Social Media for Dentistry: Too Important to Ignore
With all the negative publicity surrounding social media platforms these days, it seems like dentistry is one of the few remaining safe topics to use them for to engage in constructive conversation and seek out helpful advice. The dental community has an abundance of topics on Facebook alone and is vigilant about protecting its groups by staying on point, pre-qualifying members, and intensely monitoring the pages. This formula generally helps keep order. Whether a dentist is young and just starting out in practice or aged 60+ and wrapping up their career soon, practitioners can benefit from social media. Whatever a dentist’s stage in life, it is important to be in the know about what people want by having a social media presence.
Joining social media has several advantages for dental practitioners. First, there is the sense of community that can be found conveniently without physically meeting and socializing, which has been more restricted these days and requires more of one’s time. Thankfully, dentistry as a social media topic has largely avoided other argumentative and controversial topics. Dental groups generally seem to sidestep the “outside noise” and offer users what’s needed without the negativity of many other social media experiences. As a dentist, it is not only fun but useful to know what’s new and what other dentists are talking about.
When making purchasing decisions social media allows dentists to concentrate their searches on direct, specific questions rather than plowing through page after page of product information that only tells them what they want to hear. The internet can be viewed as an “information calculator,” because when people know what and where to ask, they can get specific, calculated results.
Social media can also help dentists build their own “online brand,” which is important in today’s world. Often, dental organizations choose their key opinion leaders from among those who frequently interact with dental social media groups. Posting pictures of interesting cases, offering professional opinions on others’ questions, and basically showing the dental community that they know their way around today’s equipment choices are effective ways for clinicians to gain consideration from peers as a dental expert. Dentists with an online, ie, social media, presence are much more visible for engagements such as speaking opportunities than those who are not.
Moreover, dental entrepreneurs, which all dentists in private practice essentially are, need to do more than just acclimate themselves to following the information. They need to understand the value of creating a following so their patient base is hearing from them all the time and not just receiving an occasional postcard, phone call reminder, or email that may wind up in a spam folder. Dentists should learn how to build a successful social media page(s), encourage membership, and keep it going. When hiring, the practice should consider the value of multi-tasking; a savvy social media person at the front desk can be a great asset. At a minimum a practice should have a Facebook or Instagram page. In the United States, 73% of Facebook users check it daily.1 Combined with the fact that only approximately 3% of its users are under the age of someone who would be making their own dental appointment,2 Facebook offers an efficient supplement to mailing out postcards and making phone calls one patient at a time.
For beginners, it may seem daunting as to where to start. It begins by creating an account. Get someone to help you do this if you are not sure how. After creating an account, look around the site, join some relatable groups, and simply start reading what people are talking about. Dentists can learn a lot from communicating within their peer group(s).
Numerous excellent dental group forums are on social media that act solely as virtual communities to offer good advice. Group forums review dental technology and equipment, offer advice on cases, advertise practice sales, post job vacancies, highlight bad product/equipment experiences, and everything else in between. These groups can help dentists improve their craft while enjoying the experiences along the way. Some notable Facebook groups, known for their intense interaction and status as popular industry favorites, are described below. All of these groups ask users at least one or two qualifying questions prior to acceptance, so dentists should be prepared to explain their value/relevance to the group. This is done to maintain integrity in the group, prevent novice sales reps from pushing their product or service, and keep out anyone simply looking to stir up trouble.
Dental Nachos (approximately 35,300 members) https://www.facebook.com/groups/370375713336682. Geared for dentists, dental employees, dental students, dental salespeople, and overall dental enthusiasts, Dental Nachos covers a variety of topics from case advice/discussion, information about practices for sale, and practice management guidance, to dental humor and more. The group’s mission statement is “to increase the success and happiness of dentists throughout every stage of their career.” It has heavy social interaction, and the moderators generate a large portion of the conversation. This is a good group for staying current.
