Facebook’s Recent Algorithm Update: Don’t Panic!

Facebook recently unveiled that it was going to change its news feed, a change designed to head off criticism directed at the powerful social media platform about polarizing media and interruptive business posts. Their strategy? Prioritizing content from friends and family over posts from companies to encourage “meaningful social interactions,” according to Facebook’s CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg. Translation: more photos of friends skiing and fewer articles about congressional investigations.

We think that’s just fine. If it enhances the patient and/or parent experience, it keeps them engaged on Facebook’s platform. That’s what we want, because it’s primarily where patients and parents choose to be social online!

All of that said, some subtle shifts to accommodate the changes can ensure that practices like yours are relatively unaffected by the algorithm adjustment.

Boost more posts

Prioritize boosted posts and advertisements in a marketing plan and post fewer without ad dollars backing them (a.k.a. organic posts). Facebook is telling agencies they won’t see any major changes for paid posts, although ad rates might increase in the long run. (Digiday). People & Practice strategy for its clients already includes posts that are nominally boosted or take the form of educational or promotional advertisements. Read more about boosted Facebook posts here.

Focus on engagement

Posts from practices that don’t get any meaningful engagement won’t appear as prominently in users’ news feeds compared to posts from friends/connections. But posts that people actually comment and share could be favored more highly. (CNBC)

People & Practice crafts posts for orthodontists that are designed to encourage engagement (comments, tags, shares with friends). Our social strategy involves reaching your friends-of-patients group via social media, often by patients sharing your posts on their network. This is an approach that will be rewarded by the new algorithm adjustment. Check out our five social media ideas for orthodontists here.

Go live with video

Shoot live video instead of pre-recorded. Zuckerberg also said his team has found that users interact more with live videos as opposed to produced ones (you can like and comment in real-time when live). The interpretation is that businesses should focus more on live of content going forward. People & Practice advises practices on ways to incorporate Facebook Live into posts, particularly for contest winner announcements and at events. Read our blog post on five social media marketing predictions for 2018 where we talk about how live video is going to be hot this year.

The more things change…

Always keep in mind that technology changes. Often. That’s why we don’t throw our tried and true strategies out the window as soon as social media giants introduce a change, but rather methodically and measuredly make tweaks that will ensure your practice remains visible to the people that matter most to you: patients and prospective new patients.

Want to learn more about how your practice can not only survive but thrive on Facebook, Google and other online media? For a free marketing analysis, contact People & Practice today at 888.866.DOCS, or by email at hello@pplpractice.com.

Get Your Staff on Board With Social

We talk a lot about what makes for a successful social media marketing program in terms of patients it puts in chairs or the trust that it builds in future clients. But, behind the scenes of every great Facebook business account, is a dedicated staff who cares. The truth is that no one can do it all. To help jump start a new campaign, a social media manager must rely on co-workers to help out. It’s not as easy as it seems. Rallying the troops to post, repost, comment and like can become a daily grind so here are three tips on how to get your staff onboard with social media.

Pick a good leader

If you’re an orthodontist who has just launched a social media account or wants to ramp up the action on an existing account, the secret is to pick an enthusiastic person who can lead by example. You probably don’t have the time to do it yourself, so anointing a staff member as your social media manager is an important decision. Look for personality traits that go along with success on social. Find a staff member who is a good organizer, possibly has been bitten by the writing bug and isn’t afraid to ask others to chip in when needed. You also need to have this person be computer savvy with the ability to do some light photo editing like cropping pictures. They should have access to a computer at work and at home too (although a lot of social media can be done on a smartphone.) Once you empower the right person with the keys to your office’s social media accounts, make sure they know how important the job is. If you’ve hired a marketing company like People & Practice, that person also has to manage that relationship. Lastly, the doctor has to lead by example. Make sure you show your support so the rest of the office knows how important social media is to the success of your practice.

