The Digital Dental Divide

Blue bird with social media icons

© Marina Zlochin –

It’s 2012 and before you know it 2013 will be on our doorstep. But what does this have to do with anything – besides us all getting older? The fact that with the movement of time comes great advances in technology – not only in advanced tools and knowledge to improve the oral health of patients, but how dentists and others do business, market to reach customers, connect with colleagues and engage in educational opportunities.

At the beginning of the millennium, social media wasn’t on many of our radars. Yes, we had the Internet, mobile phones, text messaging and some people were making their way over to Friendster and Myspace; but social sites for businesses and the plethora of other digital conduits for communication we have available today had yet to be thought of, or were in the early infancy of design in Silicon Valley.

Today, we are able to connect and network with esteemed colleagues and partners in the dental industry on professional business sites like LinkedIn. These connections were once reserved only during industry trade events and meetings where we were physically present to have a conversation, share resources and collaborate.

Many dental professionals are taking advantage of LinkedIn to spread and share helpful content to their network. For example, I regularly post articles that I think are important for my connections to check out.

LinkedIn is becoming a powerful social tool for dental thought leaders to curate and share content. Thought leaders are leveraging the power of LinkedIn to expand their personal brands, whether it’s to secure speaking gigs, a chance to connect with a publisher or a career lift through a potential future employer.

In addition, companies and individuals have the increasing power of Twitter, the social networking and micro-blogging service, to impart resources and content to their friends, acquaintances, and current and potential customers. And it’s not only a one-way street for communication. It offers the chance to engage and receive immediate feedback, presenting a unique opportunity for users to create a digital dialogue for many to see and learn from.

Social sites aren’t only for legions of loyal advocates. Social communities present the possibility for very open criticism, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brands are able to communicate and rectify potential problems in a very transparent way – and it shows they care about their customers when they respond – whether it’s to apologize for a regrettable customer experience or provide a helping hand to find a remedy to make a customer happy. Social channels allow customers the opportunity to create personable connections in a new environment that may be more comfortable to them.

Other online social tools I’ve noticed dentists using to connect with future patients are crowd-sourced coupon providers, such as Groupon and LivingSocial. There is huge potential for making some patients a bit uneasy, but many health and cosmetic practitioners such as aesthetic offices and massage therapists are riding the “Groupon wave” to boost business and increase practice awareness. It is definitely a new arena that I’m sure some stand by; while others would be flabbergasted at the idea of offering deeply discounted services in fear of damaging their brand.

Many dentists have been quick to jump on the digital train, while others have been slower to adapt or find its importance in their practice. 3M ESPE has been pretty quick to adopt and find new ways to connect with customers to be a part of the online dental community. It’s a great way to engage with dentists, listen to feedback and ultimately be a part of the discussion on how we can help individuals live healthier and better lives.

Are you taking advantage of online tools to connect, share or boost your personal brand or business? What are your thoughts on using crowd-based coupons for dental services? Have a great online tool that you are using that I haven’t shared? Or, are you part of the digital divide that isn’t sure of its importance for dentists? Sound off below – I’d like to hear from you!


4 comments so far

  1. […] 3M Dental Insights ← 10 preguntas sobre el bruxismo jQuery(document).ready(function() { […]

  2. Howard Finnk, DDS on

    Since opening our dental practice in Fort Lauderdale, FL, we’ve been using online tools such as Google, Facebook and Groupon to build our presence in our community. I attribute a large part of our rapid growth to these media.

    Howard Finnk, DDS

    • 3M ESPE on

      Hi Dr. Finnk,
      Sorry for my late response to your post. I returned from my family vacation early this morning from Costa Rica. While I was on vacation , I couldn’t help but notice the advertising to tourists for dental services ! There is a huge “dental tourism” market – especially in the capital San Jose, but also in the north. Might have to go back so that I can get some material to blog about !
      I am pleased you are having such a good response using the online tools mentioned.
      Best regards and thank you for your post.

  3. Nha khoa on

    Thanks for your post ! Good Article !

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