Practice management

Practice management

Understanding social media

D

o you sometimes think: ‘If I just cover my head with a pillow, all of this talk about social media might soon go

away’? It does seem like a new social media site is popping up every day, and it is easy to get overwhelmed with it all. Is it just a passing fad? Let’s look at the facts: • Forty-three per cent of online consumers belong to one or more social networks • Seventy-four per cent of social network users send messages to their friends as part of their daily routines • Eighty-seven per cent of parents of teenagers are online • Ninety-six per cent of Generation Y participates in social media.

With 40% of the United Kingdom now on Facebook, it is important that we have an understanding of this social media phenomenon that is rapidly spreading across the globe, and learn how we can use this new form of communication to grow our dental practices. Let’s get started . . .

Because you choose your friends on Facebook you can control the messages you receive, unlike with email – up to 90% of email is spam.

Facebook photos
The photos application is one of the most popular on Facebook, allowing users to upload albums and images. Facebook is the most popular photo-sharing website, with over 100 million photos uploaded to the site each day. Another feature of the photos application is the ability to ‘tag’ users in a photo. For example, if a photo contains a user’s friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. A notification is then sent to the friend to indicate that they have been tagged, providing a link to see the photo.

What is Facebook?
Facebook is the most popular of the social networking sites, having garnered more than 600 million active users (that’s almost 10% of the world’s population) in its seven years. Time magazine named Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, as its ‘Person of the Year’ for 2010, while the creation of Facebook is the subject of a popular 2010 film The Social Network. Users of Facebook may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages on the site. Facebook users now post a billion pieces of content, such as photos and messages, each day. Additionally, users may join common interest groups, organised by workplace, school or university, or other characteristics. The name ‘Facebook’ stems from the title of the book given to American students at the start of the academic year by many university administrations to help students to get to know each other better.

Why do we need to understand social media?
If we intend to market our dental services to younger clients, we need to understand how they communicate. For example, when my daughter was home from university, I never saw her send an email. Instead she was busy with text messages and Facebook. But let’s bust the myth that only Gen X and Gen Y use social media. The fastest growing segment of users of Facebook is now neither secondary school nor university students, but rather females aged between 55 and 65. Why? With the rest of their family on Facebook (the average user now spends an hour a day on the site), it’s the best way for them to keep up with stories and photos of their children and grandchildren! According to the video Social Media Revolution (www.socialnomics.net), below are the number of years it took each of the following to reach 50 million users: • Radio – 38 years • Television – 13 years • The internet – four years • iPod – three years. Facebook, on the other hand, has added 100 million users in just the last nine months! Here, according to the Facebook Global Monitor, is a listing of the per cent of a country’s citizens (not just the per cent of those citizens who are online) who currently maintain a profile on Facebook: • Iceland – 53% • Norway – 46% • Canada – 42% • Hong Kong – 40.5% • United Kingdom – 40% • United States – 35.5% • Chile – 35% • Israel – 32.5% • Bahamas – 30.5%.
June 2011

Create a Facebook page to promote your dental practice
Facebook provides unique, and free, ways to reach its 600 million users. Over 1.6 million businesses now have Facebook pages. People have a ‘profile’ on Facebook, whereas a business has a ‘page’. You and I can have ‘friends’ on Facebook, while a business has ‘people who like this’. Terminology on Facebook Profile Page

The Facebook
On 4 February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched The Facebook, originally located at thefacebook.com. The site was founded by Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students. The website’s membership was initially limited to Harvard students (within the first month, more than half of the undergraduate population was registered on the service), but was soon expanded to other universities in the Boston area. It gradually added support for students at various other universities before opening to high school students and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over.

Represents a person Represents a business Has ‘friends’ Has ‘people who like this’

Ted Janusz demonstrates why Facebook and similar sites are more than a passing fad, requiring would-be users to rise above their fears
xx Implant dentistry today June 2011

Facebook profiles and pages
Users can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal details. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. They can also create and join interest groups and ‘like pages’ (formerly called ‘fan pages’). Facebook requires a user’s name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. The website is free to users and generates revenue from advertising.

You can begin to participate in social media by creating a free Facebook presence for your dental practice. First of all, go to www.facebook.com/pages. In the upper right corner of the screen, select ‘United Kingdom’ from the drop-down menu and, right above it, click the ‘Create Page’ button. Look out for a step-by-step guide to help you make the most of using Facebook and other social media sites in the next issue of Implant Dentistry Today. I

Ted Janusz is a professional speaker, author and marketing consultant. He has presented nearly 500 full-day seminars on a variety of managerial topics. His website can be viewed at www.januspresentations.com.
Implant dentistry today xx

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