Patients want to know, like, and trust you even before the new patient exam. Your practice’s social media campaign can help lay the groundwork.   

By Andrea Smith

Is it possible for an orthodontic practice to create a profitable social media campaign on its own? In a word, YES! And doing this is more important than ever. Today’s patients want to know, like, and trust their orthodontist even before the new patient exam. And what better way to let a potential patient get to know their orthodontist than through video that reaches them on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where they spend a good deal of their time engaging with content.

Designate a part-time position

Creating content (videos, pictures, graphics, and captions) that promotes your practice to thousands of would-be patients starts with designating a part-time social media position. You’ll need someone who can devote about one-quarter to one-half of their time solely to social media planning, creation, and management. This is key. Successful social media campaigns require focused attention from a staff member who isn’t overwhelmed with other responsibilities. If this isn’t possible, hiring a specialized social media agency is an option.

Plan ahead with a proactive social media strategy

Doing social media right will eventually pay dividends when new patients come into your practice. But it requires a proactive strategy. It’s not something that can be done well on the spur of the moment. Instead, your dedicated staff member has to plan your social media campaign—ideally 1 month ahead of time. This starts with a calendar, a brainstorming session, and plenty of note-taking. You’ll want to have a theme. Mix up the types of posts you create. Write down the days you’ll create static graphics or pictures, and the days that call for video. The goal is to vary your content to keep your audience interested.

Schedule time for your pictures and video

Just as you schedule a time to see patients, you’ll also need to schedule a time for social media video and picture opportunities. This could mean anything from having someone record you performing an exam to talking directly to the camera about the benefits of aligners or braces. The important thing is that you make yourself and your staff available to the designated social media person for that all-important content creation piece of the puzzle.

Use Canva to create social media content

Once video and pictures are shot, you’ll need to edit and package them in a way that promotes your practice’s brand and image. Canva is an online graphic design website that offers tools to create impressive-looking social media content. The fact that it’s user-friendly and inexpensive is a bonus.

Use a scheduling tool

You will need to use the Facebook and Instagram business suite to schedule posts. All still content should be scheduled in advance on the calendar tool to automatically post on the designated date. (This removes the need for daily, manual posting which is not ideal.) Impromptu posts should be reserved for videos with trending audio that you can’t do ahead of time because you don’t know what’s going to be trending.

Read more: Tracking ROI for your orthodontic practice’s social media strategy

What’s social media engagement

Advanced content creation and scheduling free up time to focus on doing the daily task of real-time engagement with your audience. Somebody should be interacting with people who comment on your posts. It’s not enough to have followers and “likes” because this doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of people are seeing your content. Facebook and Instagram also measure engagement, which means your viewers comment on your content and you respond to their comments.

Actively find your ideal orthodontic patient

Another way to bring new patients/parents into your practice is to actively find them in Facebook groups and interact with them. In order to find Facebook groups where your ideal patient/parent is hanging out, you need to do a deep dive analysis into who your ideal patient/parent is and figure out as many things about them as you can. Where do they like to eat dinner? What do they do for fun? How old are their kids? What do they do for a living? And then by looking at Facebook groups associated with the different attributes of your ideal patient/parent, you would be able to then go into those groups and interact with them.

How to interact in groups

Once you are part of the Facebook groups where your ideal client hangs out, you’ll want to interact with them. Interacting in groups is one way to build social media engagement and bring new people to your brand. But it takes some finesse. It’s the same thing as interacting in real life. You would never walk up to someone in public and say, “Hey, I own an orthodontic practice. Do you want to be my patient?” You would start out by commenting about something, for example, the weather, and they would respond. It’s a bit like courting. It’s building those relationships in a very organic way. The goal is to get to the point where they notice you are from an orthodontic practice and if they have a question they can ask it or send you a message. OP

Andrea Smith owns Smith Social Company, a social media agency dedicated to supporting specialty physician practices. She has a decade of experience in healthcare operations, physician relations, and referral management.