Dentist Online Social Media: The New Dental Marketing?

Dentists and online social mediaDentists are embracing social media websites for business networking and internet dental marketing. Over half of dentists (57%) report using Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn for professional purposes.

Facebook is the clear leader; half of dentists use it professionally, and 4 out of 5 are on Facebook for personal purposes. One in three dentists uses Twitter professionally, and one in three is on Linked In.

“I believe they will and have had a great impact on dental marketing,” predicted one dentist. “It remains to be seen exactly how this will impact patients actually using these sites to select their dentists.”

“Social Networking is FREE,” raved a website designer. “It gives your dental websites visibility that they would not otherwise have. Most everyone under 50 use the internet for everything. Print is gone, and the internet social media is free right now, so why not take advantage of this?”

Here are some more comments from dentists:

  • “It seems a little non-professional, but I don’t knock those who do. I’m personally annoyed with my chiropractor’s posts, so skip over them. I imagine my patients would do the same.” (Texas dentist)
  • “Too new…not sure of impact.” (Pennsylvania orthodontist)
  • “I think all of these sites are a huge time killer!” (Alabama dentist)
  • “No online social networking personally or professionally anymore. Most of it is a waste of time. I’d rather spend the valuable time with my wife and kids.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “I have begun to use LinkedIn for contacts across the nation for my orofacial myology business.” (Nebraska dental hygienist)

Read more: Dentists & Social Media for Online Dental Marketing

About Julie Frey

+Julie Frey is the Editor of TheWealthyDentist.com blog. She has dedicated her career to Internet marketing and communications, working side-by-side with dental marketing guru Jim Du Molin since 2006. She has a degree in Linguistics from Stanford University, has a passion for language and writing, and lives in San Francisco.

  • http://Socialmediabirmingham.com Daniel Walters

    While at first glance, Social Media appears to be free, it’s really not. It takes a certain time and people investment. It also holds you accountable to your customers (in this case, patients) and their experiences.

    Social Media, like any piece of a good marketing/public relations plan, takes a certain amount of commitment and resources. Being genuine and personable helps in Social Media mediums to make you feel more like a person than the guy with the drill.

  • http://www.jerryjonesdirect.com Jerry Jones

    [WARNING: What ensues is more time devoted to social media than it deserves. It’s a rant, a warning to those “drinkin’ the cool-aid,” and please, if you CAN show me the money, DO IT. I’m begging to see real, irrefutable proof all this social media crap has some legs to it!]

    Books have been written about it (even dentist, Dr. Jason Lipsomb, has penned one), there are websites that are nothing but ‘it,’ professional social media “experts” crawling out of the woodwork, and I gotta wonder: Is there an end in sight to it all?

    I’m betting…YES. MySpace is gone. Facebook’s next. Twitter – Honestly, do you really, REALLY care what the heck I’m doing on a Saturday with my kids? I’m bettin’ not, especially if you’re a potential customer considering giving me money in exchange for Butts In Your Ops.

    I will say Gary Vaynerchuck’s book is good (Crush It) on business sans the social media part.

    Dentists are now even reading and writing about it in their trade magazines. 2 whole pages were dedicated to it in the February 2010 issue of Dental Economics. Worse still, the author heavily mis-quoted information from a source cited in his article. Those mistakes can happen, but I’m willing to bet no one will “notice” and no retraction/correction reported. Lesson: BE CAREFUL what you believe and VERIFY.

    Look, I LOVE advertising, I LOVE marketing. But, my love falls short if there’s not anyone able to step forward and say, “Hey, here’s what’s happened to my business and these are the short-term/long-term benefits of relying on social media as a plausible, long-term strategy, and, THIS IS THE MONEY IT’S BROUGHT IN.” Full-on, detailed stats.

    I want proof it all works. ANY of it. I want someone tracking the TIME invested into all this “free” social media so we can get a true reading on the cost of it all. (No one seems to believe sitting down and writing fifty, 140 character posts “hey, I’m changing a diaper on the kid right now. phew, it’s stinky,” has a cost to it.)

    Vaynerchuck, in his book, “Crush It,” outlines one campaign where Twitter, at a cost of “zero,” brought in 1700 customers. Other “media” brought in less. He argues, “no cost” to Twitter, so a better deal, right?

    Sounds great. But, until I know the economics of repeat-ability of that campaign (how likely he could do it all again and generate another 1700 customers), & how long they stayed as a customer (vs. customers acquired via other means).

    In business, there are certain customers that arrive to your door from certain media that last longer, spend more, spend more often than others and my entire career, I’ve noted those referred to me by a human (not a 140 character Tweet yet, or a Facebook posting yet) and those that come to me from books I’ve written or events I’ve created and they’ve attended, are the far most valuable customers I can get.

    Of those 1700 customers, there may be no depth to them at all…all one-shot wonders. Or, perhaps you’ll get a hundred or 200 out of 1700 that might stick. When compared with the other media, how does that factor stack up? I’m willing to bet, not nearly as good.

