twitterTwitter is one of the most popular social media platforms today with more than 288 million monthly active users.

Commonly referred to as a "micro-blog," Twitter allows anybody to tweet a brief message in 140 characters or less in the world of social media; beaming information to the laptops, cell phones and tablets of their followers.

Although a good portion of tweeters use it as a way to personally express themselves, dentists can really play up their practice with the professional aspects of this social media tool.

However, there are certain guidelines dentists should follow in order to remain professional in their social media ventures.

Follow these Twitter rules to help grow your practice online and increase your patient load.


1. Humanize your account. Whether you choose to personally handle your practice's account or to hand the duties off to a staff member, it's really important to converse with your audience rather than just pump out self-promotional messages. Your patients and colleagues want to imagine a person responding – not a robot. It's also helpful to create a good bio that clearly states who you and what your practice's mission is.

2. Use #hashtags. A hashtag is a keyword that is accompanied by a # to help streamline who is more prone to see a specific tweet. It's always helpful to hashtag the city of your practice and your industry to reach current and prospective patients. For example, if you're a Seattle dentist and having whitening special this Saturday, an effective tweet would go a little something like this: "@YourDentalPractice: "We are offering 30 percent off whitening this Saturday. Call to make an appointment! #dentist #Seattle." Adding the hashtags categorizes your tweet and anybody clicking on #Seattle or #dentist is more likely to see your tweet.

3. RT (re-tweet) related content. If you see something interesting and professional on the account of a colleague, patient or another source, go ahead and RT it. It doesn't need to be serious all the time; a goofy picture of a dog wearing dentures in a great way to break up your tweets if you've been ADA article heavy lately. This will undoubtedly benefit your practice by encouraging those you RT to RT you as well, pushing your message out to an even bigger audience.


1. Express personal beliefs. Everybody knows that topics like politics and religion can set people off in a matter of seconds. For instance, your stance on global warming may be vastly different from a good portion of your patients; you risk offending them and losing their business. If you really feel the need to voice your opinions on these matters, consider creating a personal account and using that as your outlet.

2. Talk about patients. This may seem like a really obvious rule, but it happens more than you think. Even something as innocent as following up with your patient about the treatment they received last week is a violation of HIPAA. It is never acceptable to release patient information even if it is in a caring manner – especially on a platform like Twitter. Even if your patient initiates a tweet with personal information about themselves, it's always best to respond to them offline to maintain professionalism. Another one that doesn't happen as often is complaining about a patient - but it does happen. Most dentists have that patient that is more unique than others (if you catch my drift); but that doesn't give you the right to blast them on Twitter.

Even if that patient isn't following you, there's a chance one of their acquaintances does and your comment will eventually get back to them. Not only is this is botched professionalism at its finest, it's possible that current patients may leave because of this and prospective patients won't even give you chance because of the fear you may complain about them as well.

Denise Prichard is the Editor for Spear Education.

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