How to win patients with dental social media marketing

Sitting in a dentist’s chair with your mouth open is undoubtably a vulnerable moment. If you don’t trust your dentist, it’s a downright miserable experience.

Establishing a solid reputation on social platforms is a powerful way to win people over. The right dental social media marketing strategy turns an uncomfortable or potentially uneasy experience into one that places trust at the forefront.

Build a thoughtful social strategy to alleviate fears, demonstrate your expertise, and, ultimately, generate more patients for your practice.

What ineffective dental social media marketing looks like

There are two big mistakes practices make when marketing themselves on social media:

  • Emulating another practice’s strategy instead of leaning into what makes their practice unique
  • Posting the exact same content on every platform instead of tailoring their approach to each

What works well on YouTube won’t necessarily work on Facebook or Instagram because patients are looking for different types of content from a practice on each channel. LinkedIn is a great place to network with other dental practices, but it’s not an effective place to target prospective patients.

Copying another practice’s strategy won’t work either, because you’re not that practice. It’s great to look at other social media accounts for inspiration, but your unique experience, specialties, and knowledge should define the way you approach social media.

Want to boost your reputation on social media? Focus on deepening relationships with your target audience and delivering an authentic message.

Tactic #1: Capture organic traffic on YouTube.

Dental social media marketing on YouTube is all about search. According to Jumpshot, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, after Google. And YouTube’s search bar isn’t the only consideration: Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) often display YouTube videos for relevant keywords.

Leverage YouTube’s powerful SEO potential by producing videos based on high-value, relevant keywords. With the right keywords and video strategy, you’ll capture organic traffic from people who are likely to become your patients.

So how do you find the right keywords? While you’re researching in a tool like Moz or Ahrefs, try putting yourself into the headspace of your ideal patient. Imagine what they might research prior to choosing a practice like yours. What are they not getting from their current dentist? What might you be able to uniquely provide?

Consider more than just the obvious, like “dentist in Hoboken.” Brainstorm the less obvious information a prospective patient might seek before scheduling an appointment.

If a patient is considering cosmetic dentistry, they might research different techniques before selecting a dental care provider. For example, one of Innovative Dental of Springfield’s most popular uploads is Crowns vs Veneers. The video shows how this practice, which specializes in cosmetic dentistry, has built a reputation of excellence in porcelain veneers.

Dental Promotional YouTube Video Examples

By explaining the difference between two options, Dr. Olson leverages his expertise to build trust with a prospective patient. Innovative Dental of Springfield is capturing the right traffic at the right time — the moment when someone is considering a dental service — and builds trust along the way.

Capturing organic searches can help your reputation with existing patients, too. My Kid’s Dentist posts videos that are useful for parents who want to teach their kids about dental hygiene. How to Brush Your Teeth Properly - For Kids is one such video. It uses a playful, kid-friendly cartoon to help a parent communicate — in a way that makes sense to a child — the basics of brushing.

My Kid’s Dentist has offices in multiple locations around the United States, so their marketing strategy is not tied to one location (as opposed to Innovative Dental of Springfield). They don’t feature a location in their company name, and they target search queries that apply nationwide. That approach works for My Kid’s Dentist because it brings in high volumes of organic traffic across lots of geographic areas.

Tactic #2: Show your skills on Instagram.

Instagram is a place to engage with friends and learn from experts. Successful dental social media marketing on Instagram showcases the knowledge and skills of practices in visual, engaging ways.

The visual aspect is key here; this isn’t the place for a scientific essay about Invisalign. It’s the moment to show real smiles that were transformed by Invisalign.

Stories and feed posts are both helpful tools to show your skills in action. Think of a feed post as a visual portfolio of your work and an Instagram Story as a one-on-one interaction. Your feed is the body of work that a prospective patient will see when they visit your Instagram page, so it should demonstrate your skills visually and professionally. Stories are typically viewed by existing followers and feel more intimate, so it makes sense to approach Stories like you might a conversation: casual but professional.

Dr. Desiree Yazdan at the Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry does this well.

Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry

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The well-organized Stories on @dryazdan’s page almost act like a website’s navigation: they’re easy to find, prominently positioned, and categorized based on what a user might need. If you’re about to book an appointment and want to see testimonials, that’s easy to find. If you’re still in the research stage and want to peruse FAQs, Dr. Yazdan makes that easy, too.

On her feed, Dr. Yazdan leverages before and after photos to show the visual impact of her work. A patient considering cosmetic dentistry is probably interested in aesthetics. It’s all about how a smile looks, and photos taken before and after work has been done are a natural way to show the visual value you’re providing.

Example of dentist work via Instagram Post

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Dr. Yazdan builds on these before and after photos with captions that add context about the treatment she used to achieve results. In this case, Yazdan reassures prospective patients that her approach to white-spot removal does not come with pain, fillings, or drilling. She preempts potential fears around getting a treatment like this and uses her expertise to address them.

Tactic #3: Recruit new hires and network for referrals on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is where people go to think about their work lives, not their personal lives. It’s probably not where you’ll find your next patient, but it is a great place for recruiting new hires and networking with other practices.

Leverage your practice’s LinkedIn profile to build a reputation as a great place to work. Talking about your workplace culture, celebrating your team, and posting job openings are great ways to show potential candidates that your practice is a place they want to work.

Consider posting regularly before you’re ready to grow your team to build a reputation in advance. When you are hiring for a role, candidates who check your company’s profile will see a longer history of celebrating team culture. Consistency will feel more authentic than back-to-back posts, which could come across as pandering.