    What about ROI – nothing in his book mentions ROI?! What was the total order volume for each media used – billboard, twitter and direct mail?

    How many of each media are now repeat customers, 14 months later (he did this in December 2008)?

    All that matters in business. Long-term customer value far more important than initial. Equity vs. income. More often than not, when my immediate needs are met, I’m chasing and storing equity with my clients to use later. YOU should be too, and I question whether social media will allow you that ability?!

    People talk about building “relationships” and customer loyalty when you engage in social media.

    If you could build a relationship posting pictures and living via electronical tweets and posts with customers, then you oughta be able to pull it off with your wife and kids, eh?

    Then, there’s education – you can “educate” your customers or prospects via social media. How do you do that in 140 characters without directing them offsite to another website? That’s the same damn thing as a banner ad, a google ad, a postcard, etc. SOMEONE is paying for Twitter, somehow. SOMEONE is for Facebook, too. It’s called a TIME investment.

    Do the patients you need to drop big duckets in your practice hang around reading “tweets” and posts on Facebook all day long? Doubtful. Really, really, doubtful. The last person I want as a client is someone so grossly engaged in virtual reality (Internet socializing, not real, noes-to-noes, sweaty-palms stuff) that when they DO get results from what I do (putting Butts In Ops), they’re so weird and fragmented no one will do business with them because they are not digitally enhanced.

    Successful people, people with drive, determination, something going on in their lives, are not living on or in “social media.” I don’t care what the stats say. I spent a few months engaged in it all, but really, I had enough of high school in high school and to me, that’s all Facebook was and remains to be…that and goofy people trying to direct me to their videos and join their groups and tell me how high of a score they got on some game. It was like “greeters” day at the local Chamber of Commerce. Not my cup of tea. But I’m sure it’s gotta be good for someone?

    [See my previous post on my blog about Brian Tracy’s thoughts on all this…He said, “There’s not a penny in it to be had.”]

    What’s the missing link and why WON’T social media ever really work?

    I’ll tell you: Social Media is wholly inadequate for building a meaningful relationship with a real client or prospective client. It’s attention-deficit to the extreme.

    But, right now, it’s hot, it’s selling and everyone wants this “FREE” media to work. News for ya bub, it’s light years away, I think, if ever.

  • http://www.thevisibledentist.com The Visible Dentist

    I have yet to see any benefit from Twitter, other than another notch in the search engines. Big deal.

    All the dentists I know haven’t seen hardly any new patients to speak of after using Twitter either.

    Those persons pushing Twiiter as a viable marketing strategy for dentists often only have an agenda of selling something, to the dentist.

    I agree with Jerry Jones above: there is mostly just hype behind the glittering promise of Twitter, not to mention an unsubstantiated ROI.

    See my blog post on the issue for more details:

    Can Twitter Help Dentists Get Patients?

    John Barremore, SEO
    Houston, TX

  • http://drdassenko.com San Luis Obispo Dental Office

    Thanks for the review on social networking. Social networking is a great way access and discuss current dental news. In addition to these benefits social networking is also an essential element of building a highly visible web presence for one’s own practice.

  • zeus

    Whether we like it or not, Social Media is one great tool. And it is here to stay. Yes, it can be hard to become familiarized in at first, and you would need to invest time, effort, and even some money to make sure that Social Media works to your advantage. There is really nothing wrong with this. If dentists want to get more patients, nothing should keep them from enjoying the immense benefits provided by social media.

  • http://www.robertfieldsdds.com karen McNulty

    Social Media Marketing ,along with setting up a google profile, a google knol, where you may write articles, a google local business, Yelp, Zoomin, yellow pages.com etc,
    all put your name and your business’s name in front of tons of people who use the internet to find good doctors, dentists, and lawyers. You also link these sites to your website which, as a dentist, you all should have by now. Print marketing, I am sorry, will be a thing of the past as we approach a much more savy digital age. The truth is, change is difficult, and it is hard to believe that this is free. You could pay for ads in your local newspapers or new mover newsletters,little postcards with offers on them. If you would rather use print only that is great. But internet marketing requires you to paya savy person to keep your name out there when someone types in “dentist and a geographical location. It takes a while to get it up and running with Google and get enough referring sites, but it does work to bring in patients and in the last two months, we have appointed 40 new patients that are currently accepting treatment with our general dentist and our endodontist and our periodontist. On twitter, I run a dental blog where the doctor answers questions regarding different dental procedures. You are not trying to GARNER patients, you are getting your name spread across the web…and Mr. Jones..tons of people in many professions spend time marketing on the internet. I attneded the Madow Seminar in Vegas last November. At lunch i was seated with 5 dentists from around the country. Three had no website, one was doing some social media marketing himself, but his wife saw no ROI right away and disliked it. The dentist next to me had jet lag and said to me that social media and the internet was hear to stay and the rest better get on board He mentioned that he saved $40,000 on the printed yellow pages alone by listing on the internet. I had no idea who he was until he took the stage the following day in front of a few thousand people and spoke for an hour on lasers and dentistry….maybe some of you know who Dr. Stewart Rosenberg is! So maybe i am onto something when i see very big names in the field of dentistry are on board!

