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    How to use social media as free advertising

    Facebook can be a powerful tool for attracting more patients to your practice.

    What if there were a way to advertise for free and bring in droves of new patients? Any dentist would jump at the opportunity.

    Unfortunately, offering free dentistry is the only real way to attract lines of new patients wrapped around your building. But, by intelligently using social media platforms such as Facebook, you can exponentially spread your name, reputation and explanation of services all over town — without spending a penny on advertising.

    Related article: How do your dental marketing habits compare to other practices?

    We all know by now that nothing is truly free. While you don’t need to spend money on social media sites, your staff will have to put forth the effort and commitment. The key is to make social media postings part of the daily office routine so it doesn’t interfere with patient care. It’s helpful to assign the task to a staff member who is responsible for maintaining your social media.

    The internet is bursting with social media sites, and it would be a full-time job to keep up with them all. They include the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, but there are many more. Surveys of dentists show that Facebook is the biggest and that’s where you should concentrate your posts. An occasional post on Google+ may boost you higher in its search engine rankings.

    Getting started

    Facebook iconsIt’s quick and easy to set up a Facebook business page. Include a picture of yourself and your staff as your profile and cover photos. People will identify more with pictures of people versus buildings or operatories. Add as much information as possible concerning your experience and the services that you provide and, of course, your location. Treat your Facebook business page like a second website for your office. You want prospective patients to find out more about you and your practice and, hopefully, they will pick up the phone and make an appointment.

    Once you have your page set up, you need people to “Like” your page so you can keep them updated on your office and hopefully share your posts and spread the word. Place signs in your office encouraging patients to Like your page. Send letters or, better yet, emails asking people to join your many followers and be able to keep in touch with your office.

    Using your page well

    You can run contests that will encourage people to like your page. Facebook has specific rules for running contests, so check them before running one. You cannot require users to like your page to enter a contest, but you can make them like a post to enter. Wording such as “We would love for you to Like our page, however, that is not required to enter our contest” would hopefully be enough to entice someone to click the Like button.

    Related article: 5 ways to outsmart your competition online

    Special offers spike your fan base. Tell patients to Like your page so that they don’t miss out on specials that you run frequently. Specials can be a call-to-action for patients, either existing or prospective, to pick up the phone and make an appointment. Promotions such as 50 percent off bleaching or $100 off crowns can attract procrastinating patients.

    Encourage comments by asking patients what type of dental offer they would most enjoy. This will boost your interaction rate. You may get a smart aleck who suggests a free full mouth rehab, but for the most part, you will get honest, realistic proposals. It’s a great tool when deciding what type of offers to present.

    Up next: The art of posting well

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