Social Media in Dentistry: Raw or Perfect, Just DeW You

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close up of smart phone with all the social media apps

Social media and dentistry? The dental profession is filled with meticulous personalities. People who like more detail than not. Fine lines drawn between black and white. Margins measuring up just so. And that’s great, right? We want our dentists and surgeons to be precision-minded when it comes to our health. Likewise, we want practice administrators to be detail-oriented as they orchestrate teams. We want insurance coordinators to accurately manage our financial statements.

Doing It Right?

So, naturally when social media emerged in dentistry, the field studied all the rules of engagement. Articles and advice about etiquette and how to do social media right became popular. I authored some of those early lessons, preaching about what you should and shouldn’t do with your businesses’ social media accounts. (And sometimes personal profiles, as well.)

I still think it’s a win anytime you can make a patient smile.

In 2008, I first presented an earlier version of my flagship social media keynote: Keys to Social Media Marketing Success. During my presentations, I discussed the etiquette of being positive. Positive content often results in more shares than other types of content. Posting images that make people smile is what I recommended for dental practices. And I still think it’s a win anytime you can make a patient smile.

Being Real is Winning Over Being Perfect

I’m not sure when the tides began to turn. Sometime between 2007, when Facebook business pages launched, and today. However being real is now winning over being perfect. While there is still power in positivity, people want authenticity of all flavors. Of course, many dental professionals still have impeccable brands, picture-perfect photos, and stellar videos. But there are also a growing number of reality-TV-like accounts.

Some of you have seen things you couldn’t imagine we’d see on professional dental business pages. Others reading this might be shocked at some things on dental business accounts: bottles of tequila staged for team drinking in a practice break room, graphic hunting photos, gory live surgeries, provocative pictures of doctors in swimsuits and much more — yes, I said business accounts. Note I’m in no way judging these pages, people, or practices. It’s just a new era.

Welcome To The Era of To Each Their Own

Today there are all sorts of authentic, messy, fun, shocking, beautiful, disgusting, delightful, hysterical, and downright gut-bustingly funny things on dentist’s professional accounts. Sure, some of the examples I mentioned may seem crazy or grotesque to me. But to others they are attractive, interesting, or perfectly acceptable. It’s this dichotomy of circumstances that makes the new world of social media so fascinating.

So what or who is responsible for the growing desire to see real versus perfect? Perhaps it’s the rise of millennials and their low tolerance for filtering. Aged approximately 18-34 years old, millennials (Gen Y) are the first generation to have never known life without technology. Gen Y-ers are also now the largest population in the U.S. So it’s easy to jump on board the millennials blame game.

But we’ve always had changing trends and evolving perspectives, haven’t we?

Social Media and the Perennials

And let’s not forget the perennials’ impact. A lesser known demographic, perennials is a newer term coined by Gina Pell, Content Chief at The What, a clever list for curious people.

Gina describes the perennials as “ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages.”

Gina further describes perennials as involved, ever-curious mentors. People who are passionate, creative, confident, and collaborative. I think the term “perennials” is more of a mindset. It’s a way of looking at people based on shared values, interests, and preferences. It doesn’t box people up in categories, place blame, or restrict people to labels based on their age.

The Smart-Phone Age

So rather than blame any specific population of people for change the change in social media, maybe we should blame our smart phones. We tend to use them less for calls and more for texting and photos.They never leave our side, and they allow us to research anything, anytime, anywhere. Smart phones have been used as tools to cut through the facade, to research, to learn the social truth, to find the real truth. I think it’s only fair to say that smart phones have whetted our appetite for raw truth today.

Whether millennials, perennials, or smart phones are most responsible for love of authentic content, the fact is that communication has changed. It’s time to DeW it. Be spontaneous. DeW you. There are already leading women in dentistry, fellow DeWers, being the best versions of themselves on social media, every day.

For example, you can often find Anastasia, America’s charming, inquisitive, and high energy dental hygienist on Facebook Live. And then there’s the impeccable Janice Hurley. Inclined to stay on point with glamour and style in her charismatic photos. Managing to look incredible even while sweating in a Cross Fit box.

No matter which social media tool is your favorite — whether you prefer photos, video or text — the time is right for women in dentistry to just “DeW you.”

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

The phrases—“like attracts like” and “your vibe attracts your tribe”—have never been more relevant. It won’t take long for you to find people you are drawn to when everyone is being more real than perfect. Some of us may have a harder time peeling back the layers. We vary in what we are comfortable showing—or not—in our public persona. Be patient with yourself.

Take comfort in knowing that you made it this far in your career without sharing every detail of your life online. At the same time begin to pay attention to who you are drawn to among your peers. A wise coach once told me, “You often admire in others the traits you possess as well.”

I look forward to seeing you all share more of your fabulous personalities in this DeW community. Flashes of brilliance, messy or fun, enlightening or intellectual, edgy or professional, raw or reserved. However you decide to DeW you on social media, cheers! Just DeW you.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Rita – what a great article! thanks for your thoughts on this-I learned a lot. Perennials-who knew?! I love it. And Anne thanks for the DeW venue. We are off to a great start!

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