Consultant content

How to Engage and Communicate on Social Media During a Pandemic

Date Posted: 04.21.20 Speaker: Brenda Ashwell

Join Brenda Ashwell of PracticeGenius to learn how you can stay connected–even while social distancing. She’ll provide insights on what content you should be posting right now, techniques on how to handle updates, and suggestions for projects you can work on while your office is closed.

  • Create content that will Inspire, Educate, and Entertain
  • Connect with Instagram stories
  • Grow your followers using contests
  • Develop engaging videos
  • Level up with TikTok, Pinterest, and Twitter

Video length = 01:04:41

Brenda Ashwell
Brenda Ashwell of PracticeGenius

Brenda Ashwell: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our webinar. My name is Brenda Ashwell and I am the director of customer and product success here at PracticeGenius. PracticeGenius powers the patient reward tab, which is a membership engagement, and referral marketing platform. We’re rooted in behavioral economics and gamification, think contests, referral shares, social media and rewards. And we help customers like you align and engage with your patients throughout your entire buying journey. We have a fantastic integration with Cloud 9. In fact, many of you may have seen the hub button within the treatment chart. We’re super excited to be presenting this webinar with our great industry partners at Cloud 9. We share a lot of awesome clients, in fact, I see a lot of you on our call today. And at the root of both of our companies, is the desire to create software that makes your business better, and your lives easier.

Now, if you’re having any trouble at all with the audio, go ahead and dial in with the phone number on the webinar, idea bug. With millions of us on Zoom, we sometimes find the audio can be a little bit tricky. Now, I know we are all feeling the uncertainty that the COVID 19 pandemic has brought our businesses. But as marketers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and team leads, it’s important to recognize that this really is a unique opportunity and time for us to provide a steady hand and to engage with our online community in a way that you may never have done before. So, after discussions with social media industry experts, hours and hours of reading, and analyzing data points of the 1000s of businesses that we serve, we put together some ideas to help you navigate this landscape better. And share some ways that you can learn how you can stay connected, even while social distancing. And holy cow, we have a lot to cover in the next 60 minutes.

So I know that many of you on our call may have inherited a new set of wings. You may be finding yourself wearing social butterfly wings. So I know that, that it can be tricky, and it can be really overwhelming. One thing I really encourage you to do is go ahead and make sure you’ve got your phone out, you’ve got your Instagram page opened on your phone. Heck, go ahead and even open up your Facebook page in another browser window. It can sometimes I think be really helpful when we’re talking about our social channels to really look at them in the wild, in live environments. I do have a little confession to make. I have been spying on some of you, so I visited a ton of your Facebook pages yesterday and the day before in an effort of kind of guiding our content. So at the end of our call, I’m going to share a quick punch list of things that I saw while I was on your site. I mean, as if you don’t have enough projects to work on right now, right?

And I also will have a my calendar link to do a quick little audit on your social channels as well. A one on one audit. So, how do we eat this elephant? I think it’s imperative that we really start from the beginning. So when you’re writing a letter, the tone and context of the letter changes depending on who the intended audience is. So, in your Cloud 9 Software, you have the ability to send a letter to your patient that uses layman’s term, and then your referring doctor that uses clinical term. So, think of that idea and concept as you would when you communicate on your social channels. Building a persona is a great exercise, because it will help you find that tone and the voice of your message that translates through. Now what’s interesting, many of you are probably users on all of these channels. Right? So I’m not sure if there’s a social media channel I don’t use.

I use them though, all incredibly differently. So, for example, a couple of weeks ago, oh I woke up to an earthquake. I live in Park City, Utah, I just moved here, and I’m from Southern California, so I knew exactly what that feeling was. And I picked up my phone and the first place that I went on my phone was on Twitter, because I use Twitter as a means of finding out what is currently happening, what’s happening right now? I never would have gone to my Facebook page to see what magnitude of an earthquake that was. Now I highlight this as a way of really for you to recognize and think about your own social behavior, and how you use each of these platforms differently. We are processing a ton of information right now. And so it is imperative that we are not adding any noise to our followers. And mistakes that we make on our channels, they feel more egregious than they did pre COVID-19. And striking the correct tone in your visuals and captions is vital. Especially as a health care provider, you need to be clear, or your post feels inauthentic.

