13 Social Media Dos and Don’ts for the Dental Practice

  1. Do follow the rules. Just as you would behave differently at a child’s birthday party than you would at a business networking lunch, Facebook requires different etiquette than LinkedIn. If Facebook is like an open house for the practice, then LinkedIn is the gathering of collaborating physicians.
  2. Don’t forget HIPAA regulations. Here are the key things to remember: First, don’t talk about patients, even in general terms, unless you have a signed general consent form and waiver stating that you can use their case and photos in your practice marketing materials. Have your attorney draw one up for the practice, and keep them on hand at checkout to have select patients complete. Second, do talk about conditions, treatment and research. These are always safe topics in terms of HIPAA compliance.
  3. Do give your page the attention it deserves. Post at least two or three times a week to stay visible. Anytime you get a comment on a post, comment back as soon as time permits to keep the conversation going. Especially on LinkedIn, be sure to maintain a current profile. Potential patients and referrers will likely check you out online before calling, so you want them to see a complete and relevant profile.
  4. Don’t over do it. Post two or three times a week so that you are visible in patients’ and referrers’ newsfeeds, but not so much that you become a nuisance.
  5. Do give others the chance to talk. You wouldn’t monopolize a conversation offline, so be sure to follow the same social etiquette online. Visit other practice pages regularly to get a flavor for the conversations happening there then strike up conversations of your own on your page.
  6. Don’t be self-centered. Showcase patients who have signed a waiver. (See #2.) Feature cartoons and memes that reflect your practice culture. Highlight staff celebrations, like birthdays and work anniversaries. Less about you, more about them.
  7. Do keep it light. Apply the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, share general, fun and lighthearted posts that loosely reflect your practice’s values, and 20% of the time hard facts about the practice. Posts that are most often liked, commented on and shared are photos of the doctor and staff, babies or dogs (or better yet, babies with dogs), happy birthday posts (or better yet, congratulatory wedding or new baby posts) and funny images or cartoons. Think: What can I share that will make people smile and laugh?
  8. Don’t post the wrong things. Complex polls and open-ended questions require too much thinking, and long posts require too much reading. This is a social setting. Keep posts simple, straightforward and pithy.
  9. Do share plenty of images. Everyone loves seeing bright, easily readable images on social media. Having dental/health related images like these on your page will make your practice appear active, positive and current. Minimize text-only posts.
  10. Don’t be hesitant to open up the conversation. Make it possible for others to post on your page. (You can easily adjust this in your privacy settings.) Inviting others to post opens the door to your open house and invites others to be part of it. Have a personal profile on Facebook in addition to your business page to widen the circle of people with whom you engage. For even more exposure on LinkedIn, specifically, get involved in groups and discussion boards.
  11. Don’t get mixed up. Keep personal posts on personal profiles and professional posts on professional pages.
  12. Do handle any negative posts swiftly and thoroughly. Inevitably, you will get a negative social media post or comment. When it happens, behave just like you would with a disgruntled patient acting out in your waiting room. Respond publicly to the original post. A simple, “Thank you for your feedback, we will do everything we can to rectify the situation” will do. Contact the patient personally. Be calm and understanding, listening intently until the patient has exhausted all emotion about the issue. If a resolution is reached, consider asking the patient to remove the post.
  13. Do rise above it. Above all else, take the high road in social media. Behave with the ultimate decorum and it will reflect favorably on you and your practice.