Social media management consultant, Gemma Starkey, also known as Miss Social, shares some suggestions as to how to improve your social media game.
When I first started out in dentistry, I remember dentists discussing whether they should have a website. Was it really needed? And I feel as though we’re at the same juncture now with social media. People wonder if social media is needed, but this is how patients do their research. They want to be reassured they’re making a good decision. They want to know what’s said about us online and they turn to social media for that.
In the UK 84% of the population is now on social media and they spend two hours every day there. So, this is where our patients hang out. Being online offers dental practices an opportunity to communicate. With digital marketing channels such as social media, you can reach a much larger audience nowadays.
What to post?
There’s a range of things that people can and should be posting. I call these the content pillars. So, we want to be posting dental information, information about the practice, along with posts to personalise the brand; ones that take people behind the scenes. In addition, we want posts that are topical. Halloween, Christmas, Easter, those sorts of things. We need to create posts that patients can relate to.
Social media is about creating content that strengthens the bond between you and your patients, or you and new people. If you think about why people go online, it’s usually to be entertained. While we don’t want to step away from being professional, we also don’t want to fall into the trap of only having one type of content, as that can be a turnoff for some audiences. So, I like to use a variety of different content types to keep it fresh for the people viewing it.
It’s about finding the perfect recipe. Using a variety of content types but also rethinking the way you showcase that material. So, if you are posting something educational, for example, just sharing an image of somebody brushing their teeth is not always engaging. However, if you post a photo of the dentist holding the toothbrush, someone people recognise, then that is far more engaging.
However, we’re at the mercy of the people in charge of the of social media platforms and they favour particular types of content. At the moment, that’s video. So, with educational content, we should now start to think about how best to share that. Rather than just posting text, try filming a short video on flossing. It’s also more personal, and social media platforms prefer that. The social media algorithm will automatically filter whether you’re putting out a post or a video, so you will get higher rankings for the video.
When I started out, I went on a lot of different courses. Our practice needed a video and we had been quoted £3,000 -£4,000 for it. And while we wanted the video, we didn’t have that much within our marketing budget. Fortunately, at the time we were in the EU and they had lots of free courses available to help businesses, so I got a lot of free training. One video course was led by a BBC cameraman who taught us the whole sequence from writing out a video script to recording it and editing it. So, I would find out what we needed, go and find a course, get trained and implement it.
Although we are no longer in the EU, there are still courses available. I recently completed a qualification in digital marketing and that again, was a funded course from the government. It’s offered to people that are either self-employed or to some small businesses, but there are a lots of learning platforms online now so people can have a look and sign up for some training.
Introduce a social media calendar
Social media is a bit of a beast. It’s very hungry for content, so it needs to be a team effort. It can be led by one person, but that individual needn’t be the one who films all the content. They can be responsible for deciding what content’s needed and tasking other team members to film or photograph it.
One thing that can help practices significantly is the use of a social media content calendar. This is a calendar of all the notable dates throughout the year. So, those are things that happen every year, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Bonfire Night and so on. They get added to the calendar along with national days such as International Women’s Day, Movember, Menopause Awareness Day etc. It’s no use posting about tooth whitening on National Book Day, as the pictures in most people’s social media feeds are filled with children dressed up as children’s book characters. As a dental practice, you could showcase a photo of your child patients at the practice all dressed up. That post will reach more people, as it’s more relevant and engaging. So, you can see the power of using a social media calendar.
You can also include dental-related milestones to show off your expertise. Such as how long you’ve been dental phobias certified or whether you are a BDA good practice member. So having a content calendar is a great way to start. However, it’s best not to wait until the day of the event to film the content. For most things, you can film in advance. Add an extra 30 minutes onto the practice meeting and take your photos or videos then because in a busy day-to-day surgery, not many people have got time to do the social media that’s needed.
Even if you’ve no immediate plans to be active on social media, I suggest you still sign yourself up to some of the platforms. I know lots of practices that know TikTok is important but aren’t active on it yet. You can still sign up for an account. It doesn’t mean you have to post, but at least you have your name saved.
You could have a team meeting and ask if anyone would like to take on the role, then have a think about the content calendar. If you can’t do it, then talk to somebody who can. Even if it’s an informal chat to get information. They can assess where you are and give you advice about next steps. You don’t have to take that advice, but it’d be good to know your options.
Gemma Starkey is a dental nurse who took a detour from the usual progression route of a dental nurse into the business side of dentistry. Her love for dental marketing and flair for social media led to establishing Miss Social, her dental social media marketing company.
More than a decade later, she has refined her skills in social media marketing, helping dentists and their teams to shine on social media.
As an ex dental nurse, she understands the pressures the whole team are under. Her goal with Miss Social is not to add to your to-do list but to be that extra team member that – takes care of it and does a great job.
In her free time, she can be found having adventures with her three children. She loves cooking, running, hot yoga and learning about creative ways to use social media.