By Warren Bobinski, DMDrep
Social networking is booming! Facebook and Twitter are not just about finding out what your old high school buddies are up to. They are a convenient way to interact with anything you have an interest in. Here are some things that will become major forces in social networking, and also some reasons why you will want to consider this form of communication.
- Facebook allows you to share only information you choose to share. You have the ability to set your privacy so that only friends see certain information, only colleagues see other information, and casual acquaintances and businesses may not see more than your name. If you join, take time to learn the privacy settings. Don’t miss out on something that more than 350 million people have adopted in the last couple of years.
- Facebook allows advertisers to direct market to those who have an interest in what they have to sell. If you are interested in guitars (like me for example) when you publicly post this interest, advertisers can discreetly post on your Facebook homepage. I am using this right now to advertise DMDrep! I asked Facebook to allow my ads to run specifically to dentists, dental auxiliaries, and dental companies. I limited my budget to what I am comfortable with and the method I feel comfortable with — I pay per click or per impressions. So I have been able to find Gibson Guitar, Martin Guitar, and several bands that I love simply because I posted this in my interests.
- Twitter allows this same type of thing. If you post that you are heading to Arizona for a golf holiday, then soon perhaps a travel company, golf resort, golf discounter, or Taylor Made clubs will be following you! They are basically asking you to follow them. If you have an interest in what they have to sell, you will do yourself a favor to see what they are selling — there will be some powerful campaigns in the future using this type of marketing! It’s very inexpensive (virtually free) and the benefit for the company is a very direct audience — one that wants to know what these companies are offering. A great promotion can easily turn viral! If you get a good deal on something, you will want to share this information with your friends … and you can if you network! Plus, you would love getting this information from your friends who share the same interests, right?
What Web site got the most hits on Christmas Day? Google? CNN? Yahoo? Microsoft? Some electronic store? The North Pole? Nope, according to Hitwise, Facebook was the most viewed Web site in the world on Christmas! And how many of you are on Facebook?
Why set up a Facebook/Twitter account?
Facebook is the current king of social networking, and I think they have the right formula. The reason people like to visit Facebook is because of its ease of use. And don’t forget about the variety of interesting things you can do, the thousands of useful applications, the networking with like-minded people, and the ability to share what you want with whomever you want.
Here is my analogy of Facebook and Twitter: Facebook is like a party where you’re the host and you get to invite anyone you want. You can divide the party into groups — family, friends, dental, work, etc. Then you can visit any group you want. Want to hear what a network of dental patients is saying? Go over and take a listen. Or you can just address your family and let them know you posted some pictures of your holiday without sharing them with the world. If you want to ask your network of colleagues a question, you can address them specifically and not share the information with anyone but them. You can even be more specific and ask only certain members of that group.
Facebook has been working hard to make sure the privacy settings are there, but I’m not sure if most people take advantage of using them properly. If you are uncertain, you can set up a strictly professional page and not publish anything but business-related material and socialize only within certain interest groups.
Twitter is another “party” situation, except you’re inviting yourself to the party. With Twitter, you find the party you’re interested in and then “follow” the conversation. CNN is a great way to start using Twitter and probably one of the most useful Twitter parties I go to. I use an application on my blackberry called Echofon (look it up in the Blackberry application store). It’s an awesome application to take Twitter mobile and use all the Twitter tools. In order to get the most benefit from Twitter, you should organize your “parties” into groups. I have mine organized into music, dental, social media, and news, then I simply switch between interests to listen in on each party. Through Twitter, you can exchange information with other fans, even with the person you’re following!
The benefit of tweeting is that when you tweet an interest, it is a searchable term. If you say, “I’m going to the Elton John concert tonight,” you might think no one would care, but you are also advertising this information to marketing people searching for terms. The company promoting Elton John may follow you hoping that you’ll check out their Twitter profile and follow them. If you decide to follow them, you may be invited to an inside party or to receive a free T-shirt. Hopefully you understand the marketing aspect of Twitter and why this is a growing force. If a patient asks on Twitter about where to get his or her teeth bleached, he or she will be followed by 10 marketing companies right away. Hopefully, the local dentist will also follow this person and point him or her in the safest direction.
You have already noticed almost every major company has a Facebook and Twitter presence. Now to the next step…
How to set up a Facebook account
- Go to Facebook.com. I suggest that you set up two pages — one as a personal page and one as a business or fan page for you and your brand. You will find both options on the Facebook.com home page.
