Dentists can get started on social media by sharing their passions

Social media is no longer considered a fad, and the numbers back it up.

This according to Kristie Nation, the CEO of a popular dental marketing company, who says 63 percent of online adults use Facebook every day and 71 percent of all online adults use Facebook. On top of this, more than 27 million pieces of content are produced daily online.

The audience is there for dentists to communicate with.

For dentists who are looking to get their practice started on social media, this can be a lot to take in. But Nation, who led a lecture titled “Social Media: Leverage or Liability?” at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in Anaheim on May 16, says there is an easy way for dentists to start: post about their passion.

“Post things that you are passionate about that reflect the culture of the practice,” Nation said. “Facebook and other social media platforms work best for local relationship-based business. It’s not about the number of likes on your page. You need to post things you are passionate about.”

Nation’s lecture at CDA Presents showed dentists the correct social media platforms to professionally and responsibly promote their practices and build local community support in the online world.

Nation said there is a misconception sometimes among dentists that they should create a Facebook page and begin posting about root canals, crowns, whitenings and scheduling appointments. Instead, Nation recommends dentists use social media to let patients get to know them. Examples could be posting about their hobbies (baking, fishing, community events the practice may be involved in, etc.).

“New patients want to talk about dentists on social media because it’s a first date. But patients who have been patients for years and love you, don’t talk about you unless you give them a reason, and that is where social media rules the roost. Social media gives you an opportunity to share your passion,” Nation said.

With sharing content that the dentist is passionate about comes more engagement, and more engagement bodes well in terms of that practice showing up more on Google searches, Nation said.

“If dentists Google themselves, ideally, their websites should be the first result. Below that, dentists often find a variety of unfamiliar review sites with limited information. However, if the practice runs a strong social media program, those pages are highly likely to outrank review sites with limited traffic,” Nation said. “Regardless of if you have thousands and thousands of likes, if you are maintaining your social media presence and you are posting, tweeting and creating content on a regular basis, Google likes that. So remember, it’s not just about the like, it is the freshness of the content, it’s the engagement rate and ultimately it’s also about reputation management.”

So where should dentists start and how often should they post? Nation said Facebook is a good platform to start with because the majority of a dentist’s patients are on Facebook. Twitter is another good one if there is capacity to operate it in the practice. Nation recommends dentists post once a day on Facebook and multiple times a day on Twitter. If a practice has a Pinterest account, they should post a couple of times a week, Nation said.

Keeping a practice’s website, and blog, if the dentist has one, updated also is key.

“People make snap judgments about you and your practice based on your website in less than 30 seconds. In fact, in less than a second people actually look at your website and decide if they are going to stay,” Nation said. “If they dig a little deeper and find that your last blog post was from 2010, what do you think they are going to think about your dentistry? It is probably outdated.”

Just as important as knowing what to post and how often, is a dentist’s ability to “listen” to social media by Googling himself or herself and searching for dentistry related hash tags such as #dentist and #ilovemydentist to understand what is being shared in the social media world.

“Social media is word of mouth that we add an ‘L’ to – social media is ‘world of mouth,’ that’s all it is. Use it to make sure the word of mouth that you have relied on so heavily for years continues,” Nation said.

Dentists can adopt a social media policy in their practices, like any other internal policy, that establishes who is going to manage the practice’s social media presence, how much the dentist(s) wants to participate in the posting of content, what social media sites and services the practice will participate in and what subject matter is appropriate.

CDA Practice Support’s Guide for the New Dentist has a chapter dedicated to social media. It is important to consider copyright laws protect photos, videos, graphics, music and text published on the Internet. Dentists should remember that citing or crediting the original copyright owner does not grant freedom to use content without obtaining documented permission to do so. Even “shareware” or “royalty-free” media such as clip art requires users to read and accept the terms of use agreement. Dentists should review the provisions of any user agreement to ensure they do not use material in a way that violates the contract.

The Guide for the New Dentist recommends dentists ensure any official social media account is created under their name, email and security settings. Otherwise, the control of their online presence may not stay with their practice if an employee leaves.

Dentists should also be aware that it is important for them not to respond to any reviews online due to a potential HIPAA violation. By responding to a patient in an online forum, the dentist is disclosing that he or she is a patient. Dentists can instead, try to resolve any issues privately with a patient and see what can be done to remedy the issue he or she has with the practice.

Members also can call the TDIC Risk Management Advice Line at 800.733.0634 for personal support from risk management experts.

For more social media tips, visit cda.org/practicesupport.