Breaking The Dentists’ “Fourth Wall”

There’s a phrase from live theater and film: breaking the fourth wall. It refers to directly addressing the audience, breaking through the imaginary fourth wall between the actors and the audience that maintains the illusion of the play’s or movie’s fictional reality.

It might surprise you to learn that for decades, dentists have obeyed their own fourth wall when it came to promoting their practices. They were the highly educated, skilled professionals who maintained a distance from their prospective patients by only using a Yellow Pages ad, the occasional postcard, and signage on the practice. 

The fourth wall was shattered forever with the advent of social media. Today, dentists who don’t get real with their patients and prospects will steadily lose out to the practices that engage with their markets.

The Name Of The Game Is Engagement

It’s become a much more personal online world in the last decade. People of all stripes expect to interact freely with businesses and even with healthcare professionals. They expect answers to their questions. They expect to learn more about the person behind the brand. And they require reasons to choose one dentist over another. 

You might never have dreamed that social media is a must-do for growth-minded dentists, but it’s today’s reality. The practices that do social media well – engage with their patients and prospects – will thrive, while those that don’t will sink. 

But social media, done right, is aptly described as a “time suck.” It’s not enough to post something once in a while on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The practice also needs to respond quickly and appropriately to comments and questions on social media platforms including review sites.

Think of engagement as an ongoing conversation; if one party doesn’t reply for days, the conversation dies.

Busy dental practices often find it difficult to maintain engagement because they’re occupied with the thousand and one things involved in running the practice and solving patients’ dental problems. That leads to hit-or-miss engagement – better than nothing, but not what you need.

If you don’t routinely and appropriately break the fourth wall, your prospects will look elsewhere for a dentist. Dental patients today have access to more information and more options than ever before. They simply won’t devote the time and effort to find out more about a dentist who they view as refusing to engage.

Put Your Social Media On Autopilot

Short of hiring a dedicated team member to handle your social media presence, the best approach for busy practices is to outsource the whole business. There are a number of advantages: a dedicated professional will more conversant with the best engage strategies; he or she will typically be able to respond much faster than your team would; and you can get on with making money.

If you’d like to see one such approach – one that offers the choice of your practice creating and maintaining your social media presence, or having the whole thing done for you, wander over to the Practice Resources/Products “Products” section of our website. Click on “BUZZ” and prepare to be amazed.