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Inside Dentistry
December 2021
Volume 17, Issue 12

The Latest Social Media Trends for Dentists

How to choose which platforms are worth your time and which to pass on

Naomi Cooper Hochman

Do you love using social media for your dental practice, or do you prefer to ignore it? Social media often gets a bad rap. Some dentists have embraced it, some view it as a necessary evil, and others avoid it altogether.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many communities across the country issued stay-at-home orders, social media proved to be a surefire way for many dentists to stay in contact with their patients. It provided a simple yet effective method for clinicians to communicate changes to practices' schedules and safety protocols and to keep their respective communities, including both patients and prospective patients alike, informed with up-to-the-minute, factual information.

If you haven't been using social media during the pandemic, now that it feels like the country is taking a collective deep breath and beginning to look ahead to the future, it is a great time to ramp up your engagement. But with a constant flow of new social media platforms, such as TikTok and Snapchat, popping up on the scene, it can be difficult to know which sites are in your best interest to engage on. Fortunately, a dentist doesn't have to be a social media savant in order to use it as a powerful tool for practice marketing. When planning your approach, consider these commonly asked social media-related questions that I've been hearing most often from dentists.

Should I Still Focus on Facebook?

Believe it or not, Facebook celebrated its 17th birthday this year, and this social media powerhouse still reigns supreme in terms of total numbers of users. As of July 2021, there were approximately 200 million users in the United States.1 When it comes to determining whether or not to post updates on Facebook or to run paid ads, it helps to consider who it is that you are trying to reach, and for many dentists, Facebook is still the best place to their focus social media efforts.

Because mothers (and grandmothers) are often the main healthcare decision makers of families, targeting these individuals within your local community is a smart way to create a steady flow of new appointments, and Facebook continues to be the best social media platform on which to do so. The data indicates that 74% of Americans between the ages of 35 and 54 use Facebook,2 52% of Americans aged 55 years and older use Facebook,2 and 55% of Facebook users are female.

Likewise, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is another top contender for dental practices. With its heavy emphasis on visual presentation and esthetics, Instagram is an ideal place to showcase the dental practice with pictures of beautiful, healthy patient smiles and before and after images (all with signed releases, of course). Although baby boomers prefer Facebook, millennials flock to Instagram, especially women. In 2018, 88% of new babies were born to millennials, the oldest of whom are turning 40 this year. Therefore, any dentist looking to reach young families should have Instagram on his or her social media radar.

Do I Need TikTok?

TikTok is certainly leading the social media craze in the United States right now. The platform has been growing exponentially since it exploded onto the scene in 2017, and it remained the most downloaded app as recently as Q1 2021. Statistics like this are impressive, but does that automatically mean that dentists should have a presence on TikTok? No, especially if you don't already have a solid following on Facebook and Instagram.

TikTok users skew younger with individuals from Generation Z comprising the majority of them. This platform might deserve consideration if your practice is located in a college town, for example, or if you are specifically looking to attract younger patients. And for those dentists who consider themselves early adopters of technology, establishing a presence on TikTok could be a way to differentiate the practice from the competition. However, if you are looking to boost your restorative practice or you are just getting started on social media, TikTok is not likely to deliver the results you want to see.

Do I Have to Post Videos?

There's no doubt that video content is more engaging than text and pictures. That's why TikTok and Snapchat, another popular social media app among younger generations, are entirely based around creating and sharing video content. But this doesn't mean that creating and posting videos is an absolute must for dentists.

There is a small subset of practitioners who like to leverage videos, but if you aren't inclined to produce them, don't feel like you cannot market your practice online without them. The good news is that if you have been thinking about making videos to post online, patients don't expect to see professionally edited content. In fact, it's just the opposite.

With the rise in popularity of apps like TikTok, Snapchat, and even Instagram Stories, casual, in-the-moment videos are very much on-trend right now. Although anything posted online should be well thought out and maintain a level of professionalism—you are, after all, representing your dental business—don't be afraid to post something that isn't perfectly polished. Authentic content is often the most engaging. As you share your videos on social media, don't forget to also post them on the grandfather of all online video sites, YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, and as of Q3 2020, it boasts 126 million monthly viewers in the United States alone and captures the attention of 70% of all Internet users aged 36 and older.

Keep It Light

Most of all, don't stress about all of the social media networks that are out there right now. Choose one or two to focus on, and depending on your practice, Facebook and Instagram should be your top two considerations. Keep in mind the types of patients that you are trying to reach and choose the platforms that are especially relevant to them.

And if you don't have the time, you don't have a staff member to assist you, or all of this is overwhelming, there are trusted companies of social media experts affiliated with the dental industry that can help you get your online plan up and running, including Adit, PatientPop, WEO Media, and Sesame Communications.

References

1. Tankovska H. Leading countries based on Facebook audience size as of January 2021. Statista website. https://www.statista.com/statistics/268136/top-15-countries-based-on-number-of-facebook-users. Published September 10, 2021. Accessed October 7, 2021.

2. Newberry C. 47 Facebook stats that matter to marketers in 2021. Hootsuite website. https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics. Published January 11, 2021. Accessed October 7, 2021.

3. Tankovska H. Distribution of Facebook users in the United States as of January 2021, by gender. Statista website. https://www.statista.com/statistics/266879/facebook-users-in-the-us-by-gender. Published August 10, 2021. Accessed October 7, 2021.

About the Author

Naomi Cooper Hochman, a dental industry expert and strategic advisor, co-founded Doctor Distillery and is the CEO of Minoa Marketing.

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