Social media is one of the most essential tools to an online marketing strategy. It can endear your dental practice to new patients, and help you gain local reputability. However, social media is also a public place rife with missteps and mistakes, all of which can lead to negative brand perception and loss of business. We want to help you avoid embarrassing your dental practice online, and help you gain more followers and patients, which is why we’ve written this guide on what not to do on social media. Learn from the mistakes of others so that you can reap the full benefits of a well-run social media account.
Avoid Controversial Subjects
Coffee giant Starbucks is not immune to public humiliation, and they experienced that first hand when they introduced a controversial hashtag that was supposed to bring people together. Instead, their #RaceTogether campaign – which encouraged Starbucks baristas to talk about race relations with their customers – was ill-received right out of the gate.
Tackling a subject as large as race relations may be best left to policy makers, journalists, and personal Facebook accounts. Starbucks’ attempt to create a conversation on a very sensitive and controversial subject felt tone deaf and disrespected the issue by thinking that the best place to discuss racial tension was in line waiting for a grande non-fat no-whip mocha. However, if you feel compelled to comment on a current social issue, then do so on your personal accounts. But you should prepare for potential backlash.
It’s best to avoid discussing controversial subjects on your business social accounts. You risk angering a large group of people, and losing a lot of business. If you feel that you must comment on a socially sensitive subject, then we advise that you do it on your personal social media accounts, but even then, you risk a patient disagreeing with your stance and judging you for it.
Check Your Hashtags
If you’ve read our hashtag blog post, then you know all about the importance of using hashtags to grow your followers and chime in on national conversations. However, when you’re creating hashtags to start a conversation, it’s very important that you thoroughly read them to investigate how they could misinterpreted by your followers. Just look at what happened when Burger King introduced low fat fries with their new hashtag #wtff.
Burger King intended for the acronym to stand for “What The French Fry,” but twitter users quickly related their posts to a much more common iteration of the three letter acronym. This makes it incredibly important that you triple and quadruple check the hashtags that you create for any misinterpretations that could be made, or for any conflicting relationship it may have to another, unrelated tag.
Additionally, always research the hashtag before publicly employing it. There are countless examples of companies using a hashtag in the incorrect context and suffering the consequences.
Seasonal social media posts are a great way to celebrate the holidays, and create shareable material by connecting with your followers on an emotional level. While you don’t have to publicly celebrate every holiday under the sun, you should identify which holidays are meaningful to you and your practice and make it a point to post about the positive aspects of each. Pretty simple, right? Well, history says otherwise. Holiday themed social media posts can be a tricky concept to hammer down. Take a look at how the Seattle Seahawks celebrated Martin Luther King Day:
This tweet is example (A) of how not to properly respect the meaning of the holiday. While you would expect a professional football team to only tweet about football, or football related items, taking a quote from the legendary civil rights leader and relating it to the struggle in football only minimizes the gravity of the holiday and the importance of Dr. King’s legacy.
Word of advice, make sure that if you celebrate a holiday on social media that you give it the respect has earned.
Take the High Road
When facing any sort of public negativity aimed at your brand, it’s best to just relax and respond in a respectful manner, or not respond at all. Even better, it’s best to directly message the commenter and discuss the disagreement offline and in a private manner – like a phone call or email exchange. When you engage an angry social media commenter with emotionally charged language, your patients and followers are going to watch your conversations in real time and judge you from there.
Just look at how the dating application Tinder took to Twitter to air their grievances with a Vanity Fair story regarding the applications impact on dating culture.
Instead of disagreeing with the article in a respectful way, Tinder goes on to attack the publication and the journalist. Tinder’s Twitter tirade made the application appear to be petty and combative, and did nothing to endear them to their users.
This situation could’ve been handled much more gracefully in private, or with a few tweets that respectfully disagree with the article. Remember to always avoid personal attacks, never belittle anyone and never get defensive in a public forum.
Check Your Jokes
Comedy is awesome, and we encourage that you incorporate tasteful humor is some of your social media posts. While comedy is one of the most shareable types of content, it is important that your jokes or funny content is tasteful and avoids controversy. Just look at the U.S. State Department who came up with a series of tweets that advised people on how to travel to other countries, all beneath the hashtag #springbreakingbadly.
The tweets were supposed to be funny bits of advice that positioned the U.S. State Department as the aloof 23 year old neighbor whose advice is “hip” and “edgy.” Instead of hitting that mark, the State Department came off as insulting and lewd.
What can we learn from the State Department’s gaffe? A couple of things. First, don’t insult anyone when you’re making a joke. It’s in poor taste and you run the very real risk of alienating and angering people that identify with that person or group. Second, stay away from abrasive or insulting language, which is subject to interpretation, regardless of your intent.