Offer to help

Not everyone in the office is “good” at social media so help them succeed by giving regular tips. Make it a part of the work week to explain any campaigns or big post ideas that are coming up. Then offer ways they can help promote the posts even if it’s as simple as saying, “please like this post and share it with your network.” Make social media marketing more interesting by offering facts like best times and days of the week to post. This will help boost engagement with their own accounts as well (who doesn’t like getting 50 likes on a pic they post?) While you don’t want an office full of people staring at their phones all day, it helps to give the OK for staff to post during business hours once in awhile. Making people feel like they are a part of the success goes a long way to increasing participation. Make it a point to report on the effectiveness of a campaign or post, what it means to the practice and how their involvement has helped contribute to that success.

Make it fun

There are plenty of ways to make it fun to get staff involved in social media. Encourage them to come up with ideas and then involve them with making it happen. Include staff members in posts and highlight their accomplishments on the job and outside of work. If someone in your office has an interest like fundraising for a charity or running marathons, make sure you share that too. Remember your office is about more than just braces. It’s also about the people who interact every single day with patients. Shine a spotlight on them. You can also encourage participation with regular contests to reward your most active social media stars.

Want to learn more about how you can supercharge your social media? Our work builds trust in your practice online to help you get new patients in a digital era by convincing them (before even meeting you) that you’re the practice to choose. For more information, or a free marketing analysis, you can contact People & Practice today at 888.866.DOCS, or by email at hello@pplpractice.com.

Five Predictions For Ortho Marketing in 2018

It’s that time of year when prognosticators read the tea leaves to make their predictions for 2018. Since we’ve been following the trends in dental marketing all year, we think we have a good grasp on where things will go over the next 12 months. Keep reading for our take on what you need to put into action to make your practice successful in 2018.

1) Content Marketing

Creating useful, relevant, informative content will never go out of style. The way it is delivered might change (anyone still subscribing to Poor Richard’s Almanac?) but the old adage that content is king still rules. Content is a win/win/win. It’s an SEO strategy that benefits all parties: the producer, the consumer and the search engine (primarily Google). People love searching for free stuff to read online when they should be working. If it delivers value and helps instill trust in your practice, then all the better. But there’s a new reason to double down on content in 2018: ad zappers. Ad zappers are software that seeks out and removes ads from the websites you visit so you don’t get deluged with annoying banners while you read your nifty content. It’s debatable if these ad zappers are good or bad for business but the bottom line is that in lieu of throwing money at local advertising that might never get seen, you will want to divert some marketing funds toward creating content to attract visitors organically. Read more about ad zappers and how content can help fill the void here.

2) Social Media Marketing

Again, nothing new here. We’ve been promoting social media marketing for orthodontists for years now. What we predict for 2018 is the growing importance of social media as a first stop in finding your practice online. That’s because Millennials aren’t necessarily going to your website to research your business. In a recent survey, 45% of Millennials say they begin researching a company on social media first. So if you’ve let your social media presence go stale it’s time for a refresh. Fill your page with useful info about your practice, links to your blog posts, and pictures of happy patients. You need to engage your audience in new ways to encourage sharing so when they ask, potential patients have a place to go on Facebook to do their research. Read more on this social media marketing and Millennials here.

3) Micro-moments

The future of marketing is the acceleration of what we already have in place now. That’s right things are moving even faster in 2018. Don’t worry, you won’t need to be a speed demon to keep up, you just have to be there with useful information when your next patient is looking for a dental practice in her hometown. Google defined micro-moments as the extension of an already empowered consumer now armed with the web at her fingertips on a mobile device. You get your info wherever, whenever.  “Waiting has become a thing of the past. That translates into today’s pervasive micro-moment behavior—immediately turning to a device to know, go, do, and buy… In short, marketers have had to start being a lot more assistive.” Producing good content, having a dynamic social media presence, and making sure your practice shows up in Google results with lots of positive reviews are three strategies to capturing the mico-moment. Will your practice be the one a parent picks when she Googles “orthodontists near me”? Find out more about micro-moments and how they will affect your marketing here.