So, if you’re a power user of Instagram, you can see that in the example that I had here, love your pet, it’s impossible to do what this practice is asking us to do on this platform. So what they’re asking us to do, is post a picture in the comment section. Well, I can’t do that on Instagram, it’s literally impossible for me to do. That’s something that I can do on Facebook. So when you don’t use the correct tool for what you’re asking me to do, you’re adding noise and it’s frustrating. And it might seem silly, especially if you’re new to managing those, your channels. But, if you are asking me to do something, for example, post a picture of me wearing my Hawaiian T-shirt, but yet you haven’t allowed photos or posts to be added to your page, you’ve just added noise. So, make sure that you understand when you make a post, make sure you follow through and you can literally do what you’re asking your followers to do.

Now in a crisis situation, what is it that our followers want to know? That is exactly where you need to start with your communication, from their perspective first. And what I find is a lot of practices talk about themselves, they don’t put their user or their follower first. Why are they going to your page? So right now they’re going to your page because they literally have questions about their health care. They’re not sure if you’re open or not. Now this changes, depending on where in the heck that country you are. And, they’re also wanting to know, what do they do? “What do I do if I have an appointment?” And then as you start to open up your doors again, the thing that’s going to be top of mind for them is, “When I come in, how are you going to make the safe?”

So if you think about your user and your follower first, as events are unfolding, then it will help you have a clear message in the way that you’re communicating. A photo of a one page letter does not belong on your newsfeed, that is not the route for you to go. We all have a lot of information that we want to share. However, a picture of a letter is not what should go on your Facebook feed or your Instagram feed. Also, if you have to spread your fingers to zoom in on an image, it’s too small. Even when I have readers on, it’s way too small. Also, contrast needs to be really, really differentiated in your graphic. Otherwise, it’s really difficult to read.

So the two examples, the one in the middle is a photo of a picture of a letter that was written that is something that should go in an email or literally be mailed out. The picture on the right is not rendered correctly when they uploaded that, so I can’t literally read what it is that that post is trying to say and the contrast is too little. The far one on the left where it says important, I really like the way that they did this because it catches my attention. And I realized that I need to read what’s in the text of that Instagram post. So keep that in mind. Also, we want to start with our customer questions first and then we can move on to ourselves. At the beginning of COVID-19, where our inboxes were inundated, how all these companies were handling the crisis. And some of them had a possibility to us and others didn’t. But as your health care provider, again, you need to talk about, answer your customers questions first and then say why it is you’re doing what you’re doing.

Another thing that I think is really important for you to realize, is not every one of your followers knows what the AAO stands for. They don’t know what the CDA stands for, if you’re in California, the California Dental Association, they don’t… Most of them know what the ADA is because of toothpaste, right? TV commercials. So don’t assume that your followers know that the AAO is an acronym for the American Association of Orthodontists. Just again, I’m highlighting that as a way of keeping your customers at the forefront. Now, as some things are unfolding, make sure that in Facebook, you put your information that you want your customers to know first at the very top, and you can do that by pinning it to a page. I also recommend that you update this on a weekly basis. I know most of us have no idea when our businesses are going to open. But the protocol that you have for your patients to get in touch with you is the same.

However, maybe they didn’t visit you a couple of weeks ago, and you had that on your page. So update them weekly, maybe do a Monday update, or Tuesday, or Wednesday or whatever day of the week you want it. And then make sure that that information is at the very tip top of your newsfeed. The other thing is, when you are answering your customer’s questions, we want to make sure that we’re putting it in bite sized pieces. And video is being consumed at an incredibly great rate right now. In fact, YouTube had to deprecate some of their HD videos because they were running out of space, just the sheer amount of videos that are being uploaded, is pretty unprecedented. And videos help us to really empathize with our customers. And when we create these little videos, when you’re answering your customers questions first, they think to themselves “Wow, I was just thinking that.” And you instantly create some empathy with your followers.

So, one project you can start working on is to create little 32nd videos that answer the top questions that your customers are asking. Can I do a virtual appointment? Do I still have to make my payment even though you didn’t see me this month? That I love that one, right? Will my treatment go longer? So some of these are complicated answers, some of them are pretty straightforward. But, if you place yourself in your customer position and answer with empathy, right off the bat, then they will continue to feel like you’re understanding their point of view. Frequently asked questions is, again, not where you take a photo. I’ve seen a lot of follow 1000s of practices. And I’ve seen a lot of posts that the AAO just had at a page, I don’t know if it’s a PDF, or was something that was on the AAO website. But it’s a letter that talks about what you do if you have an orthodontic emergency. So I’ve seen a ton of practices take a picture of that letter and again upload it, not the format for that.

