This generation of dental students will be the first to use social media as a tool for marketing and engaging with patients and dental colleagues. From AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) to MySpace, then Facebook and now Instagram and Snapchat, we have grown along with the wave of social media platforms. Unfortunately, so has our digital footprint. As we continue to move forward in our careers, we must consider our professional image and the content we shared online before dental school.
Though intended for staff and volunteers, the ADA offers some guidelines that you can use on how to present yourself using social media. Here’s a snapshot of some of these rules.
Be professional: It is important that your social media posts convey a positive, engaging attitude.
Start honing your content now to be a great representation of you and your brand. This means you might want to reconsider sharing your pictures from your post-midterm celebrations. Clean up your social media pages, getting rid of posts or photos that don’t coincide with the brand you want to portray. Start thinking: “If one of my patients saw this, would they be comfortable letting me treat them?”
Be respectful: Always demonstrate respect for others’ points of view, even when they’re not offering the same in return.
Try to avoid getting involved in heated debates online. Also, dental school is rough, but you don’t need to complain about it on social media. Making comments about patients, professors or administration is unnecessary and unprofessional. It also appears ungrateful to those students who are trying to get accepted into dental school.
Keep your personal views separate: Always consider the professional ramifications of your comments on your personal social accounts.
If you think that Facebook has turned into your friends’ forum for political issues, you may be right. But be careful with how you engage with those posts. As our generation blurs the line between work life and home life, we need to remember that comments can be seen by anyone, including your patients and professional colleagues. If you choose to accept friend requests from patients, keep this in mind.
The internet is permanent: Once you’ve published something online, even if you delete it, it could still be accessible.
No matter how much you may try, there is always a chance that someone saw or even saved something you posted and then removed. And even if no one was looking then, the internet sleuths of tomorrow could find something from your past that you shared online. The consequences could inhibit you from reaching higher positions within your career.
These points can be boiled down to one rule: Think before you post. Always filter the content you share so it is portrayed in a professional manner. Start making smart choices online now so that you are protected in the future.
~Grace Eichler, South Carolina ’20
About Grace Eichler
Grace Eichler is a member of the Medical University of South Carolina's James B. Edwards College Of Dental Medicine class of 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Her love for all things advocacy and organized, plus her track record in leadership, prompted her discovery of the opportunities ASDA gives dental students and spiked her case of #ASDAfever.