CARVE your Path to Social Media Success

Be Consistent, Accurate, Responsible, Varied and Effective

by Sasha Thompson-Bachtold, MEd

In a social media evaluation of ten dental sleep practices, only 20 percent of practices that appear to practice dental sleep medicine had successfully met all five criteria for optimal social media results.
The CARVE formula is the perfect guide for creating your own path to success. Add the five CARVE questions to your weekly meetings, and you should be well on your way!
To make your social media efforts land with the biggest impact, ask yourself the following:

  • Is your social media posting Consistent? Are you posting to social media on a regular schedule or sporadically?
  • Is your social media connectivity Accurate? Are your website settings and technology set up to reach potential patients the way you want to reach them?
  • Are you socially Responsible online? Are you unintentionally revealing personal health or identifying information about your patients through social media?
  • Is your social media content Varied? Do your posts represent the sort of variety that gets patients to pay attention, or are they repetitive content that makes viewers tune out?
  • Is your social media messaging Effective? Are your posts reflective of the unique qualities of your practice that will inspire viewers to engage?

Is your social media posting CONSISTENT?

Of the ten practices audited, 70 percent posted consistently.
Realistically, a dental sleep practice should post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter once a week. Facebook’s free Facebook Business Manager tool makes it easy to schedule posts for delivery in the future as well as easily manage Facebook ads. Many other social media applications allow practices to schedule future posts in one place. The most common social media scheduler is Hootsuite. The free version of Hootsuite offers future scheduling for up to three social media accounts, which can include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Wonder when to post? A guide to optimal posting times that coincide with practice hours is included on the next page.

Is your social media connectivity ACCURATE?

Of the ten practices audited, 50 percent were connected accurately to social media properties.
Inaccuracy online is a large factor in poor search engine optimization and website ranking. Online properties such as websites, online directories, and social media are at great risk for error and duplication. Commonly, links to social media on websites are designed to open in the same window. This takes website visitors away from the practice site. Check your website settings to make sure that your social media links open in a new tab so you don’t lose visitors to your practice site. Also look for duplicate Google+ listings and Facebook Pages. Delete or merge the duplicates so that your visitors are coming to the one right place and your practice is managing the right page. This saves everyone time, money, and frustration!
Now is a good time to review your website. Look over every page for errors, inconsistencies, and out-of-date information. Make all necessary edits and corrections so that visitors get the most current and accurate impression of your practice. Be sure to have a website page dedicated to each patient research topic and that your social media posts have website links, so visitors can easily find their way back to your practice site.

Are you socially RESPONSIBLE online?

Fortunately, of the ten practices audited, 100 percent were socially RESPONSIBLE online. This is definitely a trend you want to follow.
Review responses on social media are one major concern for keeping protected health information private. When responding to a negative review, take care to not indicate that the reviewer is a patient. Simply state “The office is sorry to hear of the experience. Please call at the earliest convenience.” For a positive statement, a simple “Thank you. That is appreciated.” is the most conservative approach.
Open the review tab in Facebook and make sure no statements are violating this standard. If you find responses to reviews that seem risky, consider removing the Review Tab in the Facebook settings. (It is currently not possible to remove individual responses to Facebook reviews.) Read any responses on Google+ and Yelp as well. Ensure all responses are generic and positive.

It’s always time to review your website. Now is good.

If the practice delivers an email newsletter, ensure the office has recorded permission of recipients who have opted in to receive it. One convenient way to do this is a newsletter sign-up button on the website. Simply provide a form that acknowledges that the patient will receive email notification and automate an email to their inbox. Many patient connection systems already have a newsletter system in place. If so, simply review the software settings for patient permissions and start creating custom personalized quarterly newsletters. For email reminders and newsletters, always have a simple unsubscribe process in place. When taking photos for social media, ensure that there is no patient-sensitive information in the background. If HIPAA compliance is a concern, consider hiring a professional HIPAA compliance agency or auditor.

Is your social media content VARIED?

Of the ten practices audited, 60 percent had VARIED content on their social media pages to drive visitor interest.
For dental sleep medicine, consider the following types of content:

  • User-generated content: Share testimonials of patients who have solved their problems with oral sleep appliances.
  • Influencer endorsements: Repurpose public service announcements by high impact initiatives such as World Sleep Day.
  • Use memes for humor.
  • Use hashtags for finding followers.
  • Use quotes that fit with your message.
  • Share recipes.
  • Celebrate holidays and events.
  • Keep current with hashtag trends by using services such as Unmetric, a social media artificial intelligence company.
  • Use mobile apps such as IMGplay for creating short, edited videos.
  • Use positive psychology in your posts. When creating a visual for sleep apnea, focus on the positive outcome, such as performing well at work, driving safely, or sleeping with a bed partner again.

Is your social media content EFFECTIVE?

Of the ten practices audited, 50 percent had EFFECTIVE content.
20 percent of audited practice Facebook Pages utilized canned, repurposed content from a low-cost social media agency. None of these posts had any engagement from followers. All generic posts were only liked by the practice itself. The most successful posts featured content that was original. Consider the following types of effective content:

  • Personal Videos
    • Doctor and Patient Discussing Treatment
    • Office Events
    • Testimonials
  • Team Photos
  • Health News and Information
  • Practice Team News
  • Humor
  • Pet and Family-Related Content
  • Local Sports
  • Community Service

It’s hard to deny the impact of social media on successful dental-practice marketing in our connected world. Having a formula in place and knowing the tools that can make your social media strategy run more smoothly will take the hassle out of this important element of your marketing plan. Making time each week for your staff to CARVE out a successful social media system for your practice will reduce stress and build results.

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