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Networking or NOTworking? Using social media to benefit your practice

April 4, 2011
By Natasha V. Welsh, CDA, EFDASixty-four percent of workers admit to accessing the Internet for personal use during working hours. Seventy-seven percent of workers with a Facebook account use it during working hours. Certainly employers can block sites from being accessed, however, employers should note that 39% of employees between the ages of 18 and 24 would consider quitting their jobs over that decision! Delegation of duties and utilization of staff are the key components for incrementally increasing production on a daily basis, even with Facebook. It is possible to effectively and efficiently use social networking to enhance your practice. Instead of Facebook and Twitter thieving from your practice productivity, they can creatively help your practice thrive in today’s world of changing technologies.It is expensive to have your website continuously updated, particularly if it is done each day. Social networking is an inexpensive, even free way to keep in touch with patients, get new patients, educate your connections, market your practice, and encourage teamwork. The account you create becomes a living, breathing, evolving link between your staff, patients, and all of their connections. The average person has 130 friends. An average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups, and events. Your staff already knows how to use the social networks, therefore there is no investment in training. Also, your staff is creative, which gives them an opportunity to contribute in many ways. Employees give these reasons for wasting time at work — 24% feel underpaid, 33% lack work, and 15% feel distracted by coworkers. In lieu of accessing their personal accounts during work, have the staff enhance your practice through a business Facebook account. There are also ways to have a professional network of your peers through a set of connections ( If you have not done so, join the 500 million active users in the world. Those 24 million users in the U.S. spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.The creative aspect will reflect and market your professional profile. Use it to promote business by featuring promotions such as discounted teeth bleaching or a free paraffin treatment. Tell patients what your staff is learning. Post pictures of your staff at continuing education events. Promote new services such as CAD/CAM dentistry or Botox and Dermal Fillers ( Get interactive with your patients and ask them to send you dental photos such as the first lost tooth, new braces, or before and after veneers. Get your camera out and take before and after pictures and post, post, post! The key is focus and fun.As with anything, clear purpose and expectations must be established for your team. Set guidelines regarding how much time should be spent. Keep the information dental and practice related. Monitor the interaction and rate the success. Remember the purpose is to reflect your practice image. Include applications that further extend usefulness for marketing. Joining groups has an obvious benefit of reaching members interested in a related interest. Starting your own group ensures control and flexibility on how the group is run. Discuss guidelines that will preserve your image with your consulting company, maintain your intentions, and support your goals. Facebook has tools online to walk you through the process ( caution and common sense when using Facebook as a hiring tool. Certainly there is more information available to learn about a prospect, such as social life, habits, friendships, and photos. However, the additional information could lead to discrimination. Some information found online on these social networks would most likely not be disclosed in an appropriate interview. Obtain the candidate’s consent to review any personal social networking sites. The safest interview tools remain objective questions, a disclosure of skills, and experience. I recommend not using social networks as a recruitment tool. Have in place policies and procedures to be implemented to protect managers and hiring personnel against inadvertently gaining information that could lead to discrimination. A balanced, common sense approach remains the best practice. With the information you obtain from your own Facebook or Twitter accounts, you can stay up on the trends in your community. Remember, 18 hours a week surfing the Internet during working hours equals $759 billion total salary cost for employers, and that is $50 billion MORE than the entire 2011 U.S. Defense Budget. As they say … lead, follow, or get out of the way!
Natasha Basow-Welsh graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, EFDA Program, in 2003. She is a CDA and ODEFA, and has many professional affiliations with dental companies and manufacturers. Since 1999, Natasha has contributed to the success of a progressive cosmetic dental practice as the lead EFDA. Within this modern practice she has used the latest technologies and state-of-the-art dental equipment, including CEREC and Galileos. In 2004, Natasha began coaching dental offices on CEREC by focusing on the unique needs of each office. Her concentration is centered on the doctor. In this one-to-one “coach” style instruction, her expertise and skill help realize immediate success and accomplishment for the dental team and practice. Her course encompasses the fundamentals for predictable success for intermediate and mastery level CEREC concepts. Natasha wrote the course “Dental Assisting Outside the Box: The CEREC Assistant,” continuing education for assistants and EFDAs. She developed the course in response to the need for an increase in the proficiency of assistants and to enhance office productivity. In “Measuring the Value of Time,” published on June 29, 2009, Natasha evaluates the possibility of loosening the time constraints on the doctor and delegating duties for office efficiency. Remaining diligent in her goal to motivate peers and foster change in dentistry, Natasha has carried her message across the country and into Canada.
* “Working Hard or Hardly Working?” Statistics about workplace productivity by FB@ 4, 2011