Are you concerned about staying safe when using social media? Jan Clarke attempts to clear up the confusion.

Recently I was invited to speak to the vocational dental practitioners in the south east of Scotland region.

I had been asked to talk about all aspects of social media, including keeping yourself safe within the social media world.

The GDC released guidance in 2016, on how registrants should use social media – this is available on its website. For most of us the guidance is fairly common sense and very much related to patient confidentiality.

Security

The average age in the room was 24 and when I asked them, all had been active on social media since they were around 12 years of age. Interestingly that is longer usage than some of us who are working within this field now. This generation are used to social media being an everyday part of their lives. I was quite surprised then at the level of trust they have and how many of them seemed to have quite open social media profiles.

Is this sensible or leaving you open to criticism from the GDC or other bodies?

No one can argue that dental professionals don’t deserve a life and that life may include socialising with friends, doing daft things and posting pictures, but I would argue a dental professional needs an element of security and privacy.

There are celebratory dentists such as Bill Dorfman in the USA, whose whole ‘why?’ revolves around openness in social media. He’s even been a model for a glossy magazine, so does our privacy really matter?

Maybe not, and perhaps if your market is celebrities and all that comes with that, then go ahead. I would say though, that for most young dentists starting out it is probably better to be more private.

  • Increase your security so only your friends can see your private snaps
  • Only accept friend requests from people you actually know
  • Don’t accept friend requests from patients on your personal platforms
  • Keep an eye on your security settings on a regular basis.

But what about social media for your business?

Regardless of what you think about social media, there is no doubt about its importance for businesses. It is a way to:

  • Connect with your patients
  • Introduce your team and services
  • Educate and inform and use education-based marketing at its best
  • Create interest within your team.

Should we be concerned about the GDC guidance?

Everyone who is involved in your business’s social media channels needs to understand the nuances of the GDC guidance, particularly regarding confidentiality. There have been cases brought before the GDC that have usually involved dental nurses and one case led to a dental hygienist being removed from the register for misconduct relating to a post on social media.

So how do wekeep safe?

  • Ensure whoever is running your social media channels is well trained
  • Ensure you have access to your social media channels as well
  • Ensure you know who is managing your reputation and that they understand your business value proposition.

Social media is here to stay and can help build your business and reputation, so get out there and give it a try, but maybe let someone hold your hand in the first instance.

A good social media strategy can deliver engaged patients to your practice as well as engaging your dental team. Why not give it a try and get social?