Social Media has changed marketing and there’s no going back. The media that were once the mainstay of traditional marketing: radio, newspaper, the television, yellow pages have all been surpassed by the internet.

Those that run professional practices sometimes overlook social media – not realizing the power that social media marketing can bring to attracting business in their local markets.

We haven’t even begun to feel the impact of Social Media – three to five years from now we may begin to really understand the changes that are just now beginning to take hold.

Social Media is provides huge opportunity for attracting new patients to your practice, and to enhance relationships with your patients of record.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can use social media to expand your practice.

1. Build a community of raving fans What the most powerful means of getting new patients? Bet you’d say word of mouth referrals. Using a Blog, a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter can explode your ability to get the word out to others. Chance are you have people who are loyal to your practice and appreciate the work you do and the quality of service and caring you offer. Social media presents a great opportunity for them to share their fabulous experiences with others.

2. Become the “Expert” in your area Answer questions, interact with your patients, and publish articles on subjects related to the services you provide. Become a trusted source of information for your patients. If you do Implants, educate your patients about why Implants are the treatment of choice for people that have missing teeth. Provide real value and be a voice in your community.

3. Reach new patients Write about things your patients want to know about. Sharing information that is interesting and informative is key. If you provide valuable information, chances are people will share these articles with their friends. Once you capture their interest, they will sign up to learn more interesting facts and relevant information – they’ll ‘follow you’. When that happens they will begin exploring your “about me” page, learning more about you and your practice. If they like what they see – guess what? Chances are they will become a patient. We all have choices to make in health care and it can be confusing, even overwhelming. Why not choose the person who’s already helped you and proved their interest in you? That’s a no-brainer for most of us. It’s easier than you think. If you don’t think you have time to write or put articles together, you can easily and effectively outsource your ideas to be written by a professional.

4. Patient Feedback Feedback is critical to the success of your practice. Do you get feedback from your patients? What methods do you employ? Using a blog and Facebook can quickly give you instant feedback on what your patients need and want. You can create a poll through Facebook asking your patient’s things like “What is your favorite thing about our office? Or would you like to see more “spa” type services incorporated in our practice?’ Or, what one thing would improve your experience in our office? How can we serve you better?

5. Build Relationships It’s hard to build relationships when you are busy with your hands in your patient’s mouths. Using social media and communicating with your market gives them a chance to get to you know you. Building relationships is key to long lasting patients. The famous business trainer Zig Ziglar is aptly quoted as saying “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” These are great words of wisdom and this is a perfect way to show that you care.

Look at social media as a way to open new doors and leverage your current relationships. Remember this is not a place to sell your new Oral B toothbrushes. This is not about a sales pitch or a guilt trip. Ever.This is a way to connect with people – to be open, honest and transparent. If you do these things I promise your practice will explode! It’s about providing value that doesn’t have to do with revenue – at least not on the front end. We’ll talk more about what it means on the back end later. That’s where people find meaning, and you build value.