Social media is a terrific equalizer, says Dr. Jason Auerbach, who found online fame as Bloody Tooth Guy. Share who you are and what your practice is really about, and you’ll be sure to stand out.

Define your audience.
Patients don’t want to see clinical posts, and clinicians don’t care about your new-patient introductory offer. Decide who you are and who you want your audience to be. You might need separate presences, or you’ll end up sacrificing on both sides.

Establish a genuine tone.
Trying too hard is obvious, especially when it comes to younger patients who grew up with social media and have a sixth sense about inauthenticity. It takes time—you have to earn it. Be patient, but be consistently true to who you are.

Always make your outreach a two-way conversation.
Social media isn’t about take, take, take. If you want your followers to be truly engaged, then you have to be open to comments and feedback, and willing to respond. My attitude with Bloody Tooth Guy has always been “ask me anything.” I’m no better or smarter than anyone else, and I’m certainly not above criticism.

Don’t think social media will fix your practice problems.
We all know people on social media who pose as more adventurous or richer or better-traveled than they really are. It’s easy to spot. Likewise, if you position your practice as something it isn’t, patients will notice the disconnect as soon as they get to their appointment. That breeds distrust and could ultimately do more harm than good for your practice.

Think twice before paying a marketing firm to “be” you.
It amazes me when I see how many practices waste money on bad social media marketing. You can spot the same generic posts over and over again wishing patients a happy Thanksgiving or reminding their kids to brush after eating Halloween candy. They get likes and shares, but do nothing to differentiate your practice. At a time when fewer patients are automatically choosing their neighborhood dentist and are willing to travel far distances to doctors they really like, it’s important to distinguish yourself.

Be realistic.
No one follows a dentist on social media with even close to the same enthusiasm as they would follow an athlete or a rock star. Even with multiple locations, my practice’s social media presence is a fraction of Bloody Tooth Guy’s. If you can share a slice of who you are personally and what your practice is really about, you have a good shot at standing out. Be amazing, even if your audience is small. Social media is a great equalizer in the sense that status or titles mean nothing if the content is bad. Be you, be real, and the love will follow.

Trying too hard is obvious, especially when it comes to younger patients who grew up with social media.

DR. JASON AUERBACH founded Riverside Oral Surgery in 2007. Follow him on Instagram @BloodyToothGuy; his practice is @RiversideOralSurgery.