We had a brief but interesting discussion in one of my sessions at the Hinman meeting regarding Social Media and Dental Offices. Several dental offices reported success using Facebook to grow an online community. They all posted once or twice a week and posted personal informational items; like recipes, personal anecdotes or simple dental health tips.
None of the offices reported success with direct selling messages. For example a message telling the community that Sally the hygienist went back east to visit her family was more accepted than a message that directly promoted whitening.
However according to the Mashable article linked here customers (in our case patients) who follow a business on Facebook have come to expect occasional specials or coupons.
The best option may be to do a bit of both. I believe that people do want to connect with the folks in the office on a personal basis, to feel part of the family. As such we don’t try a “hard sell” on family and friends. That approach is sure to create resentment. However we do let friends and family know when we find a good deal and we do give them special gifts that aren’t offered to strangers.
However, it’s no longer enough to simply interact. Consumers are increasingly hungry for promotions, exclusive discounts and giveaways. In fact, recent data suggests that most people who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter both expect and want to receive coupons from these brands.