You know that your business should be present and engaged on social media, but how do you know what to post? More importantly, how do you know if what you are posting is worth your time and effort? We’ve done our research and have determined that there are 6 key steps to follow when creating a social media strategy. While the initial setup might seem a little daunting, it will be worth it in the long run!

Step 1: Set Your Social Media Marketing Goals

There is nothing worse than not knowing if your time and effort is paying off. If you start posting on an inconsistent basis, with no way to measure progress and with deadlines to achieve goals, you will only succeed in spinning your wheels. Start off by determining what goal you want to achieve (i.e., growing your brand awareness by increasing followers or likes). Then layout S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve this.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Some examples of goals specific to dental offices would be; acquiring new patients, building your community or turning patients into advocates for your dental practice. You can measure your new patient growth tracking phone calls or online bookings from social media platforms. By monitoring your growth (i.e., likes, followers, mentions, etc.) you can see if you are growing your online community and therefore increasing brand awareness. Meanwhile, patient testimonials and reviews turn patients into advocates for your dental practice. When it comes to finding new services, social proof is one of the key influences that help someone determine where to go.

Step 2: Learn About Your Audience and the Best Platform to Reach Them

As the owner of a dental practice, your patient list gives you a starting point to determine your demographic. However, do you know which portion of your patient list to focus on? For example, if you want to increase the number of implant patients you would not target the 18-30-year-old demographic. Rather you would focus on the 40-65-year-old demographic. We realize most people in their 40s do not require implants, however, many of them have parents who are entering the phase in their life where tooth loss is occurring more often.

Our Dental Consumer Research Guide provides a detailed explanation of what patients focus on when choosing a dental office. This guide is filled with tips on the different types of content to place in your messages to attract new patients. Check out our guide here.

Once you have determined which demographic you want to reach, you will need to choose which social media platform that will best reach your target audience. According to 2018 PEW Research Article, here is a demographic breakdown on the different platforms used by different groups:

Step 3: Research Your Competition and Learn From Their Mistakes (or Successes)

You can run your own testing to see which content will generate more engagement or you can start by checking out your competitors. There are several different social media marketing tools available that allow you to monitor your competitors. These tools can track the number of posts, level of engagment and activity that each of your competitors generate on the various social media platforms. A few different options to look at would be Hootsuite, Hubspot and SEM Rush.

By watching what your competitors post and the level of engagement that ensues, you will be able to see what information, posts or topics are generating interest online. Once you have an idea of what your future patients want to hear, you can create your own content on a similar topic. For example, if a competitor has shared a how-to info graphics that talks about helping a child brush their teeth, you could create a video of you (or another team member) demonstrating the best way to brush a child’s teeth.

Step 4: Create a Content Calendar

Creating a content calendar may feel like a daunting task to begin with, but once you start entering in the content topics you will quickly begin to develop a pattern. When creating your content topics, it is important to remember the following: only post on each platform 4-6 times per week and follow the 80/20 rule. You only want to post 4-6 times per week, so that you do not overwhelm your followers with content. This is one case where the saying ‘less equals more’ rings true.

As for the 80/20 rule, 80% of your posts should contain content that is fun, educational and personable (i.e., sending holiday greetings, sharing pictures of office events or informative pieces on dental health). The other 20% of your posts can be geared towards promoting the services and products available at your practice. In today’s digital world, where consumers are bombarded with ads at every click of the mouse you want to avoid being tuned out if you are only trying to sell them something.

If you are still stuck on where to start with your calendar, start by filling in all the holidays and important days. For example, New Years Day, Valentines Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc. A simple post that contains an appropriate image and saying is enough. If you are looking for ideas, we share postings in our Dental Marketing Mastery group on Facebook. You can join here.

The next step is to start entering information around important times of the year. For example, in early summer you can send out a post reminding parents to book their child’s back-to-school checkup. Or in October, you can send out a post to remind patients that their benefits will soon run out and they should use them up before the end of the year.

Step 5: Schedule Your Posts When Engagement is Highest

The easiest way to schedule all your posts is to use a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, Hubspot or Sprout Social. Each platform offers different levels of service at varying prices. By utilizing one of these tools, you can conveniently see all your posts for on each social media platform in one location. This can be a huge time saver.

Sprout Social has thoroughly investigated when are the best times to post on the various social media platforms. Here is a summary of what they found:

PlatformSpecifics
FacebookBest time to post: Wednesday at 9am – 10am
Most Consistent Engagement: Monday through Friday 9am – 3 or 4pm
Lowest Engagement: avoid Saturday and Sunday; everyday from 9pm-4am
InstagramBest time to post: Tuesday at 8am
Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday 7am – 4pm
Lowest Engagement: evening and overnight everyday from 6pm – 6am
TwitterBest time to post: Wednesday at 9am and 11am
High Engagement Times: Monday at 2pm; Wednesday from 10am – 2pm and Friday at 8am
Most Consistent Engagement: Monday through Friday 8am – 3pm
Lowest Engagement: Sunday

Step 6: Engage with Your Online Community

This is potentially the most important step of your social media marketing strategy. If you or a staff member take the time to lay out a content calendar, create engaging content and schedule your postings at the best times – your work will be wasted if you do not join in the conversation.

Engaging with your followers, patients and online community is key to increasing your marketing potential, boosting brand awareness and increasing customer satisfaction. Set aside 15-20 minutes a day to access your social media platforms and review any notifications that may have come in.