Yesterday, during the afternoon, a young adult patient attended for an appointment to have her braces fitted. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say, adults start orthodontic treatment every day so what makes this one so relevant?
This particular patient is a blogger and in the last day or so has generated a lot of comment and engagement on social media with her posts about getting braces as an adult. She has written about her dental anxiety and being self-conscious about her teeth, her experiences when she was younger and her desire to get braces to straighten her teeth and improve her smile. She has written about her search for an orthodontist in the city she lives in, the concerns she had about getting treatment and how the orthodontic practice she decided to go with helped her.
Her posts on social media have generated a lot of comment and engagement with past patients offering well-meaning advice and those wanting to start treatment keen to learn more about her experiences. In one day, she has probably generated more social media engagement than some practices have been able to do so in a year. And she is just a blogger. She isn’t a dental blogger, she doesn’t have a long-standing blog with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and has only been blogging for a few months. What she does have is a good following on social media and a high level of engagement. She writes about topics which are relevant to her readers and in a way they can relate to. And this, from a marketing perspective, is something that should interest orthodontic practices and in particular, the one where she is their patient.
I sincerely hope her orthodontist takes note of the interest and engagement she has received and uses the opportunity to both benefit the marketing efforts of the practice and future opportunities for the blogger but suspect this might not happen. In our experience, orthodontic practices are not great at capitalising on the opportunities social media and bloggers (or to give them their correct term in this context, micro-influencers) provide to the profession. In fact, in many cases, I’m sure practices keep bloggers at arms length for fear that they might write or record something that proves to be detrimental to the practice. Team members are generally not encouraged to engage with people on social media and please don’t even think about bringing a video camera into the practice to record your big day.
Does this sound familiar to you? Working with practices we do understand the concerns you may have. Social media is difficult to navigate at the best of times and when trying to run a busy practice, social media becomes another task that needs regular attention. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Why not let your motivated, happy and engaged patients undertake the lions share of the work for you?
Let’s return to this particular blogger. As far as we can see, there has been no engagement from the practice yet. No likes on her social media accounts, no ‘good luck, you’re a great patient’ comments, no retweets or shares. Just doing any one of these will likely direct potential patients thinking about getting their teeth straightened back to the practice. And maybe just a small handful of these will take the time to look around the website and maybe one will take their enquiry to the next stage. And what has this cost the practice? Nothing, just a few seconds on social media during the commute home.
But there is so much more potential in this opportunity. Did the practice know their patient was a blogger with a story to tell? Can they provide an environment rich with opportunity fuelling further posts all of which have the potential to attract new patients? Can they facilitate further posts and provide information and advice to make this micro-influencers job easier and supplement their own advertising and marketing efforts?
If you have not yet given some thought to your own social media activities and working more closely with patients who have the potential to help you attract more enquiries then this is something you may wish to think about going forward. The digital agenda in dentistry is gaining momentum and the buying habits of consumers are changing. Patients are using social media to research their options, to learn about a practice, it’s culture and services and to network with other patients who can provide the best form of advertising possible, a personal recommendation.
If you are not sure how to effectively use social media or would like to explore the opportunities bloggers and micro-influencers can bring to your practice, please do get in touch. You may very well have a patient, whose braces you fitted just yesterday, ready to help you raise your profile and to take this first step into influencer marketing.