Dental Peeps/Dental Peeps Network (more than 300,000 members) https://www.facebook.com/groups/113520782054984. This is a network of smaller groups, offering concentrated regional membership depending on one’s location. While the network boasts several hundred thousand members, membership is disbursed among subgroups, such as Dental Peeps and Baltimore Dental Peeps, etc. As opposed to Dental Nachos’ approach of proactive posting, these groups are spurred on more so by questions from the group members, who post everything from recommendations for continuing education classes, to humorous dental pictures, to used equipment for sale. This network is geared toward users looking for something local rather than general knowledge.
Nifty Thrifty Dentists (approximately 40,000 members) https://www.facebook.com/groups/niftythriftydentists. Centered in a podcast and website by the same name, the Nifty Thrifty Dentists page seeks out group discounts on equipment, supplies, and software programs by obtaining special purchasing packages for its members. The group also seems to highlight products that its members have created to stimulate demand, making group membership desirable for practitioners who have brought a dental product to market or simply enjoy bargain hunting.
Dental Disrupt Nation (formerly Dental Hacks Nation and disciple of the Very Dental Podcast; approximately 30,000 members) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1809087592696411. Dental Disrupt Nation is unique in that they allow some edgy humor, fun, and politics, but they are strict about being non-offensive and disallowing any marketing without clear permission to do so. It’s like an adult dental playground or bar, with an interactive following with amusing and worthwhile topics. Its posts cover a wide variety of topics, and the group will interest those who are on the fun-loving side.
Dentist Executives and Practice Owners (approximately 16,000 members) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1548682568776025. The specialty of this group seems to be connecting dental investors to potential practices and providing practice sale assistance, but there is plenty of additional conversation about marketing, products, and upcoming dental events around the United States. This group offers worthwhile information for dentists who are considering selling or relocating their practice.
Other groups are focused on certain brands of equipment. For example, Keep CERECing (https://www.facebook.com/groups/509950069182766) is a group dedicated to same-day dentistry offered by CEREC® from Dentsply Sirona. Practice owners or any curious observers can go here for answers to case and equipment questions, sales/service information, and anything else CEREC-related. Another group is Medit Users (https://www.facebook.com/groups/meditusers), a technology support group centered around the use of Medit scanners that provides case advice, demonstration videos, product support, and even user recommendations for future software updates.
Facebook and/or Instagram business pages are great tools, but what keeps them great is using them correctly. Engagement is crucial to having frequent users see your page. Besides hanging a sign in the office to encourage patients to become group members, the practice has to produce compelling posts that will make patients want to see the page in their feed regularly. Besides being informed, people like to be entertained. Posting humorous and relevant pictures, stories, anecdotes, and other cute/clever items can go a long way toward retaining peoples’ interest. If you use content from other sites or pages, give credit to the pages on which you found it when credit is due; the other sites may even follow you and share something of yours in the future and expose your page to potential new patients. “News”-type posts may include things like the office being closed due to inclement weather, the practice making a major technology purchase and how it will benefit patients, the completion of a renovation, the addition of a fish tank to the office, or even the adoption of a practice mascot. A pediatric dental office might post the new iPad® entertainment wall that will keep kids occupied while they wait.
Basically, you want to keep your following “in the loop,” like you would family. It is important, though, to be confident that the person in charge of posting will remain politically correct, professional, and completely sensitive to all the issues of the day. This person’s values should be in line with your own; one off-color joke or remark can easily alienate the following you’ve built. Words and actions affect people, so take the emotionally intelligent approach.
People follow groups for a variety of reasons, including sometimes just to laugh; if a dental practice can make that happen, it might build up a sizable network and before long have people sharing its posts. Social media marketing is not so much a sprint race, but a lifelong journey. The more effort a practice puts into it, the better it will be.
About the Author
Director of Sales Operations, Marketing, and Public Relations, CAD-Ray North America (cad-ray.com)
1. Beveridge C. 19 Facebook demographics to inform your strategy in 2022. Hootsuite website. March 24, 2022. https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-demographics/. Accessed September 14, 2022.
2. Share of Facebook users in the United States as of June 2022, by age group. Statista website. https://www.statista.com/statistics/187549/facebook-distribution-of-users-age-group-usa/. Accessed September 14, 2022.