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One Dentist’s Success With Social Networking

Article featured in the June issue of Dental Economics

This month’s interview is with Michigan dentist Sal Aragona, DDS, MAGD. Dr. Aragona opened his doors in 1980 and has helped more than 5,000 residents in the Clinton Township area improve their smiles with the most advanced, quality cosmetic and restorative dental care. He enjoys making a difference in his patients’ lives and uses a variety of avenues to communicate the value of good dental health. Visit Dr. Aragona’s website at www.aragonadentistry.com to access his Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.

For many dentists, the thought of a Facebook page or blog seems overwhelming, difficult, and incapable of adding value to their marketing. But if you ask Michigan dentist Dr. Sal Aragona, he will tell you just how helpful and engaging a social media campaign can be for a dental practice.

After he launched his practice website with Officite in 2008, it didn’t take long for Dr. Aragona to recognize the powerful opportunities of his online presence. This included using his integrated blog, and setting up Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube profiles, which has enabled him and his office to connect, communicate, and share with patients like never before.

Too many practices feel intimidated with the idea of a social network. “How will my practice benefit?” “What do I talk about?” “What if I’m too busy?” All of these are valid concerns, but Dr. Aragona’s social network is proof that a dental practice of any size can leverage a sound social network to the practice’s advantage.

With more than 200 people “liking” his Facebook page (this means they follow his Facebook activity), and thousands of people viewing his testimonial videos on YouTube, Dr. Aragona is optimizing his social network in order to build awareness for his practice and reach an ever growing generation of Internet-savvy patients.

How does he do it? Most importantly he keeps his social network updated. An effective social network requires ongoing management and consistent, fresh activity. Let’s face it — if you aren’t adding value to your social media sites, why would patients want to join or revisit these pages?

To streamline the maintenance process, Dr. Aragona uses his blog as the nucleus for his social media activity. Together with his staff, Dr. Aragona crafts useful and informative articles which are posted to his blog on a regular basis.

The blog is integrated with his website, and each post is synced with his Facebook and Twitter pages. This means every time his blog is updated, all the other social media sites are updated. Patient-friendly blog topics have included sedation dentistry, the importance of routine cleanings, mini implants, and bruxism, to name a few.

Share some personal information

It’s not all teeth and gums, however, in terms of the information Dr. Aragona shares with patients via his social media platforms. He reveals the practice’s personality and human side by authentically engaging with patients. When the practice celebrated its 30-year anniversary last summer, Dr. Aragona included a video about the celebration on his Facebook page.

In August, the practice held an Invisalign open house. The event was posted to his Facebook page and patients who “liked” his page were instantly notified via a virtual Facebook invitation, demonstrating the exponential reach and fast dissemination of information capable via social networking.

With each Facebook user having an average of 130 Facebook friends, this is a highly effective way to expose the practice to a large audience very quickly. Patients can also view photos of the doctor, staff, and other patients directly from the Facebook page. It’s a fun and informal way for people visiting Dr. Aragona’s social media sites to get a feel for what the practice is about — a genuine relationship and exceptional patient care.

Not only are patients visiting Dr. Aragona’s social media pages, they are contributing and interacting with Dr. Aragona, his staff, and other patients. It’s called “social” media for a reason, and one of the best indicators of the social network’s success is the frequency with which patients contribute.

Patients’ interactions on these sites — their comments and “likes” — clearly demonstrate their interest in what Dr. Aragona says and their eagerness to communicate with the practice online.

Social media is viral, and if done correctly can have a tremendous impact on referrals and treatment acceptance. Dr. Aragona frequently posts patient testimonial videos to his social networking sites. Not only is this a great way to demonstrate the quality of his service, it also helps build treatment awareness and credibility for the practice.

Below the Facebook video of two daughters sharing their experience with braces, the mother writes to Dr. Aragona, “You did a great job! We’ll miss you guys when this is all done. Thanks for caring!” The power of this simple statement is huge, especially for a patient who may be contemplating similar procedures.

An integrated Web strategy

To maximize the impact of his marketing strategy, Dr. Aragona takes an integrated approach by tying his social media efforts with his practice website. With the website serving as the center of his online operations, Dr. Aragona ensures his patients get a unified online experience.

Social media icons on the home page of his website direct patients to the individual social channels. Vice versa, patients can easily access the practice’s website for more information about the practice’s services from Dr. Aragona’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog pages.

Dr. Aragona is just one of many dentists who have recognized the power and usefulness of social media as a marketing platform.

While social networking certainly won’t deliver an instant return on investment, with time it can build awareness for your practice, and serve as an outlet to drive appointments through enhanced awareness, increased referrals, and improved treatment acceptance.

What is the bottom line? Social media is not a fad. It’s a referral network, and dentists can easily join the conversation with the help of an online dental marketing company to engage with existing patients and reach potential patients.

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