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KNOXVILLE, Tenn., U.S.: Mark Schaefer is considered to be one of the most influential social media marketing experts. He is an educator, a business consultant and the author of many bestselling marketing books. In this interview, Schaefer shared his opinion about current marketing trends, the importance of establishing a strong social media presence, and optimizing a dental practice’s website for search engines in order to acquire more patients and generate revenue.
Mr. Schaefer, what are some of the most significant marketing trends today?
Many changes are occurring at the moment, but I think the three most significant ones are the rise of voice search, the decline of trackable cookies (which enable ad personalization) and the new state regulations aimed at protecting consumer privacy. I think the digital marketing world in general must find a way to rebuild consumer trust.
How important is it for a dental practice to have a strong social media presence in today’s digital era?
That depends. Without question, nearly all of our customers and potential customers spend time online. But if you’re not creating truly remarkable and helpful content, you’re just adding to the noise. The business case for social media is “come waste time with me.” Why would anybody waste time with you? You have to answer that question first before committing to a social media strategy. Otherwise, you’re just checking a box.
You emphasize that it is imperative to build an actionable audience. Could you elaborate on that in relation to dental marketing?
A social media audience represents weak relational links. Just because somebody follows you or likes you, it doesn’t mean he or she will ever create any economic benefit for you. A “like” is as if he or she is waving at you. To really succeed in social media, you need to leverage that potential by truly engaging with your audience in a unique, personal and memorable way. An example would be bringing people together for a community event or meeting social media friends for lunch or coffee and building a real bond.
“The cold fact is that traditional SEO hardly works anymore unless you are building truly valuable and authoritative content on your site”
Search engine optimization (SEO) has undergone multiple changes in recent years. How can dental professionals use SEO to their advantage to bring more leads to a dental practice’s website?
This is a very big question. Many businesses are approaching SEO like it is still 2010 and consequently just wasting a ton of money. The cold fact is that traditional SEO hardly works anymore unless you are building truly valuable and authoritative content on your site. My advice is to ask your SEO expert to provide a comparison of the domain authority rating for you and your nearest competitors. If you are far behind, ask for a plan to get ahead, and then monitor this progress closely.
Poor social media presence can affect a company’s reputation. What are some of the worst social media marketing mistakes dentists can make?
The biggest mistake by far is that of just putting fluffy or meaningless content on the web. Many businesses believe that, if they are not publishing content, they are falling behind, when in fact they are just checking a box and probably won’t realize any real business value.
Take a look at your social media account. Are you creating content people would discuss over brunch? If not, you’re probably aiming too low.
Editorial note: More information about Mark Schaefer and his marketing blog can be found here.