So much of what is written about social media focuses on Facebook, with Twitter and YouTube following closely behind. A recent article published on DentistryIQ.com says that LinkedIn should not only be included in the mix but should actually be #1 on a dentist’s social media To-Do list.
The article asserts that LinkedIn users are more likely to fall into your target patient profile, with an average user age of 44 years and an average income of over $100,000. While those figures sound impressive, and I agree LinkedIn should be a part of a dentist’s marketing mix, I still encourage my clients to build solid profiles on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube. When it comes to online marketing, LinkedIn is fundamentally different from these sites. Here’s why:
LinkedIn is an online networking site, focusing primarily on business-to-business relationships. Most dentists have a business-to-consumer strategy, which is not to say that LinkedIn does not have a very real place in dental marketing, but rather that it should not replace other social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter where users are more comfortable with interacting with brands.
Also, when it comes to most social media sites, I recommend my clients build their profiles under the name of the practice rather than in the individual dentist. This builds an overall consistent branding strategy for the practice, and consolidates for a group practice what could be several profiles into one powerful all-inclusive profile.
With that said, my recommendation for LinkedIn would be slightly different. You can build a LinkedIn business page for your practice but it is also important to have an individual profile for each dentist first. Again, as LinkedIn is primarily to be used for professional networking, it is all about relationship-building. LinkedIn users connect with other like-minded professionals, some of whom may be your patients. Others may be fellow dentists, specialists, doctors, business owners, community leaders, and referral sources…yes, they may turn to you for dental services, but they can also be great sources of information when it comes to running a successful business.
If you are reading this and thinking you don’t have time to squeeze another site into your social media plan, think about automating your updates through sites such as Hootsuite. But automating your posts doesn’t equate to a “set it and forget it” mentality. Social media is about engagement — so if someone directly contacts you, be sure to take a few minutes to acknowledge them.
LinkedIn definitely should be a part of your online strategy but remember its unique purpose: professional networking. When used in conjunction with other social media sites, LinkedIn can be yet another tool in your social media arsenal!