Social Media and Legal Considerations for Dentistry



Social media change is constant. If you’re still managing your Facebook, Twitter and other platforms the same way you did last year, you are likely missing opportunities. Like many of you, I have the honor of working in the social media trenches − where we experience change firsthand. In addition, I hear questions, concerns and success stories from hundreds of seminar attendees and followers. Below is a list of hot topics, trends and updates to consider.

Facebook changes

Facebook continues to tweak their newsfeed algorithm. Some experts say, “The free lunch is over” when it comes to visibility. I don’t think there ever was a free lunch. Social media marketing requires time, effort and energy − none of which are free. With that said, now is a great time to implement strategic ad campaigns to expand the reach, shelf life and overall visibility of your posts and practice.

Formal job descriptions

If you haven’t already, assign someone in your practice to manage, or at minimum co-manage, your social media. Make social media responsibilities a part of someone’s formal job description. You simply can’t ignore the important business components related to social media, including online reputation, practice visibility and digital patient communication. See a sample social media manager for dentistry job description here.

Higher standards

A few years ago anyone with Facebook or Twitter skills was considered a candidate for social media marketing. Today, some practices are advertising for social media management positions that require college degrees. Practices that outsource should ensure they are entrusting their online persona to professionals experienced in marketing, communication and dentistry’s policies and provisions − see HIPAA and legal below.

Training

A Forbes contributor referenced social media training as “now mandatory for an ever growing range of companies.” Training, beyond basic technical and time management skills, may be a required investment for your social media manager. Training topics may include branding, reputation management, legal considerations − all of which impact the viability of your business.

War rooms, HIPAA and legal

These are powerful terms to consider. War rooms are a term used to describe social media workshops designed to avoid PR blunders. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated large companies, such as ING Bank, are paying between $15,000 and $50,000 for training on how to handle social media negativity. For a briefing related to HIPAA and legal considerations specific to dentistry see here.

While managing social media isn’t rocket science, it does require a combination of strategy, planning and ongoing education. Having the confidence you are compliant allows you to also have fun, focus on relationship building and well … be social. Use the points above as a checklist to ensure your practice is up to date and can leverage all that social media has to offer!

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