To really understand what’s at stake, let’s look at how the
Cecil story changed over time. First, there were the facts
of the event: An American dentist and trophy hunter paid
$54,000 to lure a beloved lion out of a national refuge in
Zimbabwe, hunted it for 40 hours, killed it, skinned it, and
beheaded it. Te news few so fast and far because it paired
two ideas: “American dentist” with “lion killer,” reinforcing
commonly held stereotypes about the profession: Dentists
charge too much for their services, and dentists enjoy
News stories are never static, and the Cecil the Lion
story developed as the weeks pressed on. First, a horde
of angry and anonymous Internet activists stormed Dr.
Palmer’s Yelp review page, reducing his ratings to one
star overnight. At the same time, Twitter exploded with
a tirade of hateful messages for Dr. Palmer. But it didn’t
end with him. Two competing ideas presented themselves
alongside the hashtag for #CeciltheLion, which was
ascendant on the site for a full two weeks after the event.
A small number of users coined #NotAllDentists to praise
their own dentists, while a far larger number shared their
dental horror stories with #WhyIHateDentists. Within a
few weeks, the Washington Post set out to investigate why
dentists earn more than other medical professionals in
many markets and what can be done about it.
Cecil didn’t go away. Year-end reports from major news
organizations like Newsweek listed Cecil as a major event
of the 2015 news cycle, and Dr. Palmer keeps popping
up in places like monologues on Te Daily Show or as a
character on Saturday Night Live.
In other words, a new generation of dental consumers,
the millennials, got the message in 2015 that dentistry
We could write a book on the worst-practice decisions
that ruined Dr. Walter Palmer’s dental practice, from the
way he cavalierly posted images of himself hunting with
his shirt of to the ill-advised and unapologetic email he
wrote to his patients in the aftermath of his trip to Africa.
But we’d rather take some lessons from Cecil and resolve
to help dentists get better at being social.
I think we can agree that as a whole, the dental industry
needs help with social media. Furthermore, we believe
that outsourcing blog posts and Facebook updates to
third parties just won’t cut it anymore as a way to connect
authentically with patients.
To fx this, we conceived of a series of e-books and helpful
digital products that put the power of social media back
into the dentist’s hands. We started two months after
the Cecil controversy with Te Social Dentist’s Guide to
Blogging: How to Market Your Practice, Win Lifetime Patients
and Change the World Trough Your Dental Blog. We found
that existing social media books could only take dentists so
far in their social practices. In this frst book, we set out to
teach dentists and their staf members how to conceive of
a dental blog like a magazine that readers can’t put down.
We followed a month later with Te Social Dentist’s
Guide to LinkedIn: How to Connect with Professionals,
Establish Your Authority, Build Your Dental Practice and
Gain the Trust of Your Patients. Now it’s 2016, and here’s our
resolution: We’re writing the ultimate guide to creating
content for your practice Facebook page—not just a
“how-to-post-an-update” article. We want to demonstrate
how to create content that actively shapes your business.
Meanwhile, we’ve been creating additional resources to
help make social media easier for dentists, like an annual
blog planner, a blog-post promotion checklist, and a
questionnaire for identifying who among your staf should
manage which social media accounts.
If you you’re not telling the story of your dental practice
and shaping how your patients feel about you, someone
else will do it for you—in a review, in a tweet, or in a
Facebook comment. We invite you to resolve to become a
social dentist in 2016. Ensure that 2016 becomes the year
Emily Grosvenor Diesburg is a magazine
writer in McMinnville, Oregon, and
cocreator of The Social Dentist books with
Adam Diesburg, DDS.
I THINK WE CAN AGREE THAT AS A WHOLE,
THE DENTAL INDUSTRY NEEDS HELP WITH
SOCIAL MEDIA. FURTHERMORE, WE BELIEVE
THAT OUTSOURCING BLOG POSTS AND
FACEBOOK UPDATES TO THIRD PARTIES
JUST WON’T CUT IT ANYMORE AS A WAY TO
CONNECT AUTHENTICALLY WITH PATIENTS.