4) Engagement

You can’t just sit idly by waiting for the calls to come in. In 2018 you will need to be fully engaged with your current customers so they can evangelize your practice on social media and review sites like Google Business and Yelp. Being present on social so that you can respond to questions and comments goes a long way to humanizing your practice. It also lets potential clients know there is a real doctor behind the page who is knowledgeable and friendly. Social media is a powerful tool to communicate the value of your practice if done right. We have some ideas about how to engage patients on social media on our blog here.

5) Live Video

When Facebook first unveiled its live video feature, it didn’t make much of a splash as it was limited to celebrities and people with verified accounts. Media companies and marketers tried to figure out how to use it. Fast forward to today and live video streaming is available to everyone on the platform and it’s become a hot way to communicate on social. And it’s only going to get hotter in 2018.

It’s not just Facebook that has realized live video’s potential on social media. Now, SnapChat, Marco Polo and other many apps have come to develop their own versions of shared video on social networks. (For those keeping score, even before Facebook Live there was a live video service called Periscope that integrated with Twitter.) Videos on Facebook don’t have to be watched live either. When you’re done filming they’re archived on your page for later viewing just like any other post.

Live video is easy and fun thanks to integration right in the Facebook mobile app. Just go to your page and start filming your patients with their new smiles, having fun in your office around the holidays, or finding out they just won a prize in one of your contests. Click here for a simple and easy intro on how to jump into the live video frenzy from Facebook.

Are you ready to take your marketing into the future? Contact People & Practice today!

Read: Journal of Clinical Orthodontics Article Written by People & Practice

The Journal of Clinical Orthodontics invited our founders, Leon Klempner, DDS and Amy Epstein, MBA, to write an article about marketing a practice to the Millennial generation. In his preface to the article, Contributing Editor Robert S. Haeger, DDS, MS, praised the piece. He said that “after reading (and re-reading) this article, you will have a much better understanding of the space Millennials operate in, which platforms to target, and what information is important to them, as well as the relevance of staying current with technology to market your office.”

Millennials are not only sharing on the web, but they are making purchase decisions based on recommendations from friends on social media and reviews posted on sites like Google and Yelp. If you are not managing your practice’s social presence and online reputation, you will be invisible to the Millennial consumer. This generation’s consumers are spread thin in terms of time commitment: they depend on virtual interactions such as depositing checks through a mobile app, ordering groceries through Amazon’s Alexa, or resolving billing issues on a virtual chat bot. To connect with them, you need to be technology-enabled and interactive in the way you run your practice and in your marketing.

Head over to the JCO website to read “The Future Is Now: How Millennials, Tech, and a Chess-Playing Computer Are Changing Orthodontics.”

 

Digital Ad Zappers Make Content Marketing Even MORE Important

In the online battle for clients’ attention, fight ad blocking with content!

Ethan Zuckerman has said that he’s sorry. Ever heard of him? Probably not, but he has apologized to you anyway – actually he apologized to the whole world of which we assume you are a part. What egregious sin made him proclaim his mea culpa so publicly? Mr. Zuckerman invented the internet pop-up ad.

Yep. Now you get it.

In a lengthy essay Mr. Zuckerman explains how and why he invented arguably the most despised form of advertising ever created. It’s a good read if you’re into that sort of thing. So what does this have to do with marketing for the dental industry? We’ll get to that.

Ad zappers

If enough people hate something, other people will try to stop it. Online ads are no exception. Many people know about the pop-up ad blocking feature on their favorite web browser. They stop websites from opening those annoying windows that propagate across your screen like little roaches. Well, ad blocking didn’t stop with pop-ups. Programmers invented new ways to monetize the internet and they created all kinds of other advertising techniques. And other people have found a way to block those too.

According to Pagefair.com, a service that says it is an ad blocking authority, 615 million devices now have some sort of ad blocking on them. In 2016, ad block usage grew 30% globally, as reported by the New York Times. On mobile devices, usage grew by 108 million to 380 million individual devices. Pagefair.com says that usage of ad blocking is now mainstream across all ages. In short, everyone is ad blocking and it’s a pretty big deal to people who want to advertise online. Psst… that’s you!

