Unpicking social media, and why it’s not too late to make it work for you


  Posted by: Dental Design      22nd March 2023

The year is 2023 and many in the dental industry are still weighing up the pros and cons of social media….

If you’re not using it already, does this mean you’ve missed the boat? And if you are a
a practice or professional using Instagram, TikTok and/or the rest, are you seeing any tangible benefits from having a social media presence?

A quick scan of hashtags – #UKDentist has over 19,000 hits on Instagram, at time of writing – reveals that, broadly speaking, it’s either high profile, or no profile. Some practices are regularly posting content, have thousands of followers and are getting plenty of engagement. The fact they continue to do so, would indicate that they do get something out of it.

For practices or professionals with no profile, time is probably one of the main reasons for staying away so far. Surely posts, reels and videos require an amount of effort to set up and get right? Also, which platform(s) should you use for the most impact? Despite the fact it seems to have been around forever, Facebook has the most active users worldwide, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram respectively.[i] Tell this to any youngster you know and they will likely scoff; TikTok is the preferred choice for the under 25s.

What about the harmful aspects of social media and its reputation? Much has been written about the negative impact it can have on mental health and wellbeing. Also, there are issues around privacy and consent. If you are using these platform(s) to communicate with patients, your conduct must be professional and appropriate. Lines can become blurred with the inherent informality of social media, and is it ever OK to use emojis in a work context? Giving a ‘contact us’ option of WhatsApp is convenient, but always stay on the right side of ‘formal-but-friendly’.

There is also the problem of people using your Facebook page, for example, to post negative reviews or complaints. It is frustrating when comments appear and stay visible, when if they had been made to the practice direct, a satisfactory solution could have been quickly found. Some members of the team may not be keen on appearing on some, or any, social media platform(s), either. 

However, despite all the perceived problems, there are benefits too. It can be fun for a start, also an efficient way to relay information, such as changes to opening times, or if an appointment slot has become free. Some practices use it to post oral health tips and advice, and there are clinicians and dental technicians who use Instagram in particular to showcase examples of their work.

In the practice, there may be someone who is keen to take ownership of social media and create content, and sees it as a way to develop their role. It is free to sign up to most platforms, so you can dip your toe in the water without having to make any financial commitment. Unlike your practice website, which will have been built and designed by a professional, it is relatively easy to create an account that ticks the right boxes. There are free-to-use graphic design tools available online too to help you put together stunning posts.  

Think about what you want to achieve and the tone you want to set. Informative, fun, professional? Experiment to find out what works. If you aren’t getting ‘likes’, change things up. If it really isn’t working, then you have lost nothing by trying.

Social media can be a positive form of communication and an easy way to raise your profile. Plenty of people in the industry use it successfully, to talk with patients and colleagues and promote their services. Find out all the pros and pitfalls by talking with others in the dental community. A great place to do this is at events that bring the whole team together, such as the British Dental Conference & Dentistry Show (BDCDS), returning to NEC Birmingham in May. BDCDS is where all professionals of all disciplines come together to discuss their successes and challenges and predict future trends, and listen to experts in areas like social media and how to use it. A great learning environment, BDCDS will also host a trade floor of over 400 exhibitors.

Don’t overthink social media, and it’s not too late to join, either. With so much scope for promoting the work you do, creating a brand and building on your reputation, it can be a positive force in your career and business and be great fun, too.

The British Dental Conference & Dentistry Show 2023 will be held on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May, NEC Birmingham, co-located with DTS. 

For more information, visit birmingham.dentistryshow.co.uk or email dentistry@closerstillmedia.com

[i] Statista. Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2022, ranked by number of monthly active users. Published 26 July, 2022. Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/ (accessed January 2023).


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