A quick look at the social media channels from a number of different orthodontic practices will reveal that everyone has a slightly different approach to how they engage with patients. Some reach out on a regular basis with the same message, duplicating content in the hope it reaches its target audience. Others carefully craft posts linked to campaigns and take a more targeted approach to engaging with specific patient groups. Some practices do not have social media channels or worse still, have inactive channels with out of date content giving the impression that patient engagement is not something they consider at all important (the reality being that the member of staff who set up the channel probably left and there was no one else to pick up the responsibility).
So what should you do if you do not currently use social media or want to re-launch your channels? The first thing to do, before making any start on setting up accounts or creating content is to think about writing a social media strategy. Don’t worry, this is not a complex document (it can be if you want to really drill down to the detail) but should contain some key elements that help you to produce a consistent message that engages with your patients.
The first question to ask your self is ‘what do you want to achieve from using social media?’ Are you looking to attract new patients, better engage with existing ones or position yourself differently to differentiate your offer from other competitors? The second question is ‘who do you want to reach?’. It’s unlikely that one message will effectively engage with all audiences all of the time so you will need to think about running several campaigns simultaneously or targeting your efforts to a smaller group. The third question is ‘what content do you want to provide and how will this be styled?’ Content can be provided in many different forms and the answers to the first two questions will help you to determine this. Content can be informatively aimed at educating patients, promotional to attract new patients or centred around specific campaigns aimed at achieving practice objectives such as reducing the number of missed appointments.