticity and transparency, and there will be room for you in the influencer space.
The future is about storytelling
Storytelling has been the heart of humanity for centuries, and it will remain so. At the core of everything you do and post should be one consistent element: story. You’re telling your story. The story of how your patients’ lives have been changed by your work. The story of how your audience’s lives will change by associating with you. Always tell your story.
Want more? Check out my Social Media Marketing for Dentists e-book!