You want to break your information down into bite sized pieces. And so I really love how this practice took everything that’s on this letter here. But they ended up putting it in bite sized pieces of information. So when I scroll through, I know what I need to do, if I need more rubber bands, or what I need to do if I need more wax. Again, we might all be eating a whole size Snicker bar, but we feel better, and we can understand it if we’re eating that same thing in little bite sized, fun sized pieces of candy. So when you make your posts, think fun size, not king size. Now, the other thing that’s important when you create videos, it’s really important to recognize that 80% of us watch videos on silence. So you have to have text for some content. I was up until the wee hours of the morning last night, looking at your content, and if you had a video that didn’t have subtitles, I have no idea what you said. Because I was watching or I was on my phone, I was in bed, and I couldn’t hear the sound because I had to keep it quiet in the room.

So, a lot of us watch videos on silent and some of us that’s all… My phone is always on silent, I hardly ever have it on. So again, make sure that you’ve got captions, or subtitles. Now Facebook, they have the ability for you to do auto generated captions when you are doing Facebook Live videos. We use a quick little tool, so a tool that we used to create this little video here is a website, I want to show you this website real quick. It’s called And the thing I really like about this site is that, it allows you to create little videos. It’s really inexpensive, I think they even have a freemium version. We have no stake or anything in this company, I just really like how easy it is to use. They’ve got tons of templates and you can add GIFs and stickers. And so when you upload it, it feels really native to the environment that you’re uploading it to. So this was something that we quickly created, I was able to post it to our Facebook page. And again, it’s a really user friendly video tool, and it’s called

So that is again, something that we highly recommend that you use, and it gives you the ability to add those captions. Now when you are going Live, or creating a video, make sure that you’re really careful about your home environment. Now we’re all working from home, right? We all know what the inside of Anderson Cooper’s house looks like. And Jimmy Fallon’s basement, if you watch the special this weekend, you got to see Lady Gaga’s piano and Elton John’s backyard with a basketball and two basketballs randomly in the background. Right? So those are movie stars, and we expect them to live in a home that isn’t ours. We don’t live that same kind of lifestyle. But as a doctor in particular, be sensitive to what your environment looks like. Because your followers are going to judge you a little bit. Again, we’re all super super sensitive, and your norm, may not be your followers norm.

I watched a video a couple days ago of an orthodontist who was doing a Live from her children’s play room. And I kid you not the play room was probably bigger than my house. So that’s really normal for her, but it wouldn’t be normal to your followers. So that’s why I think close up work really good when you’re doing live. So I’m not saying don’t show your family, don’t show your kids, don’t show you out getting some exercise, I’m just saying be sensitive if you’re taking a picture inside your living room, and your living room maybe bigger than your follower apartment that they live in.

And make sure you’re leading by example, especially as healthcare providers, they expect you to be following the rule. And one of the things that’s interesting about when we make a post to social media, we’re expecting this to be Live, it’s just a normal thing for us to expect that what we see is happening right now. So, when you’re making posts, if it’s a post that you have of your team, pre social distance, say, Throwback Thursday, or pre social distance or missing times like these. Also show your team members answering emails or phones or… I’ve seen a lot of practices on Zoom calls, and those I think are fantastic, because it’s showing that you’re leading by example. Online engagement is up. It’s unprecedented how much content we’re consuming. Listen to your audience, because they are listening to you. TikTok’s on 18% increase in downloads last week. There was a 40%, in Instagram follower under the age of 35, it’s really important for us. And there was a 50% increase in Facebook use over the last two weeks. They’re pretty incredible numbers.

And what we’re seeing is organic reach is much better now than it was pre COVID-19. The average organic reach for all businesses was about, don’t kill me when I say this, but it was about six and a half percent. Wow, what a dismal number for the amount of work we placed on our social channels. And that’s organic, that’s without boosting or posting. But that number has increased 3X for organic reach. And you’ll be able to see that when you hop into your highlights. My daughter manages an Instagram account with close to a million followers, and they have seen an increase in their weekly interaction. They went from 4000 to 13,000 in just two weeks. So we’re consuming a lot of this information, but because our screen time is increasing, so is the standard of content. So, if you’re really looking to offer a solution, and to be a guiding hand, you got to lean into this, now is the time. Because social media has become the COVID-19 conversation channel.

I saw this last night, and I thought it was really interesting. You could go to the side of the bottom, and grab this. And what I think is really interesting about this is how they break this up into different segments of people. And if you were looking to see what people are doing online, knowing that they’re looking for recipe, well does that change your content? Knowing that they are looking for… There was one thing I saw on here discount. So searching for fashion trends for discount. So if we look at what we’re doing online, and we look at who we’re trying to communicate with, again, really changes our tone, and texture of what it is that we are showing them. Now, if you’re new to managing your social channel, the first thing you should do is build your persona, the second thing I think that you need to do is you need to look at your Insights.

Now, some of you may know what this is, and some of you may not. So in an effort of sharing a little bit with all of us, I want to share what this Insights looks like. So if you go to your Facebook page, you’ll notice that I’m logged in as an admin, you’ll notice that you have this button here called Insights. Click on that Insights and I want you to go to your posts. What this will do, is this will tell you what day of the week your followers tend to connect with you. What times of day they connect. But most importantly, I want you to look at what your engagement rate is. You can decipher this down and you can totally, oh my gosh you can geek out over this. These numbers can be really, really fun to look at. But what we’re looking at is our reach and our engagement. Now I’m not talking about any posts that you boost or anything like that necessarily.

And the reason why I want you to look at this is because when you see a big jump in something, that means that this is information your followers are interested in. So, view that, rinse it and repeat it. Now this is a little bit different and when we go to Instagram, so let me open up my Instagram page and I’ll show you what that looks like on our page. So, let me share my screen, I’m sharing my phone right now. And my phone is actually Live. So, I always have some trepidation when I do this, because any emails or any text messages I get will pop up. But we’re all friends here, so no one’s going to judge me. So here is my phone. If I want to look at my Instagram Insights, I go to my page. I click the little three buttons on the right and then here is my Insights.

Now the difference between Instagram Insights and Facebook Insights is Instagram only gives me a week at a time. But same information, I can see what’s happened, I can see my activity. Mondays are really big days for us. I can see my interactions, and I can see my followers. I can see our growth, I can see men, women, ages, gender, what days they follow. So this gives me again, some great information on how to use that tool. All right, so we’ve gone to our Business Insights, we’ve gone to our Facebook Insights and our Instagram Insights. Now, what do we do? Now the next step is to create what your plan is. So back in the day, we used to just kind of ad hoc what we would be putting on our posts, because organic reach is really high. But right now, we need to look at what our followers are wanting from us.

Now, if you have ever planned a party, think about maybe it was somebody’s 50th, birthday party. Now, if you had a theme around that party, maybe 50 and Nifty, or maybe it’s a birthday party for a six year old, and it’s a pretty pink princess birthday party. If you have a theme, it’s easier to plan around. So one thing that we’re seeing practices really strive at during this timeframe is to create a marketing plan for your content, but do it week by week. Not necessarily for the entire year, not even for the entire month, because too much is changing. The things that were important two weeks ago, are not applicable anymore. So I’m going to share an example of how we have helped our practices with this concept and idea of doing weekly social planning.

So, what we do here is every single week for our clients, we’re giving them what types of things they should be sending to their app for in-app messages. What contests through the hub, they should be starting, what surveys should be happening, and what content that they should be posting on their social channels. So without going into our product really deep, those are the ways that we’re seeing that practices are able to take the information that they’re wanting to share with their customers, look at social media in a way that maybe they haven’t before and break it down into these bite sized pieces of weekly marketing. Now when we talk about content, now really is the time to stop and ask yourself, what is the goal of this post? And the top three things that are resonating right now, are content that inspires, content that educates, or content that entertains. So those are the three things unanimously across all industries, that is resonating.

So if it’s outside of those, you might just be adding to the noise. So I put together again, some ideas that I thought you could use as you are looking at the content that you’re wanting to post onto your page. Here we go. All right, so keeping boredom at bay, virtual theme week, safety tips, spreading positivity, work in ideas, what’s open? Healthcare heroes, and play with us. Now, if you use the hub, you’ve got a lot of these already at your fingertips. If you don’t, there are lots of tools out there, there are a lot of blogs that you can use. And you can use lots of creative tools, such as Canva to create some of these on your own. We also have a myriad of free download graphics that you can use, and that are on our Facebook page. So just keep that in mind that after our call, if you’re not a client, feel free to go to our Facebook page and download some of the content that we’ve got on there.

Now, when you’re doing things like building or doing art activities, make sure that you can do again what we’re asking our customers to do. So if we’re saying hey, take a picture and upload it, make sure they can upload it. If you’ve got a link to a blog where they can create some coloring sheets, come full circle, download the sheet, make sure you can color and make sure they print right. Because the way that JPEG prints versus a PDF is completely different. So you have to go through if you’re doing things like art activities, make sure you’re going through the process as if you were going to be doing this as well.

Also, be careful if you are going or you’re putting a link that goes to YouTube. Or any channel that you don’t have control over YouTube Kids is great too, because they lock down some content that might be inappropriate that you don’t have control over. So if you post out to a YouTube, maybe it’s an instructional video on, I don’t know, how to create a 3D image of races. And the next video that comes up isn’t appropriate, you don’t have control over that. So just be really careful when you’re posting links that go outside of your control. This girl right here, her name’s Casey, this is her handle on Instagram. She is an art teacher, she’s got tons of fun ideas that resonate with your users. One of the things that people are finding is that memes are keeping us alive. We cannot get enough memes right now. So looking at what’s trending right now, like picture quarantine house, just started about a week and a half ago. So we’re watching all these trends, we’re creating things and so the idea is, hey, which of these houses would you like to live in?

Neighborhood bingo. This is great for you to maybe go around your neighborhood and see things that your users could spot and play bingo, have seen a lot of practices have bingo games on there. Two weeks ago, our main theme was a virtual theme week. And oh my gosh, it resonated so well with keeping boredom at bay. So this practice here, in two hours, so their first virtual theme day was share a picture of your pet and post a picture below. And in two hours, they had over 32 people comment. So, nother piece of homework, go to your Insights, see what is the highest comment that you’ve gotten on any post and rinse and repeat it. So do the same thing, put a spin on it, but that will tell you that, that’s information that’s resonating with your audience.

Safety Tips. So what do you do if you have a dental emergency? Right now, we at PracticeGenius are actually collaborating with Andrea Cook on some social media posts that officers can use as they’re staying compliant with recommendations. So we’re working with her on things that she is recommending officers do to make sure that they are providing a safe environment. And we want you to have access to those posts, so we’ll be posting a lot of these on our Facebook page as well. Because again, your users, I’m sorry, your customers are going to be curious about how you’re making them safe when they come in. And so you want to answer that question before they even have to ask it. You’ve already put their safety first you’re answering that question.

So look for our Facebook page and maybe the next week, you’ll see some posts that we’ve worked on with Andrea. I thought this was really fun, the other day I saw this practice that said what to do if you have an emergency. And their patient wrote, “What if I just miss you guys?” So people are bored, they are listening, they’re wanting more from you and they want to interact and play. Our theme this week is spreading positivity. And so we’re helping practices use that theme. Now use that theme whether you’re a client or you’re not, this was a great theme for this week. A lot of us have been in quarantine for a month now, it’s daunting, this is hard stuff. So, use your platform to try and put yourself in the shoes of your moms who are homeschooling, working from home, cooking and maybe thinking to yourself, what things are resonating with you? And what we’re finding is that now we’re needing things that are possible.

Work in’s, so we’ve all been talking about mental health and how to take care of ourselves through working out, but man it’s hard. I think I’m quarantine day 40 and maybe workouts three. When I’m not on quarantine I work out for days a week, and doing it inside is hard. So I have been really looking for ways to incorporate this into my daily life. There was a big trend a couple of weeks ago, that was, see 10 do 10. So we’ll see 10, do 10 Push ups, and then tag someone to do 10 push ups. So I thought that would be a fun thing for offices to do. I also really love this idea. I haven’t seen any practice, do it, and we’ve been doing webinars for over a month. So I’ve been touting this. So if you do this, please tag us, please tag PracticeGenius for patient rewards hub, because I’d love to see this in the wild.

But it’s spelling your name in a workout. So I think this would be really fun, especially if you are a doctor. Let’s say everybody calls you doctor T but maybe your name is Theodore. If you spelled your name in a workout. So each of the letters of your name is a different type of exercise, create a video, upload it and then have your followers do the same. This really could dovetail into I think a TikTok challenge as well. But again, I haven’t seen anyone do it in wild, so if you do it go ahead and tag us because I’d love to use your office as an example, in our next webinars. We’re getting very tired of our own cookies. And we’re really empathizing with small businesses right now. So the idea of being a community ambassador and doing what you can to help local businesses and local communities. Showcasing businesses and restaurants that are offering takeout, I think is a fantastic thing for you to do. There’s all kinds of ways that you can do contests and gamify that.

Another thing for you to think about is, there may be people that are new to your area and you’ve lived there for a long time. So you might know the perfect place to go watch the sunset, you might know the best place to see the sunrise. But maybe your followers don’t, so I mentioned earlier that I just moved to Park City, Utah. And aside from schemes, I don’t know a lot there is to do around here. Especially for us it’s mud seasons, so I can’t really go hiking or mountain biking yet. So I’m not sure what there is to do, so I follow this site, Park City guy, really in small there. But he gives ideas of things to do. So he made this post of where you could come, where you can see Elks coming and feeding. And it’s a little bit outside of the city of Park City and so, it gave me a little field trip, it gave me something to do in an area that I’m not as familiar with.

So again, I highlight this because you’re familiar with your areas. You know all kinds of really cool places that you can go. Now, again, obviously, you’ve got to be sensitive to whether this is something that falls in line with social distancing or doesn’t. And again, every state is different right now, so use your own judgment here. But the idea is leverage your knowledge of your city and do what you can to help support other businesses. Healthcare heroes, that was our theme to last week, and this resonated really well. So I’ve seen a lot of practices showcase how they have been donating gloves and masks and I think all that is fantastic. Today on my feed, I saw a practice where the doctor is an orthodontist, but he’s affiliated with the local hospital and he is going and helping with pass out lunch. I thought oh, wow, that’s fantastic, that’s exactly the stuff that we all want to see right now.

And playing with you remember, they’re bored. So, you had a patient that literally made a comment and kind of feed that said what to do with an orthodontic emergency and she said, she’s missing y’all. So have fun and do what you can to alleviate some of the pressure. We’ve got post, like how many hidden emojis can you find? So there’s a bunch of hidden emojis that are here in this little example here of a post. Don’t know what just happened. This practice, this is what’s coming up and it’s taking a minute here. What they did is they posted a picture of the doctor. And then the idea was to caption the post. And like I said, we follow a ton of practices and so we asked if we could play along. And they said, “Sure.” So we put our creative hats on, and we thought it was really fun to caption the post.

Then, staff members asked if they could play, the staff members played and this gave them some content to be able to put on other channels. They ended up with a winner. The winner was really a fun little news feed. But the idea was A this was inexpensive, it didn’t cost them anything. They just had capture it and patients did, they play. Now we know that TikTok is having a moment right now. I am not saying you have to be on TikTok. Now, this is pre social, this is pre COVID here. But this is a practice where they use TikTok a lot. The doctor is a fantastic doctor, they have a ton of fun, they’ve got fresh new content. And they use it as a way of really playing and connecting with their followers. It is how Gen Z is coping with COVID-19. They say that TikTok is basically inspired by memes. So it’s total meme culture, with video and it’s 100% user generated content.

If you haven’t downloaded TikTok, I encourage you to download it. Now, I didn’t say you have to make an account. I think it’s important, however, to understand what the interest is. Why people are flocking to this and how it can resonate. Now I’m going to be honest, it’s not my platform, I clearly am not Gen Z, and it falls outside of how I use social. My phone is always on silent and so because it’s all around video, and it’s all around music and sound, it’s just not my channel, but I do understand it. If you want to dip your toe into TikTok without creating an account for yourself, you can still do a TikTok challenge. This is how you would do it. You would ask your followers to post a TikTok video without braces teeth or smiling or whatever you want your theme to be. Now, if you have an account, they can tag your business, but if they don’t, if you don’t have an account, you can have them upload on your Facebook channel or tag you in their Instagram.

So you’re going to do a challenge, then, out of all the people that you get you maybe you’re going to repost the top three videos, and then the video with the most likes is a win. So that’s a simple TikTok challenge that if you want to dip your toe in this, this is one of the ways that you can do it. Again, I’m not saying you have to, I’m just saying download the platform so you understand at least what the phenomenon is about, so you can be a little bit on trend as well. My favorite tool in all social platforms are stories. Stories are a ephemeral content. Ephemeral content is content that’s fleeting, it’s how Snapchat became so popular. If you’ll remember Snapchat was the very first platform that had ephemeral content, it went away after 24 hours.

So as a user, specially a teenager, you have less trepidation in posting, or commenting on a story, because it’s going to go away. When you comment on a newsfeed, it’s there forever. So interesting, right? To think about. And if you’re a user, do you use story differently than you do a news feed? I do. I use stories all the time. Personally, I post probably twice a week on my stories. The last time I posted on my feed was February the 10th. So I use it because I like the fast quick, easy way of that content and it going away.

The other reason why I like stories is because stories is growing 15 times faster than newsfeed. There’s a lot of stuff that’s changing on our social platforms, Facebook in particular. So stories and groups are where they are running to. The other thing I really liked about stories is your story on your Facebook, and your story on Instagram can be the exact same. The content on your feed needs to be different. So the story can be the same, but the feed has to be different. Three to four photos is best for a story, anything outside that drops, your engagement drops. And I love engagement stickers. So engagement stickers are a way for you to communicate with your followers, this is a great way to ask what their frequently asked questions are. And I love that stickers engagement gives me an opportunity to create a one to one conversation.

