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Becoming One of Instagram’s Most Prominent Dentists

Dr. Slaine McGrath shares her social media marketing approach to dentistry.

4 February, 2022
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The talented cosmetic dentist Dr. Slaine McGrath who landed a job at a top Harley Street clinic just two years after graduating joined the Dental Leader Podcast in talking about becoming one of Instagram’s most prominent dentists.

Prav Solanki: Slaine, is it during your time in Harley Street clinic that you started your marketing and sort of generating your own patients or was that later?

Dr. Slaine McGrath: No, that was a little bit later. I started working in Harley Street Clinic in 2015 but it was around 2018 when I started my social media marketing. It started with a nurse [Kerry] who was working with me in Ruh Dental. She was Andy McLean’s nurse and she had pretty much started Andy’s Instagram for him. Andy was someone who was saying, “What is this Instagram thing?” and Kerry was pushing saying, “You’ve got to do this. It’s an amazing way of marketing.” And then his career just took off, and rightly so, because he’s an incredible dentist and has a lot of work to show for himself.

But I think Kerry helped grow that for him and with him. She started saying it to me as well, “You’ve got to start Instagram.” I was quite nervous about putting my work out there. At the time, I was very much doing general dentistry, I’d maybe done one or two cosmetic cases and looking back, they’re not great. I was quite nervous about the criticism that I would get from posting pictures of teeth online and the fact that most of my followers were just my friends and they’d be like, “What are you doing posting pictures of teeth?”

It is all to do with how you handle and manage your patients and how you speak to your patients

I caved eventually, Kerry helped me build my Instagram profile and it was quick the way it grew. I think at the time, there wasn’t a huge amount of people doing social media marketing. Now, I think that space itself is quite competitive because there’s an awful lot of people doing it but at the time it was quite easy to build.

The more you post, the more patients you get and the bigger the portfolio you can build, which was my struggle at the beginning as I didn’t really have enough cases to post. That is why I was reposting the same stuff over and over and over. But the more you post, the more you get people coming in and then the more pictures you can post.

Payman Langroudi: We’ve got to give credit to Kerry publicly here because as you say, she helped. She helped Andy, she helped you and then she developed our social media as well. Kerry did Enlighten’s Instagram at the beginning when we were nowhere, and it worked for us too.

What advice do you give to someone starting social media marketing? Because Enlighten has these Mini Smile Makeover events, and we talk to the dentist there and ask, “Who’s got an Instagram for dentist account?” Very few do. What’s your advice to someone who’s worried about starting? The things that I think people worry about is (a) “What’s my aunt going to think?” and (b) “What are other dentists going to think?” How did you get over that?

Dr. Slaine McGrath: I think the people close to you are the people who are going to support you. And you always must remember that you have family and friends who are going to support you in it. I think the harshest criticism come from other dentists. As long as you’re confident in what you have posted and you feel like you have done your best for that patient, then it’s very hard for somebody to criticise it.

They can say, “Okay, that line angle is not perfect.” But so what? Because it’s a learning curve for all of us. As long as you know that you’re not posting a case of a young 18-year-old who needed ortho and you put in 20 porcelain veneers, you know you’re posting your best work, then what? What’s the concern? Somebody can criticise that it’s not perfect, but you know, nobody’s perfect.

The more you post, the more patients you get and the bigger the portfolio you can build

Payman Langroudi: I remember when you spoke for us at The Minimalist, I remember you addressed this point by showing photos of other dentists work and you said, “Look, I was seeing Dr. Duval’s work and Dr. Apa’s work and thinking, I’m not anywhere near as good as them.” But then you showed these other cases that were getting loads of love, and we could all tell they weren’t the best cases. And in a way, maybe that was when you thought, “Well, I can do this too if these people are getting love.”

Dr. Slaine McGrath: Totally. Those are the cases with the horribly inflamed gingivae calculus everywhere. And they’ve extracted teeth to put veneers on rather than orthodontics and people are still like, “This looks great.” And you’re like, “Well, in whose eyes?”

As long as you’re confident in what you have posted and you feel like you have done your best for that patient, then it’s very hard for somebody to criticise it.

My advice is just start because I felt that exact same way when I was starting; I thought, I’m going to get so much criticism but as long as you’re posting your best work and you’re doing right by the patient, you’ll be surprised at how little criticism you do get.

And when you do get it, I guess it’s either totally ignoring it and not letting it affect you, or it’s managing it correctly and not starting an argument with somebody just to justify your point. People are going to be out there to troll you and to criticise you because they always are.

I was quite nervous about the criticism that I would get from posting pictures of teeth online.

Prav Solanki: Are there any tips or hints when you are communicating with patients through social media? You’ve mentioned how you’d send a voicemail as a reply/response to a patient which is good because your voice is faster than your fingers, so it saves you a bit of time but it’s a bit more personalised as well. Is there anything that you can share in terms of just engaging with them and I guess triggering a conversation and engagement, what would you advise?

Dr. Slaine McGrath: I think that really would depend on the type of social media page that you have. For me on my Instagram, it’s predominantly based around work and the whole purpose behind it is just to bring patients into the chair. I have no interest in being an influencer. I have no interest in pictures of me or my family or anything else but I am very aware that patients buy into you as a person not as a dentistry.

Now that obviously works differently for everybody because take Dr. Andy McLean, for example, with Instagram, I don’t think there is a single photo of him on it. Or if it is, it’s him in the corner of the clinic somewhere. It’s very much just about teeth and his before and after pictures are so amazing that that’s great and it works that way for him.

For me, I think I have a slightly more personal page, so I do post pictures of my family, just because people engage with that, and I think people almost bond with you over that. For me, I think having that personal touch is quite important. If a patient contacts me, they usually aren’t just saying, “Hi, I’d like to book in.” It is a few questions and I think they’re buying into you as a person and not just your dentistry. I respond to them, sometimes it will be a typed message if it’s just a quick response, but it will always be from me and quite personal.

If it’s a kind of longer, a more complex question, then I’ll send it as a video or as a voice note. I know Dr. Affan was sending all his patients video responses because they just know that you’ve taken the time to send that to them and you look slightly different if it’s not just coming from their receptionist or coming from their treatment coordinator. They know it is your advice and it’s coming from you.

I think having that voice note or a video or something like that where you say, you know, this is my consultation fee, this is when I’m available to see you and this is what we’re going to do for you on the first visit is good. They know exactly what’s happening before they walk in the door and there’s never any drama in the clinic.

Payman Langroudi: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Dr. Slaine McGrath: I think that’s nothing to do with clinical dentistry, and I think it is all to do with how you handle and manage your patients and how you speak to your patients. Because I think patients leave happy if they were treated well and they may come back to you and say, “You know what? This truth isn’t exactly how I want it to be. I want you to change it.” But as long as you’re really understanding and you’re empathetic towards them, you they’ll come back as many times they want to get their teeth to that perfect place.

Whereas I think if there’s any kind of stand off business or hostility between you and your patient, they are much more inclined to make a complaint and it to be much more difficult for you than somebody that you got on with. So I think, I think showing empathy is probably the best bit of advice I would’ve been given.

If you want to listen to that episode of the podcast, click here

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