Pinpoint Your Practice

PrintIt’s not your little sister’s Pinterest.
This is serious business.

If you feel like your Facebook account isn’t delivering the bang for the buck it once did, you could be on to something. As baseball great Yogi Berra once said about a popular nightspot, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Facebook has been great, even if you weren’t an early adopter. By just about every measure, Facebook is still relevant. But somewhere along the way Facebook did the inevitable—it grew up. Today with so much corporate involvement and so much advertising, it can be hard for a small business (like an orthodontic practice) to stand out in any meaningful way. The key to getting maximum bang for your buck in social media is to think along the lines of the Yogi Berra quote; you need to get in before everyone shows up. This is just one of the reasons why you might want to consider putting some of your social marketing efforts towards Pinterest.

Long thought of as the little sister of social media, many people dismissed Pinterest as a glorified scrapbooking site. While we’ve been focusing our social media efforts elsewhere, Pinterest has been quietly chugging away in the background, refining its platform. Today you’ll still find lots of craft ideas. But look a little closer and you’ll also find a social media platform that isn’t yet saturated with advertising, meaning you can still make a splash and actually stand out. Let’s start with the obligatory facts to pique your curiosity:

  • 70 million people use Pinterest.
  • 39% of active users on Pinterest will use it to search before they go to Google.
  • 97% annual growth, making it the fastest growing social media channel of 2015.
  • 50% of Pinterest users make $50K.
  • 41% of Pinterest users have a household income over $100K.

The fact that over one third of Pinterest users, and there’s over seventy million of them and growing, will search Pinterest before going to Google should grab your attention. That’s indicative of a platform that’s not only earned the trust of their core users, but one that can also deliver relevant results. But there’s also a more fundamental reason for looking at Pinterest.

Why Pinterest is Perfect for Ortho
Unlike many of the social media applications that focus on the here and now, Pinterest is focused on what could be. Pinterest is a wish list, told in a visual format. People don’t typically post and pin items about who they are so much as who they want to be. It’s a naturally aspirational structure that’s perfect for marketing an aspirational product such as orthodontics.

So what’s next? It’s a safe bet that many don’t yet have a Pinterest account for their practice. This is actually a good sign, since we’re looking for a way to stand out in social media. Once your practice is signed up, it’s worthwhile to spend an hour or so poking around the site. What you’ll find is that like all social media, it’s about attention, and showing interest in others is the best way to get them to do the same. Think of it this way, the point of Pinterest, from a marketer’s standpoint, is to get content re-pinned (the Pinterest version of sharing). When you get the re-pins, you’ll get the eyeballs. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

Right after you sign up, Pinterest makes it easy to find and follow all of the friends you’ve developed from other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and many of the email programs. Just go to your profile tab in the upper right corner, mouse over the tab and click on the Find Friends link. Then follow the directions. Since you’re already connected to anyone it finds, they’ll likely follow you. It’s a fast way to build your following without a big learning curve.

Pin_Image2Start Pinning
The next step is to start on the content. Here’s a few ideas to help you make the most of your content. This may seem counterintuitive, but skip the whole hashtag idea. Instead concentrate on working in a few good keywords in your content. What makes good content? Remember, you’re not looking for topics and images that are important to you per se. You’re looking for that overlap between your potential clients and your practice. But don’t be afraid to push out into a few areas that might not be so obvious. This can be a great way to differentiate your practice and pique someone’s curiosity. An orthodontic practice that follows “Gossip Girl” and “Vegetarian Living” magazine might get parents thinking ‘these guys might be right for my daughter’.

As always, brevity is the best rule of thumb. Although Pinterest allows you up to 500 characters in your comments, several studies have shown that you want to aim for between 200 and 300. Don’t try and game it, as Pinterest’s algorithms can determine the difference between a legitimate post and keyword-bombing.

Speaking of keywords, you can use the autocorrect of Pinterest to help you decide what keywords you should use in your description. Start with the most broad definition term and then get more specific. You can go several words deep in the search bar, offering you some great insight into what people are searching for, and how you can make your pins, titles and descriptions. For example, start with the word “braces” and see what words the site’s autocorrect suggests. Then you can add a second word, like “braces” and “clear”. This little trick will work anywhere there’s an autocorrect function and will add a great deal of specificity to your efforts.

It’s always tempting to try and fit in when you’re new on the scene. Resist the urge. Don’t use slang you’re not familiar with or try and look cool. Present yourself as you are and let your interesting topics, proper verbiage and erudite background allow you to stand out for all the right reasons.

Assistants with Pinterest
So let’s say that all of this sounds great, but you don’t have the time or the technical acumen to dig in and make a Pinterest profile you can feel good about (i.e. starts generating traffic and referrals). Then consider putting some tech to work for you. Pinstamatic.com lets you create professional looking posts with your own content. Even the marginally web-savvy posters can crank out a post in under 30 seconds. It’s a good way to build a respectable profile in short order. It’s also free.

Once you’ve got a Pinterest account up and running, are using Pinstamatic to help you generate content, and you want to see the analytics of what you’ve got going on, Pinterest has an easy to understand analytics page. If you want something a little more robust, Tailwind is a decent starting point. The free version is somewhat limited, but still gives you a good snapshot.

Remember, your Facebook account is still relevant. But if you’re looking for a way to stay ahead of the curve, Pinterest is your platform.

Finally, if there’s just one thought you take from this, remember that every good conversation starts with listening. No matter what social media platform you’re working with, the people you’re trying to reach will always tell you what matters and what motivates them. The key, as always, is listening.

This article was published in OrthoWorld Spring Issue 2015
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