Going Social to Build Community
How a Specialty Dental Practice Went Social to Connect During Pandemic
From the handmade signs posted along roadways to the evening ritual of honking and clapping as essential workers ended their shifts, we were so touched by the many ways that people were found to show their appreciation to those on the front lines during a global pandemic.
As a dental practice specializing in smile makeovers, we wanted to give back to these everyday heroes in our own way.
At a time when social distancing had more people than ever connecting via social media, we knew we wanted to use social media to not only invite people to nominate essential workers for a smile makeover, but also to share how these people had inspired them and made them smile. Through social media, we could give some well-deserved attention to essential workers, and award one with a $20,000 smile makeover.
We chose Instagram for a campaign that was designed to achieve several goals:
- Community: Asking people to share stories of others who are inspiring them and making them smile through the pandemic is be a fun way to foster a sense of community while recognizing the people who keep daily life on track.
- Engagement: As a highly interactive social channel, Instagram allowed us to invite participation on a dedicated page that we could also share among partner sites. The visual nature of Instagram and the ease of uploading photos and videos offered a low barrier to entry that any Instagram user would find easy to navigate.
- Awareness: Instagram is a great site to introduce yourself and your practice on both a local and national level, allowing for brief messages to be paired with photos of before/after procedures, staff, facilities, and lots of smiles. According to Instagram, 90% of users follow a business account.
- Visibility: A very visual social channel, Instagram allowed our campaign to tap into a huge audience of more than 120 million users in the U.S. and 37% of U.S. adults.
- Showcase: The new Instagram site served as a way to showcase the excellent work of our practice while elevating our expertise in specialty dentistry. It also allowed for the posting of patient testimonials and other positive feedback.
- Target: While 23% of 50 to 64 year-olds use Instagram, it’s most popular among our target age for smile makeovers: 57% of 18 to 29 year-olds use the site. In addition, according to Pew, fully 52% of Instagram users fall in the $75,000+ income range.
Results Worth Smiling About
Running for one month in the summer, we were happy to see not only new followers engaging with our #SmilesForBostonHeroes page, but also existing patients sharing their own smile makeover stores. The campaign boosted our Instagram engagement by 900% and allowed us to share some truly inspiring stories of local heroes.
But no social media channel is a once-and-done engagement strategy. To really build and maintain your brand, an ongoing stream of posts is necessary. For a business like a dental practice, the following mix of posts is a good place to start:
- Educational—By providing educational information, you’re performing a service to your community and your patients, existing and potential. Try for a mix that includes something fun, like an #AskMeAnything featuring yourself or another specialist in your practice. This allows people to get to know you better while underscoring your expertise.
- Inspirational—Posting photos and videos of your work along with the stories of the people whose lives you’ve changed through your work. Whether it’s a full smile makeover or the huge difference fixing a broken tooth can make, your own practice is full of inspiration every day.
- Personal—Let patients get to know you on a personal level by posting occasional photos and stories about yourself, including activities that enhance your expertise like going to a seminar or teaching a new technique. You can even share your hobbies, post a photo of your family or pets. Get creative.
- Interactive—Be sure to encourage interaction among your followers. Invite them to share their own stories via your Instagram page, and/or, like we did, sponsor an award that builds awareness of your practice while supporting your local community.
If social media hasn’t been among your top outreach priorities in the past, now is the perfect time to shift focus and begin building a community that transcends distance.
Dr. Charles Sutera , FAGD, is a doctor of dental medicine, TMJ specialist, board-certified in moderate dental anesthesiology, and renowned for high profile cosmetic dental reconstructions. He is a certified Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and is the founder of his dental practice, Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction.