Knowing how to best use social media to promote your business isn’t always easy. Fortunately, social media marketing has never been easier thanks to plenty of apps and other targeting tools that can help get you started. Cassy Polimeni investigates
The online landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade, resulting in a brave new world and a wealth of opportunities, and it’s largely due to the evolution of social media.
Once a novel way to connect with friends and family, social media today is a marketing juggernaut and an invaluable tool for promoting your practice. Leader of the pack Facebook boasts two billion monthly active users worldwide, including 15 million in Australia alone, while Instagram has 700 million monthly active users globally and nine million locally. Both offer a range of free and paid resources designed to help you connect with potential customers, so if you haven’t already integrated these platforms into your marketing plan, perhaps it’s time you did.
In recognition of the powerful opportunities available to small businesses on the platform, Facebook Australia recently launched its ‘Street Smart’ campaign, with the aim of teaching business owners the marketing tricks and tips used by large companies, all of which can be achieved on mobile phones.
“Our mission is all about building community and bringing the world closer together. Small businesses play a big role in their local communities both on and offline, and with Street Smart we wanted to focus on one local community and see what we can do to empower them,” says Alexandra Sloane, program lead and head of marketing at Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand.
“We worked closely with three amazing local businesses in [Melbourne bayside suburb] Mordialloc who all had very different objectives when it came to marketing on mobile, and through those stories and the campaigns we helped them with there will be scalable learnings for other small businesses with similar objectives. We also had workshops and a pop-up kiosk where people could wander up and ask questions.”
Facebook hopes to roll out the Street Smart campaign in other parts of Australia in 2018, but in the meantime there are a number of tools available to help you maximise your impact on social media.
Tools of the trade
“If you’re just getting started, I recommend Blueprint,” Sloane says. “It’s free, self-paced e-learning available on any device. Go to facebook.com/blueprint, choose a learning path based on your business objectives, and it will suggest some learning modules for you.
“There are three key tips that we give small businesses. The first is to make sure you’re making the best use of Facebook’s remarkable targeting tools, so dental practitioners might want to think about reaching customers in your local area, and target based on that—it makes your advertising more efficient.
“The second tip is to develop visual and engaging content, which needn’t be daunting because there are tools out there to help. Facebook Mobile Studio is a collection of 10 mobile phone apps that you can use to enhance video or images to promote your business. Apps like Boomerang, which creates mini video loops, or Hyperlapse for time lapse videos. At Facebook, we talk about ‘thumb-stopping content’: what is going to make people stop and view your content while they’re waiting for their coffee? Apps like these are an easy way to make your content really pop. And we realise that small businesses are often time poor, so the Ads Manager app is another good one—it allows business owners to set up and manage marketing campaigns from their mobile phone.
“The third and most important tip is to be clear about your objective when you’re running a paid campaign. So, if you’ve just opened a dental practice and want to let people know, your objective would be brand awareness; or you might have a special offer to promote. Whatever you’re doing with paid advertising should be based on marketing objectives, and making sure that you have a way of measuring what success looks like to you.
“Day to day, Facebook and Instagram can also be a nice way to represent the personalities within a particular practice and give potential customers a chance to get to know you.”
One to watch
One of the industry’s social media success stories is teeth whitening company HiSmile (@hismileteeth), with 1.3 million followers on Facebook and 645,000 Instagram followers. In August this year, HiSmile ran a series of short videos featuring professional boxer and mixed martial artist, Conor McGregor, on Instagram Stories in the lead up to the highly anticipated MacGregor/Mayweather fight. The campaign delivered a return of investment (ROI) of 5:1.
“We know that young people under 25 are spending a lot of time on Instagram so this is a great way to reach them,” a campaign spokesperson said. “HiSmile found that using punchy, bright creative [content] enabled them to drive their brand message in just a 15 second video and were particularly impressed with how they were able to target young men, a demographic they typically find hard to reach.”
A word of warning
While the possibilities of social media marketing are seemingly endless, it’s important to note that regulated health services, including dentists, are governed by advertising laws.
Dr Alexander Holden lectures in dental ethics, law and professionalism at the University of Sydney, and is also a practising dentist. He sees social media engagement as essential for dental practices, but emphasises the importance of familiarising yourself with the rules and regulations concerning healthcare and social media, which are constantly evolving.
“The dental profession is no different to the rest of society in that we are still working out exactly how social media fits into our private and professional lives and how often it bridges the two,” Dr Holden says. “I’ve noticed that many dentists use Facebook to discuss clinical cases and share patient data such as radiographs and clinical photographs, which raises ethical, legal and regulatory issues that still haven’t been fully explored. The main thing is to check that adverts or campaigns do not fall foul of the ban on certain types of advertising, including testimonials.”
So start sharing, set goals, and know the law—the world is your digital oyster.