Since its genesis in 1996, social media has succeeded in finding a place in the lives of more than half of the world's population (50.6 percent). In other parts of the world, like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), that figure is as high as 99 percent. In 2021, more than 3.96 trillion people have social media accounts around the world.

Considering all of this, it's not surprising that social media is now essential to the growth of any business — including dental practices. In fact, many patients today find healthcare providers, including dentists, through social media searches and browsing. This is also how many stay in touch with their current healthcare providers, including their dentists.

Let's first discuss how (and why) social media can help you build influence, attract new patients, and cultivate financial success as a dental practice owner.

Woman recording herself flossing in front of tripod camera

The power of social media

When it comes to leveling up your dental practice, social media is a powerful asset in a number of ways. That includes -

Sharing information and knowledge. Smart practice owners take the opportunity to share enriching information with audiences about dentistry and their practice. This type of communication builds trust because it provides inherent educational value while also highlighting your knowledge of dentistry and quality treatment. This will allow you to promote healthy behaviors among patients and establish your credibility.

Engaging with the public. Aside from sharing quality content related to dentistry and oral health, social media also allows you to communicate with your potential patients through surveys, Q&A sessions or interviews. This will allow you not only to educate patients but also enables you to get feedback about what matters most to them right now.

Highlighting the high quality of your work. Your social media presence allows you to show your audience what you are capable of clinically. This will allow your audience to better assess whether you're the right doctor for them and highlight your best work visually.

The value of social media for the dental practice

Can't see it clearly enough? Let's discuss the reasons your dental practice should be on social media.

Helps in attracting new patients. The fact that social media allows you to showcase your work will undoubtedly attract new patients.

Lends credibility to your practice. Your presence on social networks will be a sign for your audience that you are following the latest trends for your patients and for treatment. It helps establish credibility by sharing accurate and trusted information.

Boosts practice feedback, comments and reviews. Anyone familiar with online shopping knows the value of a well-placed comment or review. The same goes for dental treatment. Allow your patients to leave you reviews, comments and feedback through social media — this will give positive reviews more reach and influence.

An affordable marketing tool. In the past, dentists could only showcase their work and attract new patients through television interviews, newspaper or magazine articles, and billboards — which could cost a fortune. Alternatively, social media is a cost-effective way to promote your dental practice and reach prospective patients more easily while lowering marketing costs.

Man laughing looking at his phone with social media 'comment' and 'like' icons overlayed in a blue circle

The best social media platforms for dental practices

Each social media platform has specific demographics and behaviors that make it unique. It's important to understand how and why to use each platform for your practice — and how it will help you grow your patient base.

Facebook. With over 2 billion users, Facebook is a must-have platform for promoting your business. Consider utilizing Facebook's paid advertising options to get in front of new audiences and prospective patients.

Instagram. With 500 million daily active users, Instagram is a great platform to promote your practice and clinical cases. This a more visual platform where most content is consumed in images or videos, so consider this a great place to highlight dental and practice photography.

YouTube. With the benefit of visual content, YouTube is also a platform that can be used to showcase your services, but its downside is the difficulty of building a fanbase. For faster success, use it in conjunction with other social media platforms.

TikTok. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms on the market today. This platform — which mainly targets younger, Gen Z patients — allows you to showcase procedures and share dental tips via short videos. Consider the success of the Bentist, an orthodontist who has over 10 million followers on this platform.

Twitter. Twitter is an excellent platform to showcase your expertise as a dentist. This is a text-based platform, so make sure your posts are thought-provoking or eye-catching enough to catch attention.

LinkedIn. As a professional platform, LinkedIn allows you to network with other dental professionals and clinicians, which can help you grow your influence in your community.

Ideas to take your dental social media to the next level

  • Before and after posts featuring pre- and post-treatment photos of clinical cases.
  • Tutorials demonstrating oral hygiene best practices, tips, and do's and don'ts.
  • List-style tips and tricks that will help your patients maintain good oral health.
  • Q&As posts to answer your followers' real questions about oral health and your practice.
  • Limited-time content to create a sense of urgency.
  • Original content personalized with your logo, fonts, and color schemes.

Remember: Use your platforms to communicate with people, not only broadcast information. If your audience was strictly looking to read something, they would be looking for articles or books offline. Use social media to communicate with your audience in unique and interactive ways — ask and answer questions, provide advice and gain trust through regular social media posts.

So long as you continue to provide ethical, reliable, and accurate healthcare information, doing so through social media will allow you to communicate with more people and prospective patients.

Suzanna Sayegh, DDS., is a guest contributor to Spear Digest writing on behalf of Bond Street Dental.