Local Search and Social Media ARE Replacing the Phonebook!

Your patients are not looking for you in the phone book any more! Well, some of them are: ONLY 14% of people are using the “Yellow Pages” to find a dentist.
Think about it………when’s the last time you picked up one of those massive books? 
More and more potential NEW PATIENTS are finding dentists by using LOCAL SEARCHES on the internet search engines.  


We will all admit  , that word-of-mouth referrals from happy patients, are the best referrals that we can receive. Referrals from happy patients are so valuable because it’s basically a testimonial of your good work, and more importantly, how the person was treated82% of people consider reviews extremely valuable in a referral to a dental practice!  And over 50% of adults reference a review site once a month.
What I will be writing about here and in futureposts, are answers to questions like:
  • HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA and BEING LISTED ON TOP OF LOCAL SEARCH bring me more new patients? 
  • What is LOCAL SEARCH and why are so many people talking about it? 
  • How much is it going to cost me to keep up with this search stuff and how much of my time is it going to take?
Getting back to the word-of-mouth referrals again; if we all agree that this (W.O.M.) is the best referral, what if your happy patient had a radio show personality (let’s call him MIKE) with 5,000 listeners?  And MIKE had the respect and admiration of his 5,000 listeners.  I think you know where I’m going with this….
“WOW” Mike with your care and he blabs it out to his 5,000 listeners (ALL in ONE FELL SWOOP) This is the power of social media, it’s like everybody has their own radio stations with listeners!
MIKE has given you the golden testimony and you are a celebrity to his listeners.  It’s called “SOCIAL PROOF“; and I know it works, because I used to treat two news anchors in my Houston practice (that I no longer practice in since moving to North Texas).  Those two news anchors “referred” MANY people to my practice.
SOCIAL MEDIA (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and many others) and review sites (ie: www.InsiderPages.com, www.SuperPages.com, www.Yelp.com  and

www.HealthGrades.com) are sites full of radio personalities like MIKE!  When Mike talks, his listeners listen: sometimes his listeners call in and share there opinions to all the other  listeners.   25% of the conversations in social media communities are referencing a product or a service.


Some “MIKE’S” have more listeners that others.  This is why customer service is so vitally important in your practice!   Social media helps to strengthen the relationships with your patients, therefor strengthening your WORD OF MOUTH.  Social Media and review sites are word-of- mouth on steroids.

We live in a NEW ECONOMY, a new ERA so to speak, where communities are formed all over the internet and instead of “One To One” marketing (Don Peppers and Martha Rogers; great book by the way), it’s the ONE TO MANY marketing.  And it’s happening right now as we speak, whether you like it or not.  Get this… there are many businesses with bad reviews online and being talked about in social media and they don’t even know about it!   That’s scary.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably somewhat familiar with other media in which to market your practice. I’m a firm believer in multi-media marketing; targeted direct mail, newsletters, birthday cards, email campaigns, radio and TV and other media that when done tastefully and with targeted direct response, can get really favorable results, but it IS EXPENSIVE. Dan Kennedy (THE master marketer) states “diversity in your marketing, leads to stability”.  Don’t get stuck in just one media. 

Everything that was mentioned above was for the purpose of making this other, VERY IMPORTANT point:  There are great benefits to using social media to deepen your relationships with those that are already your patients, and possibly attracting NEW PATIENTS because of the strengthened word of mouth, but there is a much bigger benefit to all of the things mentioned above… And that is:  getting ranked higher up in the search engines because of all the “citations”.

In a previous post, I referred to “citations” (is a reference to a published or unpublished source) as one of the things Google looks for in ranking its’ listings for a particular catagory (niche).  These conversations on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube about your practice, the reviews on Yelp, Citysearch, InsiderPages, etc.) all contribute to pleasing Google (relevance), and therefore rewarding you with a FIRST PAGE LISTING!

Google, Yahoo and Bing are the three major search engines where local searches are They are searching for you on the 3 major search engines;! 
So with major newspapers going out of business and magazine subscriptions on the decline and only 14% of people going to the yellow pages to find you, how are people finding a dentist?  Many are going online and searching for a dentist in their area, WELCOME TO GOOGLE PLACES (previously GOOGLE MAPS).
How do people find your business in today’s economy with smart mobile phones and the internet giving people immediate access to information on products and services? Consider these statistics:
  • 97% of consumers use online media to research products and services in their local area.
  • 86% of U.S. households now use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally.
  • 85% of local searchers will follow up with a phone call or visit to the listing that stands out the best.

You might be thinking… well, I don’t have time for all this social media stuff. The fact is, that local referral and reference sites can be set up in literally minutes and a successful social media campaign can be run in as little as 10-15 minutes per day. 

Something else to consider is the cost of advertising a business with traditional advertising costs. The average dentist spends $30,000 per year in traditional advertising.   Successful social media campaigns can be run with as little at $300-$500 per year.

Dr. Scott

Dr. Scott F. Peterson is a practicing “wet-fingered”  dentist in North Texas and has been caring for patients since graduating from University of Texas Health Science Center Dental Branch in the world famous “Texas Medical Center”.  Dr. Peterson is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for marketing, the internet and networking.  He’s been online since the days of Prodigy and Compuserve (over 20 years) and has been involved with 3 start-up companies in the infomercial marketing (direct response) business and the music marketing management / services business.  When Dr. Peterson is not treating patients in his current location at The Dental & Implant Suite in Hurst, Texas, he’s creatively designing and implementing new marketing strategies and services for other local dentists.  Live passionately and reap the rewards!