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Social Media: How It’s Changed Marketing for Dentists

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Social Media: How It’s Changed Marketing for Dentists

 

Guy Njewel

 

               If you’re reading this, you probably check at least one of the following every morning when you wake up: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Tumblr. In an era where almost everyone has some kind of online presence, businesses have come to realize how useful social media can be in promoting new products, generating larger revenue, and cultivating a loyal consumer base. But how does all of this apply to dentistry?

               Networking involves gathering contacts and building mutually beneficial relationships that can help a practice grow. The internet and technology have continued to help drive the immediate, real-time communication in our society today, and a major part of that involves social media.[1] It has revolutionized the way marketing, advertising, and self-promotion are implemented, streamlining the process and making it much more efficient.

               One of the ways dentists can find new patients is through word of mouth. For example, your friend visits Dr. X to get a tooth pulled and has a great experience; so he recommends Dr. X when you need dental care. Websites like Yelp have taken referrals to a whole other level. Even if people don’t know anything about the reviewers on the site, they’re still inclined to listen to their advice.[2] Nowadays, pulling out the phone book and putting ads in the local newspaper won’t work as much as social media, not to mention how time-consuming it is. Facebook can be an effective way to spread the word about a practice. It allows dentists to provide oral health education, promote a product or service, and find prospective patients. If a page is regularly updated, it can offer a way for dentists to maintain a constant communication with current and possibly future patients.[2]

               Social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram can also be useful in a networking or marketing campaign. You can tweet about the newest whitening procedure your practice offers or tips on maintaining good oral hygiene. You can also post before-and-after pictures of procedures you’ve performed on real patients. Similarly, YouTube is another great way to provide patient testimonials, inform people about a particular procedure, or even give a tour of the practice. These platforms present an opportunity to publicize your brand, increase awareness, and spark interest in what you have to offer. Social networking sites are also less expensive than traditional marketing methods.[1] There’s no need to hire a company to create an ad campaign, and the message reaches the audience within seconds.

               But what about the negative aspects of using social media as self-promotion? Many times, dentists don’t know where to begin or don’t have a clear direction regarding what to post on their Facebook or Twitter. A poorly designed campaign can end up hurting the practice, so a good first impression, especially on the Internet, is crucial.[1] There is only one chance to influence what a future patient may think of you, and a haphazardly created Facebook or Instagram page isn’t the way to do it. Consumers could be more likely to ignore messages or updates until they get feedback from their fellow Facebook friends. Online reputation management is extremely important,[1] and I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t post pictures of inappropriate content, or pictures of patients without their expressed written permission. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of social media, so always think before you post. Even though you can delete later, sometimes the damage has already been done.

               To Tweet or not to Tweet? The AAOMS states there are three main goals to focus on when starting a social media campaign for your practice: generate positive attention, create excitement and buzz, and continually build a network of loyal fans and friends who can assist in promoting your message.[1] The social media craze is real and as long as it’s done correctly, dentists can definitely benefit from participating.

 

References

Azark R. Social media and dentistry. CDS Review 2010 (May/Jun):10-11. Accessed May 11, 2016, from https://www.cds.org/uploadedFiles/News/CDS_Review/cds_rev_may.10.pdf

 

American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Social media/social networking marketing arena: Should I enter? AAOMS Today 2011 (Suppl: Nov/Dec). Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://www.aaoms.org/images/uploads/pdfs/2011_12_pmn.pdf