Plugged In: Social Media in the Dental Profession

October 4, 2013


Dr. Jeff Glaizel

Social media allows people to create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities. It’s a powerful connecter of friends (Facebook), professionals (LinkedIn), news junkies (Twitter), video watchers (YouTube) and many other communities. For dentists, engaging a targeted audience through social media can also effectively promote your practice. But social media isn’t for everyone. Growing your practice through any of the many available social media platforms requires a strategy and consistent presence.

More than a website

Dentists with established practices and a professional website may look at social media and ask, “Why should I invest time in this?” It’s not clear that adopting social media to market your practice will attract new patients. But if managed effectively, social media can shape the online presence of a dentist and the dental team by building credibility and bringing personality to your practice. In a competitive market, the opportunity to interact with a community and connect with people beyond the reach of traditional marketing methods could make a difference in your ability to stand out.

There are also other advantages to social media compared to promotional emails and newsletters. One advantage is cost. Social media applications are free and open to anyone with a username and password. And because content is shared with followers, there isn’t a need for defined mailing lists.

Social media can be used as an effective tool to market you and your practice. Posts could provide information about current events and promotions in your dental office. Or they could be used to share dental resources and advice by linking to helpful articles and videos geared towards patients.

Management considerations

Before deciding to incorporate social media into your practice, consider the time commitment needed to keep your content current and to respond to comments. Social media management often requires daily maintenance to establish a credible voice in your community.

There are also privacy considerations when using social media that must respect all applicable federal, provincial and regulatory legislation. For example, to protect privacy, any image shown cannot be identified by patient name or through other identifiers. One must ensure that all content remains within advertising and promotional standards set out within your practice’s jurisdiction. Maintaining a trustworthy voice within social media also means having to perform a careful balancing act between your professional and personal presence.

The exposure that comes with establishing an online presence can leave a dentist open to potentially negative feedback. Patients or other participants in your social media networks can comment about you, your team or their satisfaction with the services they received. Negative press can travel quickly and your office must be prepared to manage comments that are potentially damaging to your office and ultimately your reputation.

Social media is here to stay and is becoming an integral part of everyday communication. If you are considering a leap into the world of social media, be prepared with a strategy to grow awareness of your practise and welcome patient engagement.

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