Social media is dense and ever-changing. Each platform has elements that cross over or compete with other platforms, and each one is trying to increase their reach through myriad (and often cannibalistic) means. Instagram/Facebook followed Snapchat’s lead with video stories, LinkedIn can double as a resume and a CRM, Snapchat has a news feed, Facebook let’s you sell physical items, etc.
Navigating this world, if you didn’t grow up in it, can seem daunting. However, you can learn to love the beast.
When first diving into any new system or software, it’s important to understand the purpose before we can truly iterate. As my music theory told me when we were learning 4 Part Chorale compositions, “No, this isn’t the foundation for all music. But it’s easier to break the rules if you learn them first.”
Posts should be targeting two primary audiences – Patients and Potential Referring Doctors in the medical field. Under patients, we have four primary demographics that would seek care from an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:
- Mothers of teens that will require third molar extraction.
- (Generally) older patients requiring dental implants.
- Ages 20+ seeking cosmetic surgical procedures (from both injury/reconstructive, to elective).
Due to the nature of these demographics and their frequency on social media platforms (which deteriorates at a direct correlation to age), being strategic can help maximize the effectiveness of social media marketing.
Things to consider when posting on social media as an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:
- It costs money to grow a social audience as a business. Regardless of what platform you choose to engage with your audience on if you are a business you will have to pay for your reach. Facebook has become the billion dollar business it is because of advertising. Facebook tries to maximize one thing: the amount of time that users spend on Facebook. A user is more likely to interact with content that their friends post, so if you are a business and you want your post on dental implants to be shown to Susan, instead of her kid’s soccer game photos you are going to have to pay for it. Distribution costs money. If you are a business, and you want your po
- Facebook is your best friend. This is the most widely used social media platform regardless of age, and the one best balancing “business” and “personal” use. You have more freedom to directly connect with past/present/future patients through personable posting, and also distribute offers, promotions, and other advertisements without offending.
Facebook is also a great intro for conversations and relationships with other dental professionals. But LinkedIn is the most ideal platform for professional relationships.
NOTE: Never underestimate the abilities of a social media platform! Case in point, Facebook offers a job listing option now on the market place, and LinkedIn utilizes a feed like Facebook for casual browsing and sometimes fun content. Platforms imitate each other, which can help you reach people who have strong biases in their online networking.
- Twitter is an avenue that some medical professionals have been able to gain traction, but as with most social media posting, it’s not unlike shouting into the virtual void unless you are willing to create a persona that sets you apart. If it’s organic and you feel people respond to your posting, go nuts. Otherwise, it can become a waste of everyone’s time.
- Instagram is probably the hardest platform for an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon to gain attention, primarily because it’s a platform dependent on imagery. As you can imagine, photos of the Oral and Maxillofacial trade don’t typically go viral. HOWEVER, due to the superficiality of Instagram, if you have a cosmetic tendency in your practice, you’d fit right in.
NOTE: There is a community for everything and there’s never a bad time to start a movement. Some surgeons DO post graphic surgical photos other professionals may find interesting. But if you post cutesy cartoons of anthropomorphic teeth holding toothbrushes and reminding you to “smile at one person today,” you will see a drop in following.
- LinkedIn is more professional in tone, so it’s excellent for starting conversations. Curated content, ideas you may have concerning Oral and Maxillofacial practices, previous cases, improvements you think should happen…all of these have a place on LinkedIn. And because people are expecting their connections to be thought leaders and consumers, it’s easier to get noticed. A suggestion: Have a “pick-up line” and start connecting with other professionals, especially in your area. Younger dentists mean more social media use, and if you meet them at their preferred form of communication, you could beat the competition to some much needed referral based relationships. Too often people don’t draw the connection between starting a conversation digitally and turning it into a meeting, which can turn into a lasting relationship. If patients are the fuel, dentists are the gas station. And you have to pay for gas.
Remember that social media is always changing, and some platforms may not be eternal. It’s ok to diversify and spend some time on different platforms to see how you can take advantage of their strengths (and sometimes play to their weaknesses, try something new). The more you know about a platform the better you can make a plan of action, but also find flexibility within that platforms’ ecosystem.
One last note: Social networks were designed by people to be used by people. They weren’t intended to alienate older generations, or even to create a shorter attention span. The only way a system can succeed is by maximizing users, and they will do whatever they can to stay relevant. This means that social media is very user-friendly, and easy to get started. You can choose how deep to go, but getting your feet wet shouldn’t intimidate you.