- Get your pages set up. Simply follow the instructions. It’s easy to do. I highly recommend adding information you are comfortable with. The more information you enter, the better your Facebook experience. Facebook learns through your profile how to hook you up with friends — people who work where you work, who have the same interests as you, or who do the same work as you. Adding a picture will help your page look more professional and personal and will encourage your friends to hook up with you.
- Set your privacy. In my opinion, this is the most important rule on Facebook. On the top right tab there is a “settings” menu. Pull this down for applications and privacy. This is where you determine who sees what you post and who can correspond with you. Explore all the options here.
- Check out the ads. Explore the Facebook ads section of “My Account” to learn how to create a Facebook ad for the product or service you want to promote.
Why Facebook advertising?
This section isn’t for everyone. I understand the issues with promoting our profession, but it’s something that needs to be understood because the world is shrinking and we must prepare for that. The Internet is bringing the world together very quickly, so understanding how it all works is important. If you don’t think so, then think of some of the benefits you’ve gained and how the Internet affects how your customers think.
Have you ever used a search engine to educate yourself? Where did you get this information? Did you trust it? Try a search on “teeth bleaching” to see what patients see. Are they getting the best information possible? Who is running the advertising beside the Google search? How can we make sure our patients are getting correct information on dental procedures when they do a Google search?
Have you ever price compared on eBay or by using a search engine? You get the benefit of a much smaller world because of the Internet. Your customers are doing the same thing. They use the Internet to research anything they’re unsure of … and the next generation is very adept at searching. It’s part of their lives and even built into their phones.
The Internet has truly become a referral engine. When you want to find the best restaurant, where do you go? If you move to a new neighborhood or city, how do you find the places that match your interests? We ask for personal referrals and search the Internet. Guess what Facebook does? It provides a place where you can ask your friends for referrals.
If you’re on Facebook and not afraid to publicly post your interests, watch the advertising that comes up on the side of your page. DMDrep Fan Club may pop up, or a local dental office, or if you’re into rock music, an ad about when Nickleback is coming to town. Do you get it yet?
Twitter … my last say
Twitter is similar to Facebook, but I think it’s more about following your interests. If you start a Twitter account and want people to follow you, then you need to put up something they want to hear. Several successful Twittering dentists who have thousands of followers publish interesting dental facts on specific procedures. I find Twitter hard to follow, but I can see the potential … and I have networked with about 125 people using this service.
Warren Bobinski started his career in the dental industry in 1983 and is currently working with Henry Schein as a sales manager and consultant. You can subscribe to his blog at blog.dmdrep.com, where he is known as The Everything Dental Guy. He is also available at facebook.com/dmdrep.
Nine things you should never do on Facebook
by Kevin Henry, Editor, Proofs
- Write on a wall instead of communicating privately. We are a voyeuristic society. People love the idea that others are watching what they’re doing. If you have something private to say, don’t do it on a Facebook wall.
- Use Facebook mail instead of e-mail. If you have someone’s e-mail, use it. If you send someone a message through Facebook, he or she has to log into real e-mail, then log into his or her Facebook account to read and reply to your message. Skip the middleman and e-mail directly.
- Write senseless status updates. Do I really need to know you just ate three tacos for lunch? Do I really need to know your cat just coughed up a hairball the size of its head? No. If your Facebook page is used to connect with customers, keep it professional.
- Add, and then forget old friends. It happens all too often. You haven’t seen someone since high school. You vaguely recognize their name on Facebook but not their face. They add you as a friend, and then after you accept them, you never hear from them again.
- Add people you don’t even know. Why would you become “friends” with someone you don’t even know? Why would you want this person to see what you’re writing about your family? Make sure there’s some connection when you add someone as a friend.
- Add self-serving friends. Make sure you’re not just adding someone who will do nothing but make a sales pitch to you. Conversely, don’t be the “salesperson” everyone avoids.
- Update your Facebook profile after you’ve called in sick. If you tell the boss you’re sick, don’t update your Facebook profile about how great “Avatar” was or how nice it was at the beach. Hmmmm … maybe you shouldn’t add your boss as a “friend” at all.
- Use your Facebook status to air grievances. If you’ve got something to say to someone, say it. Don’t post it on your wall. Not everyone is interested in your private life … or who was right or wrong in an argument.
- Upload drunken pictures the morning after. Have a little common sense. If you party on Friday night, don’t post photos on Saturday for the world to see. Remember earlier when we talked about your boss seeing your page? Not only can your boss see what you did, so can your coworkers and customers.