For this month’s Marketing Expert column, Shaz Memon offers a guide to help introverted dentists with their social media marketing.
The introverts among us must have been oddly conflicted by lockdown. Without the expectation of socialising, we could stay safely cosseted in our own small world. Unsociable but guilt-free, as it were.
Nor were there the pressures to come up with excuses to sidestep that reunion/distant cousin’s wedding/ageing aunt’s birthday party and so on.
Introversion, it seems, is not without its upsides.
But the world is now once again a gloriously connected place – arguably even more so.
The world of restrictions served as the mother of reinvention. Technophobes joined technophiles in the ‘Zoom boom’. They were happy to dabble in digital activity if it meant some form of human connection.
We overcame the restraints of physicality to create bonds virtually. The introvert is sitting on the side-line once again, looking for reasons not to get involved.
I have repeatedly spoken about dentistry’s relationship with social media. Now a key component of any dental marketing strategy, digital connections count. I have written a whole book dedicated to helping dentists navigate Instagram in particular.
But what if you happen to be an introvert?
How do dentists, uncomfortable with the concept of self-promotion, self-promote?
How can they overcome their reluctance to step into the limelight and park that fear of being judged and feeling exposed in order to market themselves to potential patients?
Psychoanalyst Karl Jung was the first to talk about the two personality attitudes – extraversion and introversion – in 1921. This set the framework for future discussions on the two ways of viewing life.
Of the introvert, he said: ‘His shyness and distrust of things induce hesitation, and so he always has difficulty in adapting to the external world.’
Types of introverts
But not all introverts are born equal. According to studies, there are four types:
- Social introverts – private people who prefer small gatherings (one-to-one communications especially). In larger groups, they can feel drained
- Thinking introverts – they possess creative imaginations and are good at storytelling
- Anxious introverts – unhappy at the prospect of socialising, but happier behind the scenes
- Restrained introverts – think before they act with a natural tendency to err on the side of common sense.
Plus, one I have recently encountered…
- Voice note introverts – they have an aversion to people who send voice notes and expect you to listen to them.
Qualities for social media
A common thread in the above is they have the perfect qualities for social media activity.
This means they are well placed to create thought-through and authentic social media posts that genuinely reflect the patient-clinician relationship.
They feature great story-telling, are professionally responsible and accountable and are delivered remotely – thus ticking the boxes for the introvert and engaging followers.
Introverts often have strong written communication skills, too, and also prefer their own company – a bonus for time spent on their digital dental marketing.
So flex your fingers, put on your ‘game face’ and get posting…
1. Own it
You don’t need to be like anybody else that you feel may be successful on social media. Use your own voice and be honest with yourself.
If it helps, write a post in third person and see how it sits before switching to first person. Just like you may have talked about your qualities in an interview or on a CV – this is no different.
Try out different ways of telling your story. Use humour, short face-to-camera videos, or candid distant shots if you are uncomfortable with posing for photos.
All patients want to see is the real you – and connect with you in a way they feel most comfortable. You have many patients that love something about you, all we need to do is echo what those traits are on social media. Patients already expect dentists to be great at dentistry. Many are more interested in how you will make them feel when they are browsing your social media.
Remember: you do not need to compare yourself to your extroverted colleagues to be successful on social media!
2. Do. It.
Avoid deliberation and stagnation with sharing posts.
Whilst some introverts rarely act on a whim, there is a point where that commitment needs to be made. Give it due consideration, of course, but try not to overthink it.
If your early posts are a little rough round the edges, then build on these and develop your voice and style as you progress.
Social media is supposed to be engaging, current and fun. The spotlight effect is a term used by psychologists to refer to the tendency we have to overestimate how much people notice us. Most people don’t care that much about all the details introverts are so good at overthinking about.
3. It’s marketing
Introverts are often wary of social media because it seems it is full of people shouting about themselves. Introverts like myself, struggle with self-promotion. I now advise changing the term ‘self-promotion’ to ‘reporting’ which is very different to ‘boasting’.
Patients are curious to hear about your day, life and what goes on when you leave the practice. Make ‘reporting’ your dental marketing. Promoting your dentistry may be the obvious focus for you – but, as I have said many times, patients expect your dentistry to be great and only some of your posts need to be about clinical skills.
Successful social media accounts mix up clinical posts with personable posts which show yourself in a rounded interesting light. Stay focused on the end result – treatment-curious potential patients to turn into potential leads.
Introversion comes with social stigma but it is not a flaw. Watching and assessing can be beneficial on social media platforms – you see what works and what doesn’t and you are often well placed to gauge what it is patient want to know and then deliver on that.
Introversion can also be your secret weapon – sometimes it is the quiet voices that get heard above all the ‘noise’.
When it comes to dental marketing, ‘meaningful’ rather than ‘meaningless’ wins the day.
4. It doesn’t have to be all about you
In fact, your social media activity is better if it isn’t.
We’ve all met that bore at a party who is happy to talk about themselves incessantly. It may be why introverts dislike large gatherings so much, or stay very quiet when people they meet have no problem talking about themselves for 30 minutes straight.
Your posts are no different. Make your posts about the patient and relate them back to you. They don’t necessarily need to know what you ate for dinner last night!
However, patients may love how you immerse yourself in mindful activities that help you become a better dentist.
5. Keep it real
Don’t count likes, friends are not friends and followers will not need to consider you as dental royalty. The digital dental world is not all glamour, grand designs and glowing Google reviews.
What is your USP? What stories do you have to share?
Don’t be tempted to create a persona that is miles away from the ‘real’ you. Authenticity is key and patients want the experience in the chair to reflect what they’ve seen of you online. Be open to engaging with them. Social media is not just shouting and showcasing.
Many dentists that have attended my workshops have come back to me to share that their 500 to 1,000 followers have changed their career in so many ways. A small number of engaged, loyal followers are more powerful than 10,000 followers who don’t care much about you.
6. Schedule posts
Set aside time to create and write your posts and maybe use a social media scheduler to plan ahead.
If you like, speak to a dental social media consultant who can navigate this for you. This means you don’t waste valuable time deliberating over them any more than you have to. Limit the number of accounts you look to for influence, too, so you are not overwhelmed by the variety of routes you may wish to take.
7. If needs be, hand it over to someone else
Dentists are busy people, so I get why they might look for someone else to represent them online. But just think about the consequences of this.
Again you don’t want to be misrepresented or do damage to your reputation. Do you trust them to act as your ‘voice’? Are they capable of representing your brand by posting pictures, videos, stories, and live videos that represent you and attract the relevant audience?
There are benefits to this arrangement – they may see topics to share that you are reluctant to and optimise your profile as a result. Just make sure you get sign-off before they post anything.
Hazel Woodward, of HW Digital, and I talk about this frequently – she has almost nailed the perfect dentist social-media partnership.
Catch Shaz’s previous Marketing Expert columns:
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