Usually, I’d provide you with advice and suggestions from a patient’s point of view, but with Social Media Day looming and many dental professionals presumably utilizing social media as a marketing strategy, I decided that this post is going to focus on, not the benefits of introducing Social Media to your practice, but rather, 3 important things to keep in mind before going ahead with your plan to utilize social media as well as what to do next.
Being in the digital age pretty much demands that social media be a part of your life in some way, shape, or form. For the longest time, I figured that hey, I can go without a Facebook account, and I could– for a while– but as Facebook started to grow and not just millions but 2 billion people signed up, it was becoming impossible to keep saying no. For a practice not yet on board, I imagine it’s even harder still, since most effective marketing strategies include and encourage the use of social media. Basically, social media is an unstoppable train and everyone is telling you to get on or you’re going to be running along behind it desperate to catch up.
However, getting on that train requires planning, commitment, creativity, and an incredible amount of time. It’s not just creating a social media account with Facebook or Instagram and stepping aside to let it do its thing. There are several things to consider, things you may not have even thought about, but are important to the successful implementation of social media in your practice.
Privacy is essential to all experiences inside and outside the office and just as patients need to feel that their information is secure inside your office, they have to feel just as secure sharing with you outside your office. And not just patients but staff as well. If you are unfamiliar with the privacy legislation in Canada, I implore you to read it here and become familiar with all the rules and regulations that are laid out.
In an article written by Jeff Glaizel, he gives an example, regarding the privacy when it comes to posting images: “To protect privacy, any image shown cannot be identified by patient name or through other identifiers. One must ensure that all content remains within advertising and promotional standards set out within your practice’s jurisdiction.” You have to remember that privacy is all about trust and losing your patient’s or even your staff’s trust could be potentially devastating to your bottom line. Always be sure to do your research to make sure no one is breaching privacy regulations.
It takes time, patience, and consistency to maintain a complete and total social media presence; and depending on how many social media networks you decide to sign up for, it could mean even more time. An effective solution to this problem is to hire an expert in the social media and marketing field to help keep your social media presence updated and interesting. The only downside to this solution is the lack of personal connection between your patients and you. However, to keep on top of this, it is important that you review each post and contribute as much as you can in order to keep that personal connection between you and your prospective and existing patients alive and well.
I think it’s important to bring this up since everyone is concerned when it comes to security. There are simply too many security risks to count, but the most common are due to lack of vigilance. In an article on hootsuite.com, some of the issues include
- Neglecting to monitor social media
- Not implementing privacy settings
Just some of the ways to prevent security risks, according to HootSuite’s article, are . . .
- Create a social media policy, including best practices, safety, and security guidelines and procedures on training and enforcement
- Give employees social media training
- Limit access to social media
- Check on network privacy settings, access, and publishing privileges and recent security threats regularly.
And always create a password that includes at least one number, one capital letter, and one symbol.
It is important to remember that once you’re on the social media train, you must update on a regular basis. Leaving your social media network empty or not updating for weeks and months at a time is a big no no. Just as you can generate interest, you can just as easily, if not more easily lose it, and sometimes it might take months to gain back that following you once had. Keep your social media exciting, interesting, personable, and up-to-date.
As it was mentioned before with developing a website, utilizing social media in your practice is not so much a job but a process. Once you start, you can’t just stop. There is no “done” because you always need to be updating it either with something that you know will keep bringing people back. The only way to do this successfully is by preparing, planning it out and creating a strategy that you are going to stick to.
- Hootsuite: 5 Social Media Security Risks and How to Avoid Them
- JCDA: Plugged In: Social Media in the Dental Profession (J Can Dent Assoc 2013;79:d148)