Jameson Files Episode 129 – Dr. Todd Christy Discusses Social Media Success
Below, we’ve put together a compilation of some of the key points discussed in Episode 129. To enjoy the full conversation between our very own Carrie Webber and Dr. Todd Christy, you can watch on YouTube or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify.
Introducing Dr. Todd Christy—Social Media Champion
You know, I have followed your journey and you have been such a fun presence on social media for your dental practices over the years. So I appreciate the chance to pick your brain because we at Jameson do a lot in the marketing realm as you know, and we’re firm believers in making the most of the channels and resources that we have available to us in our businesses, dental practices not excluded. But first I would love to have you share with our audience a little of your dental journey and how you started into industry and how you got where you are today in your practicing life?
Dr. Todd Christy:
Well, I know it’s surprising for me, graduating 25 years ago from University of Detroit and moving out to a small town. I grew up in a big city outside of Detroit and moved down to this small town with two stop lights, got my dental license on a Tuesday, bought the practice on a Friday, and got married two weeks later. So it was always busy. But through the 25 years, acquiring four other practices, merging them into our original—the office I’m sitting in now, which is our main operatory facility here in Berrien Springs.
And then, seven years ago this September, my partner Eric and I bought another practice. Then he wanted to sell the building. And so we bought one in town and now have two locations. Recently we merged again and brought another dentist in, so we now have three dentists within the Berrien Dental ranks.
And it’s fabulous to work in a group practice. I never thought I’d get into that, but it really is great to have those assets and other team members. So each of us in a group practice has their own kind of specialty areas that we cover. And for me, I have been honed in on social media and team training, which I learned a lot from working with you and the team there at Jameson. The social media is something that I really enjoy and am always trying to do better.
You know, when I look at your social media channels and your content that you post, you have this great combination that I love. It’s a combination of education and of fun that I believe represents your personality and, more than likely, your practice personality. When you really started getting serious about your social media as an arm of communication for outreach to your community, what were (and what continue to be) your primary goals of what you hope to accomplish through your efforts?
Dr. Christy’s Primary Social Media Goals
Personality and Brand
Dr. Todd Christy:
Well, I think you’re right. We try to have a blend of not only the clinical side, but also really connecting with our patients. I’ve learned over the last few years the importance of looking at what the culture is of our practice. Actually, in the last few weeks we hired new team members. And I said, “Please go stalk us on Facebook or Instagram, or look at the website, because I want you to understand what the culture is here at our office.” Anyway, when we went too far with clinical stuff, it got a little bit too boring. because one thing about social media that I’ve learned is, it’s social, and people want to be able to respond to something.
And even now after 10 plus years that we’ve been on, before I post anything and hit send, I always just read it to somebody else to make sure it sounds right, so it’s still on brand. Even though my name’s on the sign, I still want to make sure we’re sticking to what our core is and what our culture is. And that’s a big thing for me as to what I focus on.
But I’ve never looked at social media as a way to generate new patients. It’s a way to keep our existing patients. And they remember it. We had a huge post last week. We just started celebrating the “workiversary” for our team members. So on one of the members’ 19th anniversary, we posted it. And she texted me about how great it felt to see the notes that people posted about her. And we were so excited for Judy, after 19 years and she’s still here. And we have others that are coming up. I know we have one of our hygienists who will have a 25th anniversary in July. And so we’re a family, and it goes back to our culture—walking in each day with a positive attitude and then sharing that with everybody else out there. That’s what we try to do, and I say, it’s fun. It’s culture. It’s a good thing on social media.
When I started this years ago, I was pulling stuff off of Pinterest, doing basic posts, not getting responses. For me, I want to get the responses. I want to engage with people.
We know that out of everything we post on Instagram or Facebook, 6% to 12% might be seen by all those people who like us on our page. That’s it. And so I wanted to make sure that they’re going to like it. I love it if they share it. And more importantly, I love it when they comment, because then they’re maybe going to get comments from their comment, and then they’re going to see us more, and their friends might see it too. And so I really want things that people can interact with and be social with.
For our posts, I want pictures of our team, pictures of our patients. So it connects with people. I want to make sure we’ve got those, because those are where people click and they’re like, “Oh look, my friend is in it.” Or they like it and share it. That’s where real engagement comes from. It’s not from a stock.
For instance, I used to do a quote about the word smile on Mondays. And I went two years and never had a repost. I don’t want to repost the same thing, you know? I want custom. And then we started having some fun with it. We used another outside source for getting content ideas that’s within the dental industry. And so we used their material, but we made it personal. I don’t want to take someone else’s stock and just post stock. People don’t engage with it. They look at it. They might share it, they might laugh, but they don’t engage. I want engagement.
How Dr. Christy Makes Social Media Successful
I love that. And I love that you say, you know, wanting to make sure that it’s still “on brand.” I couldn’t agree with you more in terms of the social media arm of any practice or any business’s efforts really has to bring those values, the personality, the DNA that makes you special, to life. I always like to say that it’s like giving everyone a peek behind the curtain of what it’s like to be with you and to connect with you. So I love that piece. What do you do in terms of, are you really the only one that’s creating all that content? Do you work together as a team? How do you come up with fresh ideas in an ongoing way?
