Social media: creating a relatable online presence and providing advice and reassurance during lockdown
Megan Fairhall explains why social media is an opportunity to break down barriers and connect with dental patients.
The UK is home to 45 million active social media users in 2020. Some people love it, others don’t get it, whilst some hate it. For me social media is indisputably a powerful business and educational tool. During these unprecedented times, social media has proved more valuable than ever.
My name is Megan Fairhall. I qualified with a BSc in dental hygiene and dental therapy in 2010. I created my brand #LiveToSmile and harness social media to reach out to new patients. In particular promoting my teeth whitening treatments. I have been working with Philips Oral Healthcare as a key opinion leader, helping to uplift and inspire other DHTs.
Connections are of paramount importance especially during this challenging time. Imagine for a second you had to go through this lockdown without any means to reach out or connect with anyone (other than by phone or letter), whether at a personal or professional level?
Social media growth
Social media has given me a different sense of value and personal worth. Five years ago, I was mainly addressing the millennial and younger generations. The idea was to use social media to give a positive and refreshing look of what dentistry was about and impart my dental knowledge to the general public. My aim was to create a relatable online presence and build on from there. Now more and more people want to be connected, to get answers quickly, without having to wait for their next dental appointment.
With the lockdown, social media and technology have become of great importance. I have actually enjoyed spending time online brushing up on my learning and also connecting with my peers. In addition, I have loved reaching out to my patients and feeling a stronger connection than usual. Patients appreciate that dental practices cannot be open at the moment but this does not mean that they don’t still have needs. The fact that we are not as accessible makes them focus on their health much more. I guess it is the self care element that everyone is talking about. I can see that happening with my patients and the public in general to a far greater extent.
I must admit that back in March, I felt I had to hold back as there was little guidance. So I refrained from posting on social media. As things settled, I definitely saw the need to help patients and the general public online. Of course there are the urgent dental care hubs, which have been put in place for emergencies. But generally speaking, people also want to have tips about how to look after their teeth at home, providing recommendations for the right products to use to help prevent any emergencies – and also to help them feel reassured that we are still there for them. Ultimately we need to do everything we can to prevent people from having to go to these dental care centres.
However, the advice is not just about the teeth. I give information linking oral and systemic health, particularly pertinent in times like these. For example I tell people who have recently been unwell to change brush heads as soon as they are better to prevent bacteria from building up in the bristles affecting their oral health and general wellbeing. I give them advice tailored to their individual needs. I really feel it is important to impart my knowledge specifically at a time like this. It also helps to continue and build our professional relationships with our patients.
What social media allows these days is the opportunity to answer questions pretty much straight away. I find it incredibly rewarding and patients really show their appreciation.
I have had the opportunity to conduct some Instagram Live sessions too. Here I collaborate with a number of dental and health brands, to educate people and encourage them to look after their overall health. The beauty of these is to prompt questions, and to be able to help immediately with advice.
I feel blessed to have social media as an additional tool – especially at the moment.
To connect with Megan Fairhall on instagram visit @meganfairhall_.
For more information please visit www.philips.co.uk/dentalprofessional.