Why You Shouldn’t “Friend” Your Patients.

I recently received two LinkedIn requests. From my dentists. These came right on the heels of a notification that the dental practice was following me on Twitter.

I’ve left these LinkedIn requests in “limbo” while I try to figure out whether or not to accept them. While they are people I have a relationship with, why would they want to connect with me on LinkedIn? Or maybe the better question is, why would I want to be connected with THEM?

I get why they want to connect with me. Everything they are reading about using social media for their business is telling them to. First we connect on LinkedIn, then they create/share content, which I engage with, share to my social network which leads back to them, which results in new connections and ultimately new patients.

Except it doesn’t always. And certainly not in this case.

My relationship with my dentist (and really, any doctor) is very utilitarian. I go to them when I need a check-up or to fix a specific problem and outside of that, I don’t need (or want) anything from them. I am not interested in content about my oral care, the dental industry, or the doctor’s personal lives. So what value could they offer me?

It sounds selfish, but what’s in it for me? If you can’t answer this question, you better think twice about clicking that friend request button. I once had the awesome opportunity to hear Mike Geiger from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners speak at a conference and he said (with regard to social media) “Always give your consumers more value than you expect back from them.”

I don’t believe that doctors can do this.

Let me be clear about something. I really like my dentists. If you need a referral let me know and I’ll give you their info. But I don’t feel the need to bring them into my social network.

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About Ezra Englebardt
Account planner, digital nerd, marketing guru, tweeter, facebooker, occasional blogger, cyclist, snowboarder, mountain biker, social media junkie and avid reader. CU-Boulder and Boston College alum. Frequent guest speaker in Boston-area universities.

2 Responses to Why You Shouldn’t “Friend” Your Patients.

  1. KATHERINE ENGLEBARDT says:

    I totally agree, Ezra.
    I am grateful for and appreciative of my doctors, dentist, health care professionals. But we don’t need to be “friends.” In fact, I think it is unethical to cross some of those boundaries. And I work in the health care industry.

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