Do Dentists Need It? Facebook, Live Chat, Yelp…

In the information age, dentists are pummeled with new ways to advertise. Recently, I posted my professional dental marketing advice regarding dentists advertising in the yellow pages, and if you follow this blog, you know that I have seen solid websites, microsites, and blogs produce amazing results for our client dentists. However, I am often asked whether social networking sites, online review sites, and special website features, like live chat and telephone number tracking, are important to a dental marketing strategy.

Here’s the 411 on what dentists need to succeed.*

Do dentists need Facebook?

I believe that, since Facebook is a free service right now, dentists should have a personal/professional and a business page. These are two separate pages. However, if a dentist does not implement a plan to post on the pages regularly, I do not recommend Facebook.

In order of importance to dental marketing, and based on the assumption that a social networking plan is going to be executed and maintained, I recommend profiles on the following social sites:

Only progress down the list if you can maintain a minimum of weekly posts – even if those posts are a feed from your blog. Also, do NOT expect to acquire new patients from your efforts. While there are some measurable aspects of traffic on social sites, I’ve yet to hear of a dentist getting a new patient directly from Facebook.

Do dentists need live chat?

No. It’s that simple. If a potential patient wants to call you, it’s just as easy to dial a phone number as it is to engage in a written conversation with an online chat. Also, who answers chats? Not dental professionals. So what, exactly, is the point? Live chat sounds helpful, but it’s really a waste of marketing dollars, as is telephone number tracking on your website.

If you like the idea of a chat on your website, implement the technology, but assign someone in your front office to answer the chats. Also, don’t rely on a telephone answering service for after-hours calls. You can read more about my advice on answering the phone in a dentist’s office in this blog.

Do dentists need Yelp!?

Did you know, Yelp! has had multiple lawsuits from dentists who cannot get untrue, bad reviews removed from their Yelp! profile? My advice is, don’t get mixed up in that mess. Instead, ask patients to review you on Google+ Local, where you can respond to reviews quickly and effectively. You can also work with Rate a Dentist, Demandforce, or another private review service that has your best interests at heart. Even better, put your positive patient reviews on your own website and blog!

Studies show, about 70% of folks believe what they read online, so reviews have power. Whether that power is for good or evil depends upon whether the review is good or bad. In public relations, you need to guard yourself. Reputation management, the term coined to describe overall management on online reviews, is PR, and you need to approach it as such. Respond to negative reviews promptly and with a smile.

How to Navigate Online Dental Marketing

Modern Dental Practice Marketing serves hundreds of dental practices across the United States and Canada. Our team of dental marketing experts includes professional writers, marketers, graphic designers, programmers, and social networking gurus. While our services include creating, optimizing, and managing websites, microsites, blogs, content, and SEO, we also provide one-on-one marketing consulting for dentists and their dental consultants.

Call 972-781-8861 today to learn how MDPM can help your dental practice succeed.*

*My definition of success is growing a practice’s patient base and profits.