For the Young Dentist: 5 steps to stand out in the post-Covid world through strong online branding
Dr Kumar Anshul (BDS, MBA), who has leveraged social media & personal branding to his advantage at multiple times during his professional journey, gives tips for the young dentists on how they should establish their brand using some of the best tools available online.
“The world accommodates you for fitting in, but only rewards you for standing out.”― Matshona Dhliwayo
As we slowly come out of lockdown, we can’t help but wonder how exactly a post-coronavirus world will look like and how will it impact the day-to-day clinical practice of a Dentist. Though not all dental procedures are ‘elective’ over an extended period of time (which means, sooner or later, an ailing patient has to knock the doors of a dental practice), an average middle-class tax-paying citizen will think twice before shelling out cash for treatment, thanks to the knee-deep recession perpetuated by mass-layoffs, job losses and reduced levels of production- all brought up by the pandemic.
This article discusses a few steps you should take, a few changes you should make in your lifestyle and a few skills that you should master to continuously pursue differentiation, make your online branding game strong, thereby standing out amongst the crowd.
Improving your online presence is not limited to joining multiple dental groups on Facebook and discussing your cases there. Having a strong digital identity should be aimed at improving your brand equity and let the people in your vicinity know that you exist (and exist for good). Here are some handy tips.
1. Start collecting & documenting reviews/testimonials from patients
You should ensure that every patient who is happy with the treatment leaves with a documented review/testimonial. These testimonials can be a gold mine later for your blog, website, promotional material & social media handles. There are multiple ways to record/document a testimonial depending upon the feasibility & willingness of the patient concerned: -
- Video: A clear 30-60 seconds video shot on your smartphone will do the needful. You might want to do a few trial-runs before shooting the final version.
- Google Reviews: If your clinic is listed o Google, you should request the patient to write an online review on Google as well (in addition to the video testimonial)
- Facebook Reviews: If your Facebook page is up & running (explained later), you can give the link of the review section (every Facebook page has a review section, the link of which can be shared to the patient) to the patient and request him/her to write a review
- Post-It: In case of geriatric or paediatric patients, where it is difficult to get an online review, you can request them to write it on a simple Post-it. You can use the images of these Post-it reviews later in your online promotional material. Avoid using Visitor’s Book to get the review written as they can’t be used later for promotion on digital platforms.
2. Start building a mailing list
Even before you start content creation and dissemination, you must start building a mailing list. As a rule, you should include the e-mail ids of your patients. Next would be to collect business cards from people around your vicinity (who can be your prospective patients) and get someone to manually add all the emails in your mailing list. Email Ids collected from these two sources can be used to build your initial mailing list which you can keep building in the future with the help of your website/blog & social media campaigns. You can use Mailchimp (Free for 500 emails) or Mailerlite to drive your Email Marketing.
3. Personal Blog
Regardless of the fact that you have your own dental practice or you work with an institution/organization, a personal blog will not only help you to put your thoughts in words, but will also put you ‘out there’. You can write about your experiences in Dental School, oral hygiene awareness, new advancements in Dentistry etc. Try to write on topics which targets the two most important segment- Prospective patients & fellow dentists.
You can easily start a blog on Wordpress. For a more sophisticated design (without the knowledge of any programming language), you can use Wix or Weebly. Once your blog is up & running, you should move to the next step- registering your presence on major social media platforms.
4. Learn the basics of Social Media:- The three most viable social media channel on which a Dentist should be present are Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin
- Apart from your personal profile on Facebook, it is advisable to have a Facebook Page. The page should be named on your own name (for ex. Dr XYZ) if you want to share non-dental content on the page or your dental clinic’s name attached to your own name (for ex Smile Dental Clinic by Dr XYZ) in case you want to keep it exclusively for dental content. In case you are a consultant and don’t have your own practice yet, you can use a Generic name such as “Dentistry by Dr XYZ”. What is important is to include your own name & profile picture to push your own brand identity.
- Instagram is more visual-based and hence the best platform to share your clinical cases and pictures of your community participation, workshops, courses etc. Ensure you link your Instagram page to the Facebook Page so that you don’t need to post twice. Also, use proper hashtags to attract the audience towards your page.
- LinkedIn, by far, is the most professional social media platform. The best advantage of LinkedIn is that you can maintain your full professional identity & achievements at one place in your Linkedin Profile, which you can share it among your target segment. You can mention your education, description of your professional experience, certifications, patents, media releases etc. The new feature on LinkedIn also allows you content creation in the form of blog posts & videos.
5. Be a thought leader through strategic & continuous content creation
Regardless of the platform, you use to create content, the trick is to have a well thought of strategy and timeline for creating content (blog posts, videos, social media posts etc) and following it rigorously. Hubspot has a free online course on Inbound Marketing which is strongly recommended to help you devise your content strategy.
A thought leader is someone who is well-informed, opinionated and a trusted resource for his/her area of expertise. To become a thought leader in Dentistry, you need to create a dedicated group of friends (i.e. fellow Dentists) and followers (i.e. prospective patients) over a period of time, who will vouch for your opinion and will spread the word about you.
Thought leadership takes time (sometimes years); knowledge and expertise in the stream; a high level of punctuality & commitment (in creating & disseminating content). All your efforts in personal online branding should aim at making you emerge as a Thought Leader in Dentistry.
About the author
Dr Kumar Anshul has worn ‘The Marketing Guy’ hat in different capabilities- as a freelancer during his undergraduate days in the dental school, as an entrepreneur, as a Marketing Manager for a bootstrapped startup, as a Marketing & Communication Manager for a leading Dental Equipment firm and finally as a Marketing Strategy & Communication Manager for one of the world’s largest Medical Device firms.
He has leveraged social media & personal branding to his advantage at multiple times during his professional journey and lately has started one-to-one coaching to young Dentists on career development, personal branding & digital marketing through his Instagram channel:- https://www.instagram.com/ansh_isb/
Dr Anshul is BDS from Manipal University and an MBA from Indian School Of Business, Hyderabad. In his free time, he likes to blog on www.kumaranshul.com and dabble in foreign language learning.