The Wall Street Journal is one of the most influential media sources and has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the country, with more than two million subscribers. Teen idol Justin Bieber shares his thoughts on Twitter. He has more than 39 million followers.

Of course they each are reaching their own specific audience. But nobody can deny that Bieber has leveraged the immediacy and community-building possibilities of social media in a very powerful way. He updates his social media accounts several times a day, posting 17,000 tweets in just four years to an audience of loyal readers. As a result, he has an enormous amount of influence—at least with a certain demographic.

So what does this demonstration of the power of social media mean for dentistry? Fortunately, you can’t buy dental care on Amazon, so patients will always have to come see you in person, and that face to face interaction gives you an opportunity that social media still can’t begin to duplicate. You can influence people directly through your clinical framework and your value framework, which includes your facility, team, presentation skills and the experience you provide. Dentistry still provides the best model for developing meaningful relationships with the people you serve.

At the same time you can tap into the social media engine by using it yourself and being aware of the “six-degrees-of separation” possibilities. In other words, if you create the right experience that gets patients tweeting and posting on Facebook about your practice, you can very quickly spread your brand. Unless you have Justin Bieber for a patient, the word is not going to go out to 39 million people instantly. But even if the average patient reaches just 50 or 60 people in their social media universe, multiply that by a thousand patients and you begin to see how you can turbo-charge the invitation process.



Commenter's Profile Image Muna Strasser
May 15th, 2013
It's funny that so many of us health care professionals have a hard time branding ourselves in the market because we fear it will be viewed as less than in the interest of patients' health, but your thoughts are so true! It's amazing what ripple effect is created in cyberspace because of a good deed, or a good post by someone. Gone are the days when it was enough to just be good at what you did, and have the patients' best interest at heart. The interest has to remain with the patient, but people need to know who we are and what we value. Social media is it!
Commenter's Profile Image Pamela Waterman (@BracesFriendly)
May 15th, 2013
I think anytime we can share information that helps lead to a better life via better oral health, it's a win-win for patients and professionals. If it takes social media to do so in today's world, go for it. It's just another variation on chatting over the back fence or talking by the water cooler. Thanks for the reminder.