Did you pay for some banner ads on a local site to promote your practice recently? Have you considered it? You might want to rethink your strategy. Digital advertising isn’t dead yet. (And we’re not talking about promoted social media posts here just banner ads.) There is still a place for it, including Google Adwords and Facebook advertising, all very popular and effective marketing tools. But, if you’re spending all of your precious marketing dollars buying banners and other digital ads, you need to expand your horizons and get a bit more sophisticated.

Content marketing to the rescue!

Good content marketing attracts users to your site through organic search, link sharing, and, yes, targeted ads on social media websites. We’re guessing one of those three methods got you to find this very blog post.

Content marketing is the technique of generating relevant, informative and interesting material that people want to read and share, whether it’s a blog post, bylined article, infographic, or other type of communication. If you regularly serve up good content, people will continue to come back to your website, social media page and open your emails. With your content, you can educate prospective new patients about your expertise before they need your services, so that when it’s time to make a choice, you’re the one they already know and trust.

An active and engaging social media presence supports a good content plan and communicates the value of your practice to friends of current patients, potentially reaching new ones. Marry this with a program to curate positive online reviews on sites like Google Business and Yelp, and you have a powerful combination that is ten-times stronger than running banner ads by themselves.

With the rise in ad blocking software, good content is a more important part of your marketing than ever before. People actually seek out good content instead of trying to zap it away. Good content builds trust in a way that banners and pop-up ads never could. Don’t get us wrong. Your marketing mix should still include online advertising, but you also need to develop a good content plan if you want to really connect with future patients.

Are your ready to fight the ad blockers with good content? Our work builds trust in your practice online to help you get new patients in a digital era by convincing them (before even meeting you) that you’re the practice to choose. For more information, or a free marketing analysis, you can contact People & Practice today at 888.866.DOCS, or by email at hello@pplpractice.com.

Snapchat logo

We’ve Taking Over Snapchat!

Well, not really.

We’ve only taken over the Rocky Mountain Orthodontics (RMO) Snapchat account for the week. People & Practice was invited  to take over their account to promote our upcoming talk at the RMO/Dental Monitoring Symposium being held Oct. 6-7, 2017 in Las Vegas where our CEO, Dr. Leon Klempner, will speak about how Artificial Intelligence software is being used to assist orthodontists in their practices, including the Dental Monitoring imaging system. He will also review advanced marketing techniques that will help independent orthodontists attract and retain Millennials as patients. Snapchat is an example of one of the new tools available to connect with potential patients in a genuine way and tell your practice’s story.

Snapchat is a multimedia messaging application for your smartphone. It allows you to share pictures and short videos that you dress up with filters and other fun add-ons. Users chat with each other through these mini messages and once you view them they disappear in a snap-after about 10 seconds or so-hence their ghost logo and their name. Get it? Snap. Chat.

Download the Snapchat app onto your smartphone and head to the RMO account at rmosnaps. Then check out our Snaps and find out what all the buzz is about with this hot social media channel.

The McGill Advisory Invites People & Practice to Pen Article on Differentiating Your Practice With Social Marketing

People & Practice was invited to write an article for The McGill Advisory–the monthly newsletter of The McGill & Hill Group, a dental practice advisory group–about the importance of social marketing. In this article, titled “Increase Your New Patients By Differentiating Your Practice Online,” co-authored by our founders Leon Klempner, DDS and Amy Epstein, MBA, they wrote about the mix of strategies used to gain the right new patients when competing against corporate dental practices.

The full text of the article that appeared in the April issue of The McGill Advisory is posted below with permission from the publishers. You can also read this article on The McGill Advisory website (subscription required) by clicking here.

Increase Your New Patients By Differentiating Your Practice Online
By: Leon Klempner, DDS and Amy Epstein, MBA

In today’s world, traditional practices are not only competing against each other, but also against corporate dental practices, also called Dental Service Organizations (DSOs). DSOs typically have the advantage of a much larger advertising budget and generally charge lower fees. How can you succeed in gaining new patients when competing against these Goliaths?

