Think about the first thing you look at on any web page, or page in a book for that matter. Do your eyes focus on the small print? No, they immediately zoom to the picture or graphic. Then they scan the rest of the page for information. The headline and the picture grab your attention and make you want to read more. Newspapers and magazines have this down to a science. The main content is accentuated at the top and the importance of the material wanes as you read down the page. You only have seconds to grab someones attention before they move on. The same goes for a Facebook fan page or Twitter page. If you really want to gain more fans and interactions, you must take advantage of the page "real estate" available to you.
Facebook allows for some great real estate customization on fan pages. The profile picture is the first thing you see when you visit a page, so it should really catch attention. The profile picture can now be 180x540 pixels (down from 200x600). This is a big piece of real estate on the page. The profile picture should inform the visitor who you are, what you are about, and where you can be found. Remember the rules of a good headshot and the rules of body language. Smile! Don't cross your arms. Many people think crossed arms means confidence. It actually is a defensive posture and should be left out of pictures. Include a logo and a catch phrase but don't overdo it. I strongly advise using only a logo as a profile pic for a business or personal page. It says nothing about you except that you hired someone to design a pretty logo. Social media is about making personal connections, even if you are marketing your business. Be sure to include your website somewhere on the picture. All of this information should be balanced very nicely. Many people go overboard and fill every spot with graphics or text. A little space is fine and if in doubt, side on the side of blank space.
Twitter does not allow for as much customization as Facebook, but their is still some good real estate available on each page. The profile information only allows a short description and one website, so their is not much wiggle room there. A little hint: Rotate your web page, with your Facebook address, or blog address every once and a while. The main portion of real estate comes with the background. There are several default backgrounds you can choose, and many people upload photos of their favorite scene as a background. What a missed opportunity. Why not use that space to really tell a little bit about yourself and your practice? Much like the Facebook profile pic, you can customize the background to maximize your exposure. This one gets a bit tricky. Since several computer monitors and browsers show web pages differently, it is very difficult to get a perfectly fitting background every time. I usually say what the heck. As long as the information is there in nice form the message will get across. There are several different tutorials out there on the web, so I won't bore you with that here. Once again tell who you are, what you are about, and list where to find you. The graphical information will make up for the puny description to the left.
Custom backgrounds are also available on other social media sites like YouTube, Ning and Myspace. Wherever you are, make sure to take advantage of the real estate! Your picture will say a thousand words to drive business to your practice. To find out more about custom material, visit us at http://facebook.com/socialmediadentist or http://twitter.com/socialmediadent.
Jason T. Lipscomb is a general dentist in Richmond, VA and a co-author of Social Media for Dentists. Dr. Lipscomb has developed the methods used by Social Media for Dentists after several years of private practice. He maintains a unique perspective on dental marketing by operating two busy practices and researching social media practices. Social Media for Dentists is one of the only dental specific Social Media marketing books. Social Media for Dentists L.L.C. offers hands on training to dentists all over the country.