Social media is the buzz word in marketing. You can be watching TV, eating in a restaurant, or on your computer and you will see or hear some mention of a social networking site. It may be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, or another of the many social networks.Whether you are on the social networks or not, you’ve even come to recognize their logos. Social media has become a way of life and a powerful marketing avenue for businesses.But as powerful a source as social media presents, there are some business owners who still aren’t utilizing this incredible opportunity to grow their business sighting one or more of these 4 myths:Myth #1: It’s Just A FadSocial media is still in its infant stages, however, it’s already proven its value and is definitely here to stay! Facebook has over 400 million active viewers who spend over 500 million minutes per day on Facebook alone.Traditional advertising, newspaper ads, telephone ads, and direct mailers are static in nature. They are usually advertisements about your services. Once the printed piece is presented there is no opportunity for connecting with and engaging the viewer and answering their concerns.Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs allow you to connect and engage your viewers with one on one conversation or group conversations.What does this mean for you: More potential new patients and more treatment acceptance.Do you know anyone who likes…really likes…going to the dentists? I don’t and I’ve been in it for almost 30 years. But one of the most amazing facets of social media is the ability to become real, not just an advertisement or a picture in a telephone ad…you become real!Your viewers get to see their dentist as a real person, your personality, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, even your ups and your downs… you’re real…you’re human. You also have become their “go to” person in your field of expertise.Viewers are reading your posts, learning more about dentistry, finding out why they should visit a dentist and have their treatment done, seeing there can be medical complications when treatment goes undone. All because you are presenting valuable information in your posts previously unavailable to patients due to limited time and access for information while visiting your office.All of this combines into establishing credibility, gaining trust, and building relationships and hopefully take some of the fear away associated with “going to the dentists”…and if a patient or potential new patient knows someone with a dental problem, who do you think they are going to refer them to….you!Myth #2: Social Media Platforms Are Only For TeenagersSocial networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are no longer sites just for teenagers. Businesses have found these networking sites to present an incredible opportunity for connecting with and engaging their audience.According to Inside Facebook, a Facebook tracking source,the fastest growing demographic is Women over 55. Women also comprised over 56.2% of Facebooks audience, and 45% of Facebook’s US audience is women over age 26.What does this mean for you: Women make approximately 80% of the decisions concerning purchases for themselves and their families.What percentage of women are in your practice and what’s their average age…bet they fall into one of these two ranges above. Women are extremely active on the Internet and social media networks. When the phone rings at your office, well over the majority of the calls are from women scheduling appointments or getting information.Myth #3: Too Time Consuming and OverwhelmingThe number of social media platforms available and all the information about social media can be overwhelming, IF you try to use all the networks starting out.One of the best pieces of advice is to start with just one, possibly two, of the social networks and become comfortable with how to use it. It’s better to be active and consistent on just a couple of sites than to be semi-active and inconsistent on a bunch of sites.Time is always a big factor in managing social media, but once past the learning curve, much of the work can (and should) be put on “auto-pilot”.Later if you determine you want to be active on the other sites but may not feel confident enough or may not have the time to manage the sites, you can always choose to outsource some or all your social media activities.What does this mean for you: Choose where you want to start and jump in…take action!Realize you can assign someone in your practice (person must see the benefit and be social) to manage your social sites, however, this person should never post for you in the 1st person as speaking for you. You will also want to have a social media policy in place for “what to and what not to” post.As you grow you will learn much of your posts and information can be done ahead of time and preset to post in the future. There are a lot of sites that allow you to make one post and then that site will automatically post your information to several other network sites…sort of “one post does all”.Myth #4: It Will Cost Too MuchYour advertising budget is one of the largest expenses associated with your practice. You have your newspaper and telephone book ads, magazine ads, direct mail outs, and possibly printed newsletters.Two major problems with traditional print ads: 1) They are static as mentioned earlier in this article and once read, there’s no interaction with the viewer. 2) With print ads, especially direct mail outs, at best there is only about a 5% return on the investment…what happened to the other 95% of your investment dollars?Solution: Social media marketing – interacting with patients and potential new patients.What does this mean for you: All the social media networking sites are Free to join, come with unlimited use, and are marketing your practice…24 / 7 / 365!It would be a mistake to pretend social media is totally free because there is the time involved with maintaining your sites, especially when maintained well whether maintained in-house or outsourced to a third party.When you factor in how many, or should I say how few, people are actually reached with traditional advertising, the cost of budgeting money for an ongoing social media presence pales in comparison.Add to that the fact only about 15% of the population still uses telephone books and print ads with the other 85% using online sources, you can see why creating and maintaining your online presence is critical to your practice.Bottom line: When done correctly, social media marketing has the ability to cut your advertising budget by as much as 90%! This translates into more money in your children’s college fund, more money to travel and enjoy life, and…last but not least, more time on the golf course (or your favorite hobby)!!The primary objective of social media marketing is a bridge that gives you access to people, information, and even companies that in the past, you didn’t have access to. Its one-on-one contact and its word of mouth advertising in the best of forms and…most of its….Free.Through your social media communities and patient inactivity you establish your practice’s online visibility, make contacts, gain their trust, and build profitable relationships ultimately leading to more new patients, more treatment acceptance, and more product and services sales.Isn’t that what you’ve wanted to do since you opened your practice? With social media…you can!