If you're a dental service provider, you probably have at least a static website that lists your contact information and a basic explanation of your services. However, you may be wondering how to expand your dental practice using social media. If you don't engage your current patients and potential customers using blogging and social media, you're missing a key piece of the puzzle.
Compared to our international counterparts, the U.S. healthcare industry has been slow to embrace social media as a way to “improve care management, engage patients, and communicate with other doctors,” according to Ken Terry in this article from InformationWeek Healthcare.
As a health care professional, there are three main reasons that you should take advantage of social media, including a two-pronged approach to education and communication:
1) Social media participation encourages both peer-to-peer education and continuing education. It allows you to stay current, since many printed textbooks quickly become outdated. There are specific Twitter hashtags dedicated to following experts in the field and getting the latest industry information.
2) Communication between doctors and patients, as well as between doctors and the public, is easier via social media. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation circulating online and people are vulnerable, especially when they attempt to self-diagnose their medical problems without consulting a doctor. It is crucial to establish your voice as a credible resource.
While professionals using social media is nothing new, it’s especially relevant for the health care industry. The field is constantly changing, and the latest innovations and health care issues touch everyone's lives at some point.
3) Finally, you must utilize social media as a marketing tool. In addition to having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, you can also provide value by maintaining an informative website and/or blog, which you regularly promote on those social media sites. Your potential patients spend a significant amount of time researching, and they will continue to seek relevant information even after they have selected a service provider. You have a captive audience within your patient base and the general public.
A final tip: Keep your website up to date and publish informative content regularly. This will establish your reputation as an authority in the field, a go-to resource with real expertise, to counterbalance the misinformation out there.
Be sure to maintain regular communication with your patients to build trust. It can also save time answering questions in person or on the phone, which then frees up you and your staff to tackle other tasks.
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