By Robert W. Heydrich, D.M.D, M.S.
Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. We share ideas, opinions, special events and connect with friends and loved ones. For several years now, different businesses have also made their way on to these platforms. Why? Well, to allow consumers to become familiar with their products or services. The dental field, including endodontics is no exception.
Social media is quickly becoming an important tool to ‘get the word out’ on what we do as endodontist and why we are the root canal specialists. It will not surprise any of you reading this that the term root canal is not a term that conjures warm and fuzzy feelings in the population at large. To help change the public perception of root canals and our specialty, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) has, in recent years, launched a public awareness campaign that includes print, broadcast, billboard and social media. You will likely be familiar with the term Worth Saving. For example, take a look at the metrics from a past Satellite Media Tour that the AAE successfully completed:
- 20+ Total Interviews
- 384 Broadcast TV Interviews Aired
- 448 Radio Interviews Aired
- 370 Online Video Distributions
- 1,201 Total Placements
- 25,867,677 Total Impressions
[source aae.org website]
Those are impressive numbers, and their work is far from over.
How Social are You?
The AAE public awareness campaign is a great start, but we can all help move the needle. If you or your practice don’t already have a presence on social media, or are off to a slow start, these are a few things to consider. Before we continue let me make the disclaimer that I am not a guru, and at best I am still a student of this art, however these are a few thoughts I have gathered from my own journey through the platforms of Instagram and Facebook (now Meta). There are a variety of other social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter, but for the scope of this article, we will limit the discussion to Instagram and Facebook.
How to Get Started
You will first need to have a Facebook business page to create a business profile on Instagram. These two platforms are under the Meta technology company. Most younger practitioners will likely have this process complete, but for those who do not – a quick Google search will give you all the information you need to launch into the social media universe. In addition, both Instagram and Facebook make it easy for you to post content directly from your phone.
Quick Tip: You can simultaneously post to your Facebook account from Instagram.
Make it Personal
What content do you want to post about? It is my opinion, that it’s best to follow the KISS (keep it simple and straightforward) principle. Post about the uniqueness of your practice, your state, your city or town and your folks (doctors and staff). Some practices also post about their happy and satisfied patients. For this last one it is a good practice to have their written permission before posting, and to follow all HIPAA compliance requirements.
Make it Interesting
What is “a day in the life” of your practice? Today’s patients not only look at your webpage (if you don’t have one, you need one), but also check your practice out on social media. Show off your folks and your interests. You may also post about a recent scientific breakthrough in our field or other related field.
Did you treat an interesting or difficult case? Did you have a follow-up with remarkable healing? Again, remember to be HIPAA compliant. Did you celebrate a birthday or anniversary? Was there a recent addition to your practice (team member or baby)? Is there a holiday or special event coming up? Do you have a special charity you and your team dedicate time to? You get the idea.
While it is said, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, don’t post something that’s not original and claim it as your own. If you feel compelled to share someone else’s work, give them credit for their work. There are many applications that let you create from custom templates, use stock images, resize images/graphics (to fit any platform) and even erase backgrounds all to help your content have a unique look. Adding your practice logo to your posts also helps to brand your practice and add content originality.
Quick tip: There’s an app for that! There are several applications available from the App Store or Google Play that will allow you to easily create content and post the content directly from your iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet.
To Do or to Outsource
So far this may sound like fun and some of you may already be on the train to Social Town. For others, this may sound like a good idea and a lot of work. Well, there are options. One option is to have a trusted staff member run your social media content. Another option is to hire a pro. For a price, there are some good companies that can run your social media accounts. Some of these companies can even help with website design and hosting, which can help you create a uniform feel throughout all your social media. Which ever option you go with, don’t just hand over the keys to the kingdom. Be sure to have final say and veto power, should something not be up to your standard.
In conclusion, social media is not only good to help promote the field of endodontics, but it can likely shed some light on your practice as well. When patients seek out our services, they are likely nervous about the prospect of a root canal. How many times have we cringed at the comment that “__________ is better than a root canal”, when the reality is that endodontic treatment is usually no more exciting than a filling. A social media platform is another step towards helping change this perception and help patients save what’s worth saving… their teeth. So let’s get social and just post it!
Dr. Robert W. Heydrich is a practitioner — Edgewater Endodontics. He is one of the Save Your Tooth Month Social Media Movers & Shakers, Class of 2021. Follow his practice at @edgewater_endodontics on Instagram.