Month: December 2014

Social Media for Dentists: Keep It Legal, Keep It Ethical

As a professional in the dental community exploring the opportunities and insights presented by social media, you must understand that social media usage carries risks, too. Not that you haven’t always honored legal and ethical considerations for marketing your practice, but the need for transparency is even greater with social media. When we design websites and develop social media marketing strategies, we focus on five critical areas.

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

Bad reviews happen to even the gentlest, friendliest, most brilliant dentists. Sometimes the complaint is valid, sometimes it’s nothing short of outrageous. Heck, sometimes it’s not even a review of your office—just ask any Dr. John Smith, DDS. If you respond to negative reviews, keep two things in mind. One, everyone will see your response. Everyone. Whether a negative claim is true or not is not immediately relevant.

A combative, insulting, accusatory response can derail your reputation online and offline.

Patients are generally lenient when reading others’ reviews. Most are rational enough to differentiate between a legitimate complaint and a nitpicker. You can acknowledge positive or negative reviews, but be mindful of potential HIPAA violations. Keep it general and empathetic, no names or treatment specifics. A touch of gratitude doesn’t hurt, either.

Don’t Forget the Permission Slips

When we design websites and blogs, our clients often request that we use photographs of their actual patients. Compare to a stock photo, it’s hard to deny the impact of a real-life “before and after” shot, and it’s an awesome way to show off your handiwork. Even so, using patients’ info or images without their consent can land you in serious trouble. Informed consent goes hand in hand with HIPAA and applies to full names, x-rays, photographs, and videos

Oh No, He Did NOT Just Post That

Doing business in the fishbowl of social media essentially means that everyone sees everything in real-time. An online lapse in judgment goes a long way, especially in the age of the screenshot. It’s okay to adopt an online “persona” for your practice, something to create a distinctive voice that speaks directly to your target market. It’s not okay if that persona is the type to share bikini and beer pong pics and suggestive or profane language. Leave religion and politics out of it, too.

A Little Privacy, Please

Some social media websites—I’m looking at you, Facebook—insist on implementing confusing new features and requirements that affect the way you share content and with whom you share it. Social media is dynamic, and you must be, too. The MDPM team works hard to keep abreast of privacy changes and how they affect your professional social media strategy, but it’s up to you to ensure that your separate, personal profile respects these guidelines as well.

It Takes a Village

You might very well be the most social media-savvy dentist in the land, but it counts for nothing if the receptionist is abusing social media in the name of your practice. Creating a clear, comprehensive social media policy protects your patients, your practice, and your privacy. Your policy should include considerations for HIPAA, blogging, personal social media use, and a list of each employee’s responsibility as it relates to social media and online reputation management. Periodically update your policy to reflect regulatory guidelines and/or new social media formats, and have each staff member sign an acknowledgement of the policy.

Be social. Be smart. CEO Jill Nastasia works closely with dental clients to bring their unique vision and voice online. She’s something of a social media ninja and wouldn’t dream of posting bikini and beer pong pics. Questions about social media, blogging, or SEO for dentists? Call Jill at 972-781-8861, or email her here.

Dentistry Gets Personal: Three Ways to Create a Personal Brand

There’s a popular misconception out there that a brand is nothing more than a name, slogan, and look. True, these are important components of branding, but they’re also hugely impersonal. The personal aspects of your brand, which stem from your energy, commitment, and talent, are equally important and significantly more potent in an industry where relationship-building is key.

A Strong Personal Brand Has Visual Impact

Start with an amped-up physical presence, which extends to anything that a would-be patient can see. Examples would include everything from your personal attire to your office’s marketing collateral. Think business cards, brochures, blogs, and your website. I recently read about a dentist who was one of a select few in the state to provide a certain cosmetic treatment. His chief complaint was that another dentist, whose office was more than an hour away from his, was gobbling up the biggest portion of the local market. He was absolutely baffled and unable to understand why his superior training and experience counted for naught in the eyes of his target market.

The problem? His website. Was. Awful. The information was dated and lacked any sort of personality, and his social media presence was non-existent. When asked why he hadn’t invested more in creating an online presence, he haughtily responded that he had been practicing dentistry for more than 30 years, and never had his patients expressed a desire to see a better website, or any website at all for that matter. Think about that timeline.

This is one of the most common shortcomings in dental websites, the idea that the only things patients expect and require of a website is contact information and a smattering of stock photos. Mind you, both of those things are necessary, although prospective patients often award bonus points for using real-life patients’ images instead of generic images. Your website and blog should be imbued with the distinctive qualities and personal appeal that you value so highly in building patient relationships.

Add Intellectual Appeal and Clear Messaging

Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself wowed by a drug rep who used an elevator pitch to sell you on the latest overpriced antibiotic. Oh, it’s great and it tastes yummy? That’s nice, but what benefits does it offer your patients? Is it safe? How well is it tolerated in special populations? Your patients might not necessarily want a full-blown clinical discussion of root canal therapy outcomes in lab rats, but that doesn’t mean they want vague non-answers to important questions about the procedure.

What’s more, they don’t want the exact same responses that they’ll find on other dentists’ websites. A few things to consider when developing website content:

  • Do you offer any proprietary procedures or services that set your dental practice apart from others?
  • Do you have a unique branding proposition that explains how you do what you do, rather than just what you do?
  • Do you take a certain view or apply your own vision to dentistry? For example, are you a proponent of holistic or functional dentistry? Do you use “green” products and technology?

Create Lasting Impact

This is easily the most commonly overlooked component of a strong personal brand. It’s a distillation of all those positive patient reviews and the reason why you do what you do. Think about how your patients have described you and your team. Have they used specific phrases and words that stand out from the generic nice? Even friendly is an improvement. Focus on the steps you can take to benefit patients in ways that aren’t necessarily oral health-specific. How have you enriched their lives and the lives of those whom they cherish most?

About the author: Jill Nastasia, CEO and Director of Business Development at MDPM Consulting, is a mother, dental junkie, and firm believer in the value of vision in marketing. To learn more about our services, or to speak with Jill, call her at 972-781-8861. You can also email her at