Social media in dentistry
Many dental professionals are working on social media implementation to engage their clients and patients. Through effective use of marketing strategies on social media, it is possible to get away from traditional advertising techniques while increasing patients engagement. Today, people trust information obtained through social media more than they believe in professional reviews or traditional media. Online world makes it easy to find the best fit between a patient and a clinic in a matter of minutes. It also opens a possibility to make an impact on service quality of the clinic you went to. Patients are eager to leave reviews after going through high or low-quality service because it creates a feeling of impact. Therefore, where applicable, social media can be a powerful advertising tool that costs nothing but a bit of your time.
Make sure to comply to HIPAA standards
The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Thus, when using social media, dental professionals must ensure following of specific rules. According to the University of Scranton, these are some rules you must follow to implement social media without the risk of HIPAA policies violation:
- Distribute clear social networking policies to employees
- Avoid any discussion of patients, even in general terms
- Speak generally about conditions and treatments
- Prominently post your policies and procedures on all social media platforms
- Do not practice medicine online by responding to patients offline
Start with a basic package:
When businesses commit to social media implementation, they tend to make one huge mistake – creating accounts for the organization on every single social media there is. But after several days of meticulous activity on each of those accounts, people tend to give up. They spend tons of their time on managing each page but don’t see the desired outcomes. Thus, the means do not justify the ends. Time spent on social media does not outweigh the benefits an organization receives from it.
But you don’t have to, and in fact, shouldn’t spread out so much
Start with a basic package: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and maybe, Instagram
Let’s look at some essential functions each of those social media will cover for your clinic:
1. Share information
Here, Facebook and Twitter would come in handy.
Brief communication and right tags are crucial to success on Twitter. There, you can communicate with your patients in real time as people tend to check Twitter more often than any other social media. Due to its format, it is best to communicate promotions, tips, event promotions, and emergencies through the Twitter platform.
On the other hand, there is Facebook with it’s casual, yet quite a professional message format. Times of daily status sharing on Facebook are over. Nowadays, it is mostly used as a news outlet. Thus, informativeness is the most crucial aspect of your strategy on Facebook. As a dental professional, you can use it to share new practices and technologies that occur in the industry, healthcare methods, or even new methodologies applied at your clinic.
2. Ask for opinions
Facebook and LinkedIn offer great survey tools for your groups. You can ask for views, votes, service reviews and basically, anything that comes to mind. Getting instant feedback will allow you to take measures before any negative situation escalates. Also, it will show audience engagement which is an excellent indicator of how many of your patients are active social media users. Responsiveness is highly valued in the online world so actively engaging in conversation with your patients will pay off more than you can imagine.
3. Compare and improve quality
Dental assistants can use social media as a research tool. They use social media to effectively observe and evaluate competitors’ services in comparison to their clinic. Moreover, they can analyze and implement some of the competitors’ social media strategies to their advantage. Thus, through observing the competition, dental professionals can improve quality of their services if they mimic competitor’s tactics, or gain essential knowledge about competitor’s downfalls and services that were not well received by their patients.
4. Train medical personnel
LinkedIn is specifically designed to offer or search for jobs on the web. Although you may not necessarily acquire new staff through it, you can use other tools offered by this social media. Training courses is one of such tools. By providing online training to your employees, you offer them the path to growth and improvement at your clinic and thus create a loyalty base for them to stay with you.
Besides LinkedIn, Twitter has been known to be implemented in training programs. By joining specific tags on Twitter, employees are encouraged to engage in conversations with other trainees which increases the overall satisfaction related to the training.
We have decided to discuss Instagram separately because it differs from the other social media described above. As opposed to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it is hard to track direct impact from your activity on Instagram. However, it shouldn't discourage dental professionals from using it altogether. In 2018, Instagram has passed 700 million users milestone and keeps growing exponentially. Therefore, to defy its power is to challenge the power of 700 million people joined together by one single app.
Instagram is best suited for the creation of personal closeness with your patients. There, you can share pictures of your everyday challenges, activities, tips related to people’s daily lives, and much more. Thus, it is the least formal of all social media which allows it to create such intimate atmosphere. People are willing to look at you not as just their healthcare professional, but also as a real person with their own struggles and victories.