  • http://www.thevisibledentist.com/ The Visible Dentist

    A quick install of Akismet on your blog will eliminate 99% of spam posts.

    I use it on mine with great success.

    John Barremore, SEO
    Houston, TX

  • http://dentalmarketingsucks.com James Erickson

    I guess I’m a nobody in dental marketing if I don’t post a comment here.

    I agree with John (I don’t say that often), Jim, you should really look into Akismet. Great for blocking those spam comments.

    Finally my two cents on Social Media. You can’t sit there and say Social Media is free right after you attended the latest $4000 per seat seminar on “How To Use Social Media.”

    Plus, the average Facebook user spends 90 hours per year on Facebook. If I can produce $250 chairside doing Bread and butter dentistry, that’s over $22,000 I am “paying” to be on Facebook. Heck, even if I’m paying a person $35 to handle it for me, that’s still $3150. And that is just Facebook.

    I’m sure Social Media has it’s place in dentistry, but if dentists keep putting out the same lame generic “We love our patients and provide quality care” message, it doesn’t matter where you post it, it still wont work.

    Oh, and “here to stay” was a term I heard a lot about MySpace.

    I’ll leave you with a quote from a recent article I had published:

    “Social media was created not out of necessity, but out of fun and sexual drive. Facebook itself was not created by by a marketer in his office looking for an advertising medium, it was created by a college sophomore in his dorm room trying to get laid.”

    I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but it surely isn’t free, and like any marketing should be carefully measured and tracked.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/bestdentist Rebekah Hillesland

    Nice writing! I am editing an article on pediatric dentrists and I will include some of your info.

  • http://www.hummingbirdsoftwarereview.com/ hummingbird review

    Twitter does not provide backlinks juice. Just because of their insanely high pagerank, your tweets and also your Twitter profile page can get on the first page of Google just with a good linking strategy

  • http://www.curvedental.com Gwenn

    I think this is a great move for dentists to be making; it’s important that we keep up with the technology of the times. My office switched to a new kind of dental software that is totally web-based a while ago and it is fabulous. We should definitely be looking for these types of new innovations.

  • http://www.e-dds.com/form.asp Mark

    Very informative blog!

    Thanks for maintaining such a nice blog and giving valuable tips to our dental community. I came across this free dental webinar that I wanna bring to your attention. I am gonna attend it, cause one of my friends did it last time and found it quite good. This time around, it’s on “Designing the Front Office as a Marketing Tool” and is gonna take place on July 15, 2010 from 7-8pm EST. An interior designing expert, Lidia Scher, is gonna present it. You can register on: http://www.e-dds.com/form.asp

    Mark

  • http://www.losangelesdentalclinics.com Beth

    Social networking definitely has it’s place in today’s marketing strategy, however I think it is just a very small element for promoting a website relating to an offline business or service. Personally I prefer Facebook to Twitter!

  • http://www.insightsfordentists.com Dentist Marketing Solutions

    It’s true that social media is a new avenue, but we’re heading into that electronic era where yellow pages aren’t being delivered anymore unless you’re over 60 and email has overtaken snail mail. True, it may not be free if you learn to use it correctly and efficiently, but it’s where the consumers are, and will be the new face of dental marketing.

  • http://www.torontodentist-smileblog.com Toronto Dentist in Etobicoke

    Excellent post topic. I think blogs will grow and endure. Other forms may fade away. Facebook still has plenty of legs.

    Joe :D

  • Pingback: Adding Twitter to Your Dental Marketing Plan | Conscious Dentist

  • Deb Hewitt

    Most of my doctors are not embracing Facebook. Mistake? Yes huge one. They need to start thinking of how their patients spend their days. They are not in an operatory all day they are in front of the computer. I stepped into a mall 1 x in 2010. 90% of my purchases are done on line and I find 90% of my professionals via the web. And I use Facebook several times a day. Just ask your patients about how often they use the social media and I bet they will confirm that you might be the one behind the learning curve not them.

  • http://www.defend.com/ Mydent International

    Very informative post! We’ve been using facebook and twitter and find them to be very helpful. We’re also focusing on adding to our youtube channel.

  • http://bestsandiegodentists.org/ Best San Diego Dentist

    I think this is also a great way to keep in contact with your customers whether it be with specials or news.

  • Seth Helgeson

    Social media is an extremely important part of online marketing along with search engine optimization. The more visibility your company has, the better chance you have at getting new patients and new revenue streams.

    For more information on how I use social media in my practice visit Local Dentist Shalimar Dental Health.

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