A Case for Social Media

Recently I have been seeing a lot of Facebook backlash from dentists.  They are unhappy with the new privacy policies (which will be changing for the better).   These dentists are often focusing on the personal aspect of Facebook and other social media outlets without seeing the grander picture.  Social media is one of the fastest ways to communicate with a large group who are actively engaging with each other.  The communication is in real time and it is powerful.

Take for example the recent bills that affected dentists in Virginia.  Bills HB1263 and SB 622 came up for vote in the Virginia legislature.  The bills prevented insurance companies from dictating the price of non-covered dental procedures.  So in essence, the dental insurance companies could tell the dentists what they could charge for services that did not fall in their plan.  This could be a real detriment to the practice of dentistry and cost dentists thousands?  The Virginia Dental Association sent out a letter and informed the dentists in the area, but what they did next really showed the power of social media.  

The VDA, which also has a Facebook fan page reached out to its fans to make sure the bill passed.  They sent out daily updates, and links to email addresses for state senators and representatives.  They took the time to explain what the bill was and how it would affect dentists in the area.  The discussion it created allowed other dentists to express their concerns and communicate to their community.  It was a grassroots campaign with a twist.  Letters and calls will get the message out, but a social media gathering will allow a group of similar mind to share information like never before.  A link to a Senator's email address will make it much easier to find and access, therefore making the call to action much more possible.  Constant updates are the rallying cry for the cause, keeping everyone moving towards the goal.  In the end, many dentists knew about the bill and passed on the message to many other dentists.  Many of these dentists were young dentists like myself, and probably would never have become involved in the process.

On the day of the vote my friend, who works at the state capitol, messaged me and said "This place is crawling with dentists!  What is going on?".  I told him about the bill, and he was very impressed at the dental turnout.  The bill eventually passed, but similar bills are heading to many other state legislatures.  Facebook and other social media outlets can be used to spread the message to other dentists in your area, and unite all of you towards a common cause.  Social media may have a hiccup along the way, but don't be so quick to discount its power when your livelihood depends on it.

Jason T. Lipscomb is a general dentist in Richmond, VA and a co-author of Social Media for Dentists.  Dr. Lipscomb has developed the methods used by Social Media for Dentists after several years of private practice.  He maintains a unique perspective on dental marketing by operating two busy practices and researching social media practices.  Social Media for Dentists is one of the only dental specific Social Media marketing books.  Social Media for Dentists L.L.C. offers hands on training to dentists all over the country.

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