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Simple social media

March 1, 2011
Looking at the title of this article, many of you will probably think that it's another article about Facebook or Twitter.

by Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: simple social media, patient interaction, personal interaction, Dr. Louis Malcmacher.

Looking at the title of this article, many of you will probably think that it's another article about Facebook or Twitter. It is not. I'm going to talk about a more basic social media experience. Social media does not just occur on the Internet – it also occurs in your office every single day right in front of your patients. This personal interaction is just as important as any Internet social media, and probably even more so since you interface with real live people every single day.

The point of social media is to connect and interact with your patients. There are a number of ways you can do this, but I am going to give you one surefire and simple method all of you can partake of immediately. Your patients want to know more about you.

Yes, they know you are a dentist, but that's about it. The social media that I'm talking about is a simple and effective way for your patients to instantly connect with you. It gives you an opening to find some similar ground to build a connection that could result in a lifelong relationship.

Doctors love to have a private office, and many times they will fill that office with all sorts of personal knickknacks, memorabilia, family photos, and diplomas. How about putting those items in the reception area or on operatory walls? Let your patients know you're a family person. That instantly gives patients something to talk to you about to start establishing a connection. If you love golf, I'm guessing there are lots of golfers in your office who would love to talk golf. Your private office is the last place patients will see these things, so put them in a place where people can see them.

Have you won any awards? Do you have any thank you letters that refer, for example, to your visit to a local kindergarten class to teach about teeth? Do you have a certificate that shows that you have taken CPR? How about that nice letter from a local charity thanking you for your donations? These things should not be in a file somewhere, but should be up on a wall so that your patients can connect with you instantly.

Now let's get to professional designations. Your diploma is mounted on a beautiful plaque somewhere. Dig it out and get it up on a wall where people can see it. Are you a member of the American Dental Association? How about the Academy of General Dentistry? They both award nice membership certificates – get them up on the wall!

Have you attended any prestigious dental academies such as the Academy of Laser Dentistry, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, or the American Academy of Facial Esthetics? Patients react very favorably to seeing all of these professional designations, whether it's one or 10 of them. This lets patients know that you have been recognized as a member and are connected to a national dental organization, which makes them feel more confident in your ability to treat them.

Dentists have always been involved in continuing education, so if you have a fellowship in general dentistry, implant dentistry, laser dentistry, or facial esthetics, this shows patients a certain level of commitment that sets you apart from other dentists.

But this only works if patients know about it. It does not work when these awards are tucked behind a filing cabinet. You and I both notice these things when we're the patients. The dermatologist I go to annually is part of every professional dermatological society, and that's one of the reasons I chose him. Professional designations are powerful tools that are underused by most dentists.

True social media begins when you connect with patients while they are actually in your office. Let them get to know you as a person and as someone with professional accomplishments. This requires no Internet skills at all. The only thing you have to do is hang pictures on your reception area or operatory walls.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for CLINICIANS REPORT, Dr. Malcmacher is the president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics at facialesthetics.org. Contact him at (440) 892-1810 or e-mail [email protected]. His Web site is www.commonsensedentistry.com, where you can sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.

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