As you’ve dedicated yourself to creating a bang-up dental marketing strategy, chances are you’ve learned a lot about using social media. You’ve created your Facebook page, started a dental blog, and are gradually learning how to promote your practice on Twitter.

But is that all you need to pay attention to? In an answer: no.

The social media landscape is vast, and you’ll target a different readership on Facebook than you will on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Google+. So, before you limit yourself to just one or two, why not go off the beaten track a little? That’s right-it’s time to learn a few marketing basics from Reddit.

The Front Page

Reddit began as a simple Internet message board. Here’s the premise: A typical user posts a question or topic; then, subsequent readers vote in the affirmative (or negative) on that topic. While positive votes mean greater popularity for the post, negative ones make a bad topic tank in short order. In this way, Reddit users act as their own algorithm, pushing popular topics to the forefront of the Reddit feeds.

Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page” of the online universe, and its users aren’t shy about their opinions. For example, if you’re interested in doll collecting, there’s bound to be a subreddit page (basically, a subcategory) dedicated to the subject.

Unlike Facebook and similar platforms, Reddit works solely on democratic principle. If people love what you have to say, they’ll make sure your post gets “up-voted.” If not, they won’t hesitate to bury you. As to their reasons, here are the top Reddit no-nos:

  • Spam/obvious advertising tactics. Reddit users are educated and picky about what they read. They don’t take kindly to strong-arm sales tactics.
  • Useless or boring topics. Although there are subreddits on virtually any topic, Reddit users don’t reward uninteresting tripe. Picking the wrong subreddit link. Users who post content to an irrelevant or confusing subreddit aren’t likely to get any traction with Reddit users.

So-what do you think of when you imagine a “front page?” Unless you’re too young to remember hard-copy newspapers, you’ll probably see the front page of a newspaper in your mind’s eye. And, if you remember that the most important stuff goes on the front page, you have the general idea behind Reddit.

Just in case you’re wondering how this all applies to a dental practice-or to dentistry in general-keep reading.

Reddit and Your Marketing Strategy

To understand your potential customer (in this case, your dental patient), you need to know what matters to that customer. Sure, you can spend time asking questions on Facebook or sending out occasional tweets to take the pulse of your audience. But if you’re not getting a lot of responses, you might want to try the back-door approach.

Because Reddit offers users a lot of key information on a wide array of subjects, you’ll likely find topics that match your practice’s primary services. Let’s choose root canals as an example.

Say a potential patient goes to Reddit to read up on other people’s root canal experiences. The user asks a simple question: “I have to get a root canal. Can you tell me what to expect?” Then the patient waits for responses. If the need is urgent, the user skips the question altogether and searches other subreddits on dental procedures (root canals in particular).

So what does this mean to you as a dental professional?

Simple. Reddit is the perfect way to listen behind the virtual fence and find out what people really think of a particular dental procedure. Yes, there are plenty of dramatic stories, and yes, you’ll stumble on lots of misinformation out there. But this is useful to your marketing strategy. If every comment on root canals is negative, you can still learn something positive.

For example, when you’re crafting your next blog post or infographic, you’ll know firsthand what people are already saying on the subject. Sounds like a great opportunity for some dental myth-busting and a little technical clarification. You can also look at it as a chance to tap into your potential patients’ hopes and fears regarding dental care.

Learn About Local Trends

Reddit is also a great way to find out what people are talking about in your area. If you want to know more about your competitors’ practices, why not search for them here? After all, Reddit is a conglomerate of community life. You may want to start by joining the subreddit for your city (for example, r/Cincinnati or r/Denver) to see what other businesses are contributing to the subreddit. Or, read what general community members have on their minds.

As you learn more about Reddit, why not post a helpful article about the realities of oil pulling or the latest techniques in cosmetic dentistry? It’s a great way to start a conversation.

Finally, remember: as is the case for any social media platform, just begin where you are now. Take small steps, and before you know it, you’ll have your finger on the pulse of a prospective dental patient. And that’s a great way to strengthen any marketing strategy.