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Bringing Social Media into Your Marketing
Tips for effectively using platforms such as Facebook to increase business
By Dylan McCarthy
A social media presence is an essential part of a successful marketing plan. Considering the constantly evolving state of popular social media networks and the introduction of new “must-have” channels seemingly every week, getting your laboratory into the social space can be difficult. Incorporating social media into your overall marketing plan does not need to be confusing. If you follow a few simple guidelines, building and growing your laboratory’s social presence can be a low-cost, rewarding, and fun way to engage current and future customers.
If you do not fancy yourself a social media expert, getting started is often the most difficult part of great social marketing. If your laboratory is not already involved with social media, the first step to a successful presence is choosing the right platform. As the most popular social network in the world, and one that boasts more than 100,000 dental professionals in the US, Facebook is the best place to start building your laboratory’s social presence. Facebook is the most flexible of the major social platforms, with no major character restrictions on posts and direct video uploads, and it features an easy-to-learn but hard-to-master advertising system.
An all-too-common misconception is that you need to be on multiple platforms to get the most out of your social marketing efforts. While having a presence on different social channels will allow you to reach more people, popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram call for very different strategies. It’s easy to spread yourself too thin if you are not aware of best practices for each platform and do not dedicate the time to keeping each of your profiles up to date. One profile that is updated frequently is infinitely more effective than five profiles with sporadic posting.
Content is King
So you have your new Facebook page complete with a profile picture, cover photo, and link back to your website; what’s next? Where are the legions of followers looking to work with your laboratory?
Well, it's important to understand that building a proper social media presence takes time, especially in this niche market. You are unlikely to suddenly find yourself with 1,000 likes on Facebook and a ton of new orders after a month or two of posting. It is a bit of a slow burn, but the long-term payoff is well worth it.
Like most areas of digital marketing, content is king on social media and posting the right kinds of content is what makes a great social presence. There is no magic list of posts that will grow your presence, but all of your content/posts should be conversational in tone. You are reaching out to your audience directly. You want users to like, comment on, and share your content, and the best way to do this is to maintain a positive and engaging tone. Additionally, all of your content should prioritize mobile users. With more than 80% of Facebook’s users accessing the site through mobile devices, you can guarantee the majority of your audience will see your laboratory’s content on a smartphone or tablet.
When it comes to specific posts, keep the interests of your audience at the forefront and try to keep personal opinions to a minimum. If you find an article on dental technology that you think your audience should read, or have a new promotion that benefits your customers, post it on your laboratory’s Facebook page. If you want to talk about your favorite presidential candidate, or share a funny video, don’t post it on your laboratory’s Facebook page.
This is not to say that you can’t have any “fun” content. Lighter content such as holiday greetings, motivational quotes, and humorous videos can help round out your page’s personality, but these kinds of posts should be minimal. The majority of any great page’s content is timely and relevant information for your audience.
Paid vs. Unpaid
A full breakdown of paid vs. unpaid social media marketing could make up an entire article on its own, but it is necessary to look at some of the high-level details. Building a social media presence takes time, but using social advertising can expedite this process if you are promoting the right content and using the best targeting options available. However, simple mistakes can make social advertising a complete waste of money.
Let’s use Facebook advertising as an example. With Facebook, you can create a variety of different ads tailored for different objectives such as increasing the number of followers on your page, sending users to a specific page of a website, and increasing engagement on a specific post. These goals can be achieved with very minimal spending. Many pages, however, overlook Facebook’s robust targeting options, wasting any creative effort spent on the content.
Facebook’s targeting capabilities are incredibly specific. For example, if you want your ad to target dental professionals in Minnesota between the ages of 35 and 61 who have interests in restorative dentistry and periodontology, Facebook can accomplish just that.
In spite of this, many businesses promote their Facebook content with minimal targeting. Sure, you may receive 30 likes on your post in less than an hour, but that engagement means little if it is not coming from your target audience.
These are the building blocks for a productive and effective social media presence. Every profile across all popular social media platforms has a distinct personality and content strategy, including the profile(s) for your laboratory.
While it may seem daunting, once you become accustomed to posting and engaging with your audience, you’ll see just how rewarding social media marketing can be.
Dylan McCarthy is a Digital Campaign Coordinator and Social Media Specialist for Lanmark360 in West Long Branch, New Jersey.