Pediatric Dentistry of Florida does this well. Their LinkedIn page highlights staff members and gives prospective hires a glimpse into the spirit of their practice.

Pediatric Dentistry of Florida LinkedIn Post

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Use LinkedIn Groups to build relationships with relevant providers. Comment on discussions, post thought-leadership content, and avoid sales-y messages. Once you’ve built rapport with a fellow group member who might be able to refer patients to you, reach out one-to-one to deepen the connection. Referrals from other practices are crucial for dentists and are especially helpful for those who specialize in an area like cosmetic dentistry.

Dentistry Today recommends thinking beyond dental groups to network with the right people. Consider joining general medical groups to find referrals and local community groups to network with doctors in your area.

Whichever groups you choose, make sure your posts are engaging instead of promotional. Add your expertise to the group’s conversation, and resist the urge to make it all about you. By showcasing your work, you’ll slowly build a reputation as an expert provider worthy of a referral.

Tactic #4: Leverage social proof on Facebook.

Facebook is the place to engage with people we know and the communities to which we belong. Leveraging social proof on Facebook will help you show that the local community values your practice and sees you as trustworthy.

Sahouria Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics posts good patient experiences on Facebook, with links that call out their location in the header.

Sahouria Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics FB Post

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With each testimonial, Sahouria Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics reminds prospects of their location within the community and demonstrates their unique value.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, a dentist in Beverly Hills, California, takes a very different approach to social proof. Dr. Maddahi posts images of celebrities who visit his practice on Facebook, adding clout to his expertise through a recognizable face.

Dr. Kourosh Maddahi's approach to FB

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This approach won’t make sense for everyone, but it makes sense in Beverly Hills. Not every community is the same, and not every tactic will feel right for every practice. Lean into the spirit of your community and communicate what makes your practice unique to build a local reputation on Facebook.

Tactic #5: Advertise to the right people on Facebook.

When you’re ready to invest in paid advertising, Facebook is a great place to reach prospective patients. Leverage Facebook’s location-based targeting so your ads are seen by people who live in your area and are likely to visit your office. Narrowing your targeting to a ZIP code is helpful for large cities like New York, where three miles is a prohibitively far distance, and a one-mile radius is a great option for drivable areas.

Facebook's location-based targetting

Consider using demographic targeting to further narrow your audience. Targeting new parents is a great option if your focus is on pediatric dentistry, while targeting people interested in fashion and beauty might be successful for cosmetic dentistry.

Facebook Detailed Targeting

Make sure to align your messaging to support the targeting you choose. When you’re targeting a specific geographic area, for example, make it clear you’re a convenient option for that region and community.

Relevancy extends to your links, too. For example, if your ad talks about dentures, link that promotion to a landing page about how you cover that service.

Example of a Dental Ad

Aligning targeting, messaging, and landing pages improves your quality ranking on Facebook. This lowers your costs, all while providing a seamless experience for a prospect clicking on your ad.

Facebook Ad targeting can feel like a wild guess, but CallRail can help you understand what’s effective and what’s not in your advertising. Dental practices using CallRail’s call and form tracking can easily see which audiences, messages, and links generate new patients. A patient who sees your ad online and calls for an appointment won’t be tracked in a Facebook Ad report, but CallRail can attribute it to the right campaign. Using the right tools — CallRail included — frees up valuable time so that you can focus more on your patients.

Tactic #6: Align every channel with the same message.

Identifying your unique selling proposition (USP) is a great way to build the consistency you need to establish an online reputation. Your USP is all about what sets you apart. For some dental practices, it might be innovation. For others, it might be warmth and approachability. Talking about your USP throughout your social channels helps prospects understand who you are, building trust and confidence in your practice.

Meadowmont Dentistry in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has built a reputation around kindness and expertise across social platforms. Their posts on Instagram and Facebook highlight their team and celebrate their patients, supporting the practice’s overall ethos of warmth and knowledge.

Meadowmont Dentistry Facebook Example

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Even their color choice is a cue. In the college town of Chapel Hill, Carolina blue is a de facto symbol of local pride and is used by companies and practices of all forms as a nod to the community. Meadowmont Dentistry uses the color in their branding and social posts to show they understand and care about their town. The consistency in their social strategy sends a clear message: you’re a valued community member, not just a person with a drill in your mouth.

The Super Dentists, a pediatric dental practice in San Diego, California, has built a reputation around fun and playfulness and leans into that across social channels.

Super Dentists

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The Super Dentists use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to reach their audience, with colorful branding, fun costumes, silly songs, and a constant sense of play. This spirit of cheerfulness is a way to assure parents who are worried about their child being afraid of their dentist.

All of your social channels contribute to your online reputation. Though each platform calls for a tailored approach, you should always be conveying the same general message. Your message is unique to your practice, and you probably already know what sets you apart. It’s probably reflected in how you greet patients, the words you use on your website, and the things people say about you in online reviews.

Authenticity boosts your reputation

A good reputation is crucial to growing a practice, but a “good” reputation can look different for different practices. Your online reputation and storytelling has to match the reality of what it’s like to be a patient in your practice. If everything’s aligned, a patient comes into your office with the right expectations. If the online social media story doesn’t match reality, it’ll feel like a bait-and-switch to the patient. The reputation you worked so hard to build will crumble with bad online reviews and lower patient retention.

Consider the factors that have shaped your team, the ideas you see as most important in your field, and the purpose behind your work. All of that should inform the stories and messaging you craft online, allowing authenticity to shine through. When you speak from a sense of purpose and tailor your approach for the right social channels, a great reputation follows.

So, here’s the good news: you get to be yourself online.