Delivering Superior Quality of Care

If you plan to differentiate and grow your practice, the delivery of high quality care is non-negotiable. Any marketing strategy will be short circuited without good clinical and nonclinical care.

While doctors base their perception of a high-quality practice on the level of clinical care provided, patients use a totally different yardstick. Since most patients are not able to evaluate clinical care, their evaluation is largely based on several nonclinical factors.

One critically important factor is your staff. Patients want staff members that are well-trained, friendly, courteous, compassionate and offer the highest level of customer service. Do your staff members make scheduling an appointment quick and easy? Does your practice respect the time of your patients and run on time, or with only minimal wait times?

Another factor influencing patients’ evaluation of your practice is how trustworthy they feel the doctor is. It is very important for doctors to build trust by establishing a strong personal relationship with the patient. It only takes a minute to look the patient directly in the eyes, address him/her by name and show your interest in them as a person. That could be as simple as asking about family members, job and other personal matters, all of which can demonstrate that you care about them and their well-being. The doctor should take time to thoroughly explain to the patient their dental symptoms, recommended treatment options, and communicate the negative impact of not accepting treatment.

Your competitive edge over low fee competition is your ability to build strong long-term relationships, and those relationships are built on trust. Now, let’s talk about how to leverage that trust, which translates into a competitive edge, using social marketing.

Power to the Practice

In today’s competitive dental marketplace, it’s essential to have a carefully crafted digital marketing plan to effectively communicate your superior quality of care, and differentiate your practice from your lower fee/lower quality corporate competitors. Below are three strategies to harness the power of patient referrals, tell the story of your practice, and capture the attention of potential new patients cost-effectively.

Reputation Management: In Reviews We Trust

Potential patients trust online reviews and often base their decision on what others say about your practice. A recent survey by BrightLocal.com found that 84% of those asked said they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That’s the same as a friend telling them that they should call your office. The same survey showed that 74% of consumers reported that a positive review will make them trust a local business more.

Your future patients are researching practices online and will make a decision based on what they find, particularly on review sites such as Google and Yelp. Just going from 0 to 1 favorable review increases the rate that online practice shoppers will contact your practice by 65%. And to be truly effective, you need to generate at least 20 favorable Google reviews. This creates a cycle – the more reviews, the more new patients joining your practice, leading to even more reviews, and higher search engine rankings.

The survey also revealed that a majority of patients will leave a review for your practice, if asked. This highlights how important it is to have a system in place to amplify positive comments you hear in your office and help “catch” potentially negative experiences before they go public.

It’s not as hard as you may think to convert an offhand comment into an authentic, five-star public review so that potential new patients can read it. At the same time, it’s important to offer a sounding board to patients in case their experience wasn’t perfect, giving them a chance to vent before they take to the Internet to air their grievances.

Social Engagement Done Right

There’s no better way to add value to your practice than having current patients share your content with their social media friends. Actively engaging with your patients through social media will reap benefits exponentially if done right. A Facebook page must not only have a regular stream of updates, but also must be interactive, encouraging current fans to like and share your post on the pages. This helps reach their network of friends, increasing the number of potential new patients aware of your practice.

The content needs to be personalized, informative, or entertaining to be good enough to share. A contest that incentivizes patients to like and repost to their own page in order to have a chance to win is just one of many great examples of interactive, shareable content.

Facebook Advertising: Choose Your Audience and Get Clicks With Educational Content

Facebook’s dynamic ad platform allows doctors to target a specific audience and potential new patients who are in need of your services, and live within a short distance of your practice’s physical address. These ads can be directed back to educational content on your website, with forms that are specifically designed to capture new patient data delivered right to your inbox.

Stronger Together

While these strategies can operate independently to boost your practice’s referral rates, they work best together. In conjunction, reputational management, social engagement, and Facebook advertising form a digital marketing plan that’s unmatched in communicating your competitive advantages in expertise and experience to deliver personalized customer service that’s superior. This will help you compete and win against DSOs in converting more new patients.

Download a PDF of the full article.

McGill & Hill Webinar featuring Leon Klempner, DDS