So if you have a sticker and you say, “Hey, did you know?” And somebody writes back, yes. So this is an example, we said, “Did you know we’re hosting webinars?” If somebody wrote back and said, yes, I could direct message them and say, fantastic, I can’t wait to see you online. If they answered no, I could then give them the link in the DM to our webinars. So it gives me an opportunity to have a one to one conversation. One in five Instagram stories posted by a business elicit a direct message. That’s super interesting, I think. Now, if you have highlights, highlights are what are at the very top of your Instagram account. If you have these, make sure that the very first one you have right now showing, is about either virtual consults or your new office hours or what to do, or frequently asked questions. So those are all the things that your followers are looking to you for.

On our highlights, we use them as an opportunity of evoking either new opportunities for existing customers or new customers. So a couple of days ago, we had someone that was asking about the platform that we have to award rewards and recognition for T using HubBuck. And so they were curious how this worked and they found out that we used this, or that this is something that we offer by going to our highlights. So the way that highlights works, so the question is asked, how do you get the first picture on your highlights? There’s a whole way that you can do this. So at the very end, I’m going to share my email address. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to go into detail on that, but if you email me, I can share how you can get this on your highlights, and we can even go online and walk through it together.

I knew I was going to run out of time, I got so much to share. Contests, so contests are a great way for you to grow your follower. 70% of Instagram users have played a contest. I’m going to share two quick examples of how you can have a contest on your Instagram page. So this first one is incredibly simple, you’ll see how simple both of these are. And what I would do here is I would create a hero contest. The prize would support a local business, the prize would not have anything to do with teeth, Invisalign, a discount on braces whitener, it would not have anything to do with me. It would have everything to do with another small business that I am community partners with. That would be the price. Then how do you play this? Real simple. You tag two of your heroes or two friends. You like my account and the business that I’m giving the prize away from. That’s it. Well, that’s too simple, right?

Well, that’s how you can use contest to grow your followers, because I’m going to tag two of my friends that I want to have these cool kick, this rad bag and this fun little pouch. My friends are the same kind of people that you want as your customers. Because I resonate with you, whatever you’re offering I’m buying, my friends are the same. So when I tagged them, they will see the posts that they’re tagged in, they will like your account, and then hopefully, that presents some more opportunities for you to cultivate this online relationship that you’ve had. So that’s one example, as a way of really highlighting small businesses. Example two, virtual scavenger hunt. So every single time I talked about social media, I always use this example, I think it’s brilliant. This practice takes this bear around the city, they’ve been doing it for years.

They take a picture, and then you have to guess where this picture is. Now, the first person to guess, and their case, gets hub points. So they get points on their patient rewards Hub account, super fun, lots of interaction. You don’t have the hub, you can still do this. What you would do is you would take the bear or not take the bear, you would go to local businesses, take a picture in front, ask where you’re at, and then maybe whoever answers correctly gets put into a raffle for a gift card for that local business. Or dinner from that company. Anything that you can do, I think right now to support local is the way to go. At the end, the next day, you can continue to use this content, you could at mention that business and highlight the winner. So it’s a two for one, so you get two posts in one.

We’ve got tons of contests and what we’re finding is that patients are really looking to play with you online. Now, one of the other things that I think is interesting is that Pinterest shopping activity is up 44% year over year. So pinners tear into that platform for ideas and inspiration and they come with a very clear goal in mind. However, Pinterest can really be easily overlooked. It’s growing faster than Twitter and Snapchat both. So just like TikTok, if you’re not using Pinterest, you might take a peek at why this could be advantageous for you. If you had a Pinterest account, have a Pinterest account, make sure that you go and visit it. Because what I find is a lot of practices, set it and forget it and that’s not how Pinterest works. Especially right now, oh my gosh, we are flocking to Pinterest, because Pinterest has tons of do it yourself projects. Right? Your honey do list probably skyrocketed with all the things that now you have time to do around the house. That’s why Lowe’s and Home Depot their stock has not gone down.

So where do you go to find inspiration? You go to Pinterest. Pinterest has tons of recipes. So tap into this. Brace-friendly pantry recipes, working out with the family. So this business though collective is a locally owned fitness group. Two women owned it here in Park City and every single day they post a new fitness routine on their Pinterest board. You ask Brenda, why is it so hard to work out? Well, I guess I’m just lazy. They have this as an idea, so if you were a business in Park City, I would be repinning every single one of their things onto my page. The reason why is because A, it’s content that my users are looking for. My patients want this information and two, it introduces me to this business. I can there then share those ideas and I can use that content that they’ve provided. It opens up conversations between us, two businesses as being able to support each other locally.

