If you are looking to use social influencers to promote your dental practice and the treatments it offers, then great – but do you know if what they are posting is legitimate – or is it making a mockery of your ethical dental marketing? Shaz Memon reports
Social influencer marketing has garnered a lot of media interest in a very short space of time – thanks largely perhaps to posts that flout the general rules of advertising.
Incidents of shameless product promotion dressed up as enthusiastic support has given the dental marketing world some food for thought regarding the shape of its rapid digital development and brands now have to tread carefully in how they engage and with whom.
But influencer marketing is booming in the dental sector.
It offers practices and dentists an amazing opportunity to engage with patients who may otherwise ignore the more obvious advertising channels.
Critics aside, many brands cleverly use influencers well in their day-to-day marketing strategy and to great benefit, with paid partnerships, that are clearly flagged up as such, an effective tool.
Good influencer marketing is transparent about paid content and, with a small business reliant on word-of-mouth recommendations, a dental practice owner knows only too well better the power of patient persuasion.
From adult orthodontics, such as Invisalign, to teeth whitening, composite bonding, veneers to hygiene treatments and smile makeovers, influencers can make a huge difference to your practice with quality endorsements and high exposure – and, as a consequence, this will boost your bottom line. They also can be used to make your dental website design stand out.
With many of your potential patients spending huge amounts of time on social media, recommendations are increasingly coming from these internet influences.
However, for those people looking to engage with a social influencer, blogger or vlogger as part of their dental marketing strategy, it is important to choose wisely and err on the side of caution and common decency with endorsements.
Regulators at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have upped the ante with those social influencers who fail to make clear what are paid partnerships.
The ASA recently launched a new guide to help everyone understand the boundaries. The Influencer’s Guide adds clarity to this form of marketing that is patently in the ascendant, making clear what the rule expect. Developed in collaboration with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), it published in reaction to the exponential growth of influencer marketing.
The guidance outlines the rules, what it is the ASA considers is an advert as well as offers suggestions as to how brands can make clear that ads are ads.
The need to be clear
Chief executive Guy Parker explains: ‘People shouldn’t have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to. That means the status of a tweet, blog, vlog, Instagram post or story should be clear.’
Of course, the GDC’s Standards for the dental team should also shape any dental marketing activity, stating that: ‘You must make sure that any advertising, promotional material or other information that you produce is accurate and not misleading, and complies with the GDC’s guidance on ethical advertising.’
In essence, honesty is the best policy and openness a necessity.
So, how best to leverage dental social media and influencer marketing?
Firstly, Instagram is widely considered the primary platform for many influencer-brand campaigns so you need to ensure your dental practice has an established account that is buoyant and fed frequently with eye-catching posts. Facebook and YouTube, of course, are also great platforms to get your brand seen.
Your next step is to settle on your target market. Are you looking to entice a younger demographic into your practice?
Then, you need to find an influencer who fits with your market. This relationship needs to be authentic and the influencer should reflect your brand, as well as have enough followers to make engagement count.
Hashtags and followers
To find relevant influencers, consider doing a search on key social media platforms using phrases such as the company does Google searches for specific interests such as #beautyblogger #healthblogger and #healthylifestyle as well as key hashtags such as #perfectsmile #cosmeticdentistry and #smilemakeover to look for accounts related to healthcare and cosmetic treatments and see what your competitors are doing and with whom they’re engaging.
The number of followers is not a measure of success alone especially as they can be artificially inflated – although Instagram is taking measures to stop people buying followers and has disabled many accounts completely – but in the meantime, so do check for the quality of comments, reposts and feedback, too.
Those accounts that interact with followers stand out. Once you reach out to them, be clear about your intentions so they understand exactly what it is you wish to achieve.
Promoting certain procedures to your target audience via a social influencer can stir interest and, subsequently, boost the take-up of adult orthodontics with Invisalign, composite bonding or teeth whitening, for example.
Paid partnership is now widely recognised as a valuable marketing tool – with many benefits.
Invisalign, for example, has teamed up with several TV and sports personalities as well as social influencers, beauty bloggers and vloggers in order to promote the system.
These micro-influencers – social media personalities with often small but engaged audiences – are an everyday part of the online world of those glued to their smartphones.
Statistics suggest smaller influencers with niche followers may even wield more influence when it comes to effective social media marketing.
Indeed, many dental practices with young patients who have robust social media accounts should consider encouraging them to post their story and ‘before and after ‘photos – their followers could be your next patients walking through the door.
A ‘thank you’ for doing so can come in many guises.
Offering complimentary teeth whitening or even a discount on a key treatment, for example, can enable you to promote via a social influencer.
Social influencer marketing is an accepted part of a business’s online promotional tactics, so don’t be afraid to harness its power, just be sure that if any money is exchanged, content is clearly marked as a paid promotion.
Both you and your influencers have a responsibility to signpost any post that’s a paid partnership post – and Instagram (and Facebook) have a tag, or tool, designed for content creators to use in a bid to ‘bring transparency and consistency to branded content’ on their platform.
The relationship can work well within a robust dental marketing plan. Just make sure you promote with clarity and transparency. Full disclosure is essential in you wish to maintain your practice integrity and avoid damaging patient trust.