Dr. Todd Christy:
Well, I’ll tell you what I learned in the beginning was: don’t do it yourself. Find a team.
Between our two offices our team right now is at 23 of us—so I have a social media team within the practice, and there’s five of us, including myself. When there were 14 of us total, it was manageable to have everyone in on planning, coming up with ideas. But 23 people is not as manageable, and that’s why having that small group really works. First you have your small group meeting and do the planning and then you can let the entire team know what’s going on, so everyone knows why you’re doing it. And then you get the buy-in.
Of course, everyone is pressed into service at some point in some manner. Last week we had a post, because obviously I’m a child of the seventies and eighties and Star Wars Day is on May the 4th, and we had a new assistant who joined us. Guess what? She’s holding a lightsaber in a duel battle on May the 4th. Yeah, it was her first day in the office and on the team and everyone said, “Just do it. You’re going to have fun.” You know, it really is about having fun.
We do a lot of our planning as a small team at the beginning of the month, deciding who’s going to do what. And then I can hand off some of the ideas we come up with and don’t have to do it all. But it’s really great to get together and brainstorm and come up with new ideas.
For example, one of our new hygienists last year had a great idea that we’re going to be working on this month. It’s a film, and the film idea was a terrific one on flossing. The hygienists kind of split up into teams one day at a team meeting, and I said, “Here’s what I want. Give me what you got.” And we had three different teams of hygienist’s giving me ideas on how to teach flossing in a fun way.
So bring it up in a team meeting so the whole team knows why you’re doing it. And then see who else wants to jump in. Sometimes nobody volunteers. And that’s fine. There’s a number of people on our team who I “voluntold.” I learned that from the Michigan battle—voluntold—which is when you say, “Here’s what you’re going to do, and if you can do it with a smile, I’m a whole lot happier.
Yeah. And you know, Dr. Christy, you’re unique in the fact that you are the champion of your social media efforts for your practice. But for a lot of practices, there’s a team member that loves social media. There’s somebody on your team that more than likely could do this and do it very well. It doesn’t have to be the doctor, if you don’t want to be that person. It doesn’t have to be the office manager. It could be your clinic, one of your clinical assistants. It could be someone on the team that already in their personal lives loves social media and knows the ins and outs of the tool.
And, you know, I love that you said you “voluntold” people, because having other team members play a role in a creative new responsibility can add flavor to the usual customary routine of the day that they could really enjoy.
Dr. Christy, I know that you do a great deal with the Michigan Dental Association. You volunteer with them, you present for them, you’ve done quite a few presentations for them in the past one or two years, and you actually presented on social media for them. I’m curious, when you are in conversations with your fellow MDA members, what are you recommending to them as the first steps to take?
Dr. Todd Christy:
The one thing that I will always recommend is creating a monthly calendar and picking out days of the week. Don’t try and do 7-14 posts a week. You’re going to get overwhelmed. You get stressed out and just quit.
If you start out saying, “I’m going to do it seven days a week,” by the third day you quit. You need to start with saying, “I’m going to do it three days a week.” That’s going to be three more days than you normally would every week. And so maybe you say, we’re going to choose Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Sometimes we visit other practices’ accounts, and we see a post that they posted four months ago, the previous one six months ago, what does that say? But if you can be consistent with a calendar—say Monday, Wednesday, Friday—that’s when you get ahead. And the advantage with Facebook is you can schedule those posts ahead. So calendar first, and then figure out the roles of who’s going to do what.
Just take your time. You know, it takes time to build everything up and I think small steps is all it takes. Take that one step and celebrate it. Celebrate your first comment. That’s a big thing
More Tips and Resources
And there’s a lot of resources that are out there. I know you folks at Jameson have helped us with that. And there’s other sources as well, but decide what you can do and then be consistent.
It’s a learning process. Look at other pages, a lot of other pages. I love looking at pages in my own area because it makes me feel good—but it also makes me say, “All right, they’re looking at us. We got to bring our game up another notch and keep going.”
One thing I didn’t mention is when you get comments, like them or comment back.
There’s so many things you can try. We’ve had giveaways. And that can get a lot of likes. Do something with those. We have one team member who is assigned to go through and send people requests to like our page just based on them liking a post. You get more out of your page that way.
And once you learn the ropes and have started making it a part of your rhythm and routine, it doesn’t feel like this overwhelming mountain to start climbing. It just becomes a part of your day-to-day processes. And I believe that’s why you’ve done so well in using it as a tool for your practice—you embraced it, you started learning more about it, but in the end, it’s just a part of who you are and what you do. Just like every other system and process in your practice, it has earned its place on the priority list. And it shows.
So, to everybody that’s listening, go find Dr. Christy and Berrien Dental on Facebook and check out all the fun they’re having with this tool and how their patients and community are engaging with them. They make it look easy. I know it isn’t always that easy, Dr. Christy, but you certainly make it look that way.
Thanks for joining me today….
I wish you all the best. Be well. We’ll see you next time. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Jameson podcast. Visit us online at jmsn.com. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify. Do you have questions or topics you’d like for us to answer or cover on the next podcast? Email us at [email protected].