The Importance of Social Media & An Online Presence for Dental Offices

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Having a presence on social media and an updated website is now more important than ever, including in dentistry. Many patients, especially younger generations, prefer getting their information online through Google searches and social media platforms. Many patients even prefer to confirm their dental appointments by text or email.

Facebook launched over a decade ago, with its original goal being to connect students to their peers at Harvard University. It’s safe to say Facebook went far beyond Harvard University. Facebook was one of the first social media platforms that changed how we communicated and opened the door to a new technology era. Where everyone has their personal profiles to share information, shouldn’t dental offices have a presence on Facebook too?

It is important to understand the differences between a personal profile versus a page. A personal Facebook profile is just that, a personal representation of an individual. According to Facebook rules, a person can have only one profile. Otherwise, Facebook can delete profiles. It is also against Facebook rules and terms of service to use a Facebook profile for a business. In summary, a dental office should have a “page,” not a “profile.” Further, if you have a “personal” profile and a “professional” profile, the professional profile should be converted to a “page.”

So what material should you put on a website compared to a social media account like Facebook or Instagram? There should be some differences.

Being Relevant on Social Media Outlets

Nowadays there are tons of choices for social media outlets. In my opinion, the “Big Four” are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  Facebook is one of the most common and popular outlets many businesses of all types use to connect with customers and patients. It’s also a great way to inform patients on news of the office like updated office hours, closings, and treatment specials. Patients will be able to see reviews of others as well. This is also the place you can include not only dental education but more casual content, like dental jokes and photos. Of course, a dental office page shouldn’t be filled with selfies and personal views but should be professional, educational, and friendly.

Instagram is more of a visual type of social media outlet. You connect with others by posting photos, and your “friends” or followers can like or comment on them. Like other social media platforms, the only downfall is you need to build your follower base.

Personally, I am working with my office to decide which material should be included on our website compared to our Facebook page. Both the website and social media accounts should have accurate contact information (such as a phone number, email, address) and office hours. The name of the practice, services you provide, and any other information/treatments that make your office stand out from others should be very clear.

Perfecting the Website

When it comes to a dental office website, this is more a professional outlet. Information should be organized nicely, and the layout should be easy to navigate through. Using tabs on a website can also help organize your services.

It is important to introduce patients to the dental office’s staff; this can be done using an “About the office” tab. This is especially important for new patients visiting your website and those who might be looking for a new dental office. I believe, not only should there be descriptions or bios for the doctors, but also the hygienists, assistants, and the administration team. Many office websites only have a bio for the doctor(s), if there are any bios at all; this is a big mistake because it poses the risk of coming across as if the team around the doctor don’t matter. All team members should be included on an office’s website because they are key to the office’s success, and patients may feel more welcomed if they have a bit of familiarity when walking in.

Photos are a great tool to introduce the office to patients. Photos of the building are helpful so new patients will not be anxious when they are driving to their first appointment because of the unknown. Photos of the operatories give the patient an idea on their new dental home. Most importantly, photos of your dental team should be included with their bios. For many, it’s nice to have a face to name. It makes the experience more personal and possibly less scary for patients who may be anxious about coming in.

All material posted to either your social media pages or professional website is a representation of you, the office, and practice. It is crucial to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors, as these errors can seem unprofessional. Patients and even possible future employees will judge everything your website portrays. For me, before I apply to dental hygiene job listings, I check out offices’ social media presence and websites. I like to see the doctors, dental team, and appearance of the office. I ask myself, “Can I picture myself here?” The same goes for patients.

With anything, you must put in the work and effort. You need to invest some time and figure out how you and your practice/office want to be viewed. What is the message you want to get across? What kind of practice and dental team are you? Which social media outlets will work the best for you? Social media and websites are here to stay, so why not use it to your advantage.

SEE ALSO: Using Social Media to Advance Your Dental Hygiene Career

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Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA
Since a very young age, Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA, has always wanted to be a dental hygienist. She was the youngest student to graduate from her dental hygiene class in 2017. Since then, Kate has returned for her bachelor's and master's degrees. She is a faculty member at her local dental hygiene school and a clinical dental hygienist. Kate has been a part of Today's RDH since its launch. She is extremely passionate about homecare, loves her prophy paste and fluoride varnish, and enjoys attending professional conferences. In addition, Kate loves to work with a local non-profit organization that helps fight against hygiene insecurity of all ages in her community. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys being as involved as possible in the dental hygiene profession. When Kate isn't working, she enjoys traveling, sports, watching movies, and spending time with her amazing, supportive family.