Do you like my social media style?

using social mediaBethany Rushworth offers her opinion on social media, and explains how it is a wonderful way for colleagues to network, share information and learn from each other.

Throughout lockdown I spent more time than usual on social media. I utilised my extra time to produce content for students and other relatively newly-qualified dentists (which I hope is of value!).

I was always very aware that with social media came the good, the bad and the (very) ugly. However, during the past few months, I’ve increasingly seen all three at their extremes.

For as long as I have known, the use of social media by dentists has had opposition. People who don’t like it, maybe people who don’t understand it…and then there’s the ‘trolls’.

While I agree it could be perceived as a race to the top to be a KPI (key person of Instagram). Ultimately, it is important to consider why so many people are now trying to build their profile on social media as a dentist and the place it has in today’s society. 

Number crunching

There are more than one billion users on Instagram and two billion on Facebook. A huge proportion of the population is using social media regularly, if not daily. Where else do we have the opportunity to reach this number of people and potential patients?

Not only is social media free, it is easily accessible to the majority. Therefore, few people can argue that they can’t join in.

Whether you are using it to increase your patient numbers, to share your message or, in my case, to provide education and inspiration, social media is an amazing way to reach a lot of people. And to ultimately grow your business and personal brand.

The rule of seven

The rule of seven states that, on average, it will take seven interactions with your ‘brand’ before a purchase.

This might not always apply to dentistry. However, from experience, if I am looking for a service (and particularly an aesthetic one) where the provider’s style or vision impacts me, I will immediately go to social media to look at examples of their work and clients. This includes salons, venues for events and, in some cases, healthcare.

A professional profile is an easy to view, up-to-date portfolio. It allows patients to see your work, your approach and get to know you as a person.

Building trust

Dentistry can be extremely scary for many. But by us posting images and videos on social media, patients can access countless dentists and get a feel for them. This helps patients find someone they are comfortable with.

This trust can be the difference between someone getting necessary treatment completed or leaving it until things have significantly deteriorated.

It is also a wonderful way for colleagues to network, share information and learn from each other. In turn, benefiting patients and bringing dentists closer together.

Provided people continue to be honest with the work they share (such as not editing it or passing off others’ clinical work as their own) and are not distributing false information, I struggle to see a reason for the backlash some clinicians face on these platforms.

It is normal for different individuals and businesses to have varied approaches to their work. As long as no one is hurt in the process, my approach will continue to be ‘each to their own!’

No one is forcing anyone to use social media or to share their work. So if you would rather not, that is certainly your prerogative. But we definitely shouldn’t shoot others down for their way of doing things and adapting to the way society is changing.

This article first ran in Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue of Dentistry magazine here.

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