All right. We get it. We got to the end and we’re at our punch list. So like I said, I spied on you guys. And so I’m going to go through very quickly some of the things that I noticed. Now, am I calling anyone out. At this very end of this, I’m going to give you my calendar link. If you’d like for me to hop online with you and give me some recommendations for your practice, we’d be happy to do that. So your social channels to be displayed on your websites. So I would go to your website, and I would try to find if you had an Instagram account or not. And what I found was, I know some of you have an Instagram account, but you didn’t have on your website. I also clicked a number of icons that had missing links. So some of you had a Facebook icon, and I clicked it and it didn’t take me to the correct page.

The other thing that I found is that, some of you put your toe and Instagram and then decided, ah, you’re not sure if this is going to be it. So if you’ve only got one or two photos on your Instagram account, now, right now, decide to commit or ditch it. Because, you spend so much time with your brand, your reputation, and having something that’s five years old, doesn’t live up to who you currently are. I was looking for an oral surgeon, and I was recommended two oral surgeons. I went to their Facebook pages, one of them had not updated their page since 2015. Do you think I went to them? Nope, I didn’t, I didn’t even continue looking at what their credentials were. Because, if they’re not committed to their online reputation, I had trepidation in whether or not they would be committed to what my whole treatment look like.

It’s in the details, it’s the nuances, it’s the millimeter. So decide commit or drop it. Plan out your content and stick to a schedule. Look at it one week at a time, so there were a lot of practices I went to, and the last post that they showed was their office was closing. Before that it was the doctor in the kid that was getting his braces off. And the next picture and the next picture, and the next picture. And then maybe it was a staff lunch, but there was no continuity, and there was no concept of the user, only the practice. Make sure you know how your graphics render on mobile and desktop.

The other thing is get to the point. Short and sweet is more clear. 14 words is what you should be shooting for in your captions on your newsfeed. Some of you will write a paragraph in explaining that it’s Susan 15 year anniversary and that she’s so amazing. And that she’s got 40 Kids and 14 cats and I’ve completely lost interest, but 14 words in all, the image to do the heavy lifting. All right, hashtags are for Instagram only, they do not belong on Facebook. I know, you can see them. However, users don’t use them in the same manner. Just to hashtags for your Instagram account. Links do not work on an Instagram feed. When you have a link in your Instagram feed, I can’t click it. I can only click a link in your business profile.

Don’t put a long link in your feed. Now it’s different on Facebook, on Instagram, it doesn’t work in the feed. Change out your cover photos. So, I see a lot of pictures like this. Your logo, it doesn’t evoke emotion, this is the biggest piece of real estate you have on your Facebook page. So does this evoke emotion or does this? Right? Totally different experience. So, look on your Facebook page and see does your cover photo, the biggest piece of real estate you have is it evoking the emotion that you’re wanting? And change it that often. If you follow PracticeGenius you know that we change our Facebook cover photo out probably every couple of, about every four weeks is what we shoot for. Holy cow, we’ve got a lot of work that needs to be done right? But, I know that you are going to weather the storm. So this is how I think you can do it. Look at that times list, what I just put up there. Give it yourself an audit, take some time, hop on with me and let’s go through and quickly audit some fast things you can do to update your site, your channel.

Create personas for your social media. Create your plan, your weekly plan and have clarity. Use things like Wave video to create short 30 Seconds or less videos. Make sure that when you put information up, it’s in bite sized pieces, we can have lots of fun sized pieces, but nobody wants that whole king sized Snicker bar. There should be no social distance between you and your new best friend, which is Insights. That’s going to tell you what to rinse and repeat. Use resources that you already have, make sure that you’re logging into all of the webinars that Cloud 9 is offering. There’s a fantastic lineup of people that really know how to help your business grow, even in this environment. And make sure that the content you’re posting inspires, educates or entertains.

So, thank you so much for spending some time with me today. I really hope that you got some good plan, a good plan for how you can put this all into action. My calendar link is at the bottom here. There’s no obligation here, this really is something that we are offering to help in this time, to give you some advice on ways that you really can connect with your online community. And some of that starts with doing a little bit of cleanup on your existing social channels. Thanks again for hopping on with us. I hope you stay happy and I hope you stay connected. Feel free like I said to email me any questions that you have, schedule with me and hopefully I’ll see y’all online again soon. Bye.

Brenda Ashwell
About the Speaker Brenda Ashwell

Brenda Ashwell is the Customer & Product Success Lead of Practice Genius. Brenda’s been in the orthodontic and dental field for the last 25 years. She enjoys working with fantastic patients, doctors and teams. She can be reached at