Short answer: no.
While social media is the new way to share information about and to promote your clinic, it is important to draw the line somewhere when it comes to that personal connection… and we think that line is drawn at the “Facebook friend” stage.
The main issues we see are maintaining your reputation and maintaining confidentiality. We all like to do silly things once in a while, and those times are often fun to post to Facebook for our family and close friends to enjoy. However, if you are “friends” with a client, these moments can risk your reputation.
Furthermore, we are often prone to making remarks about our political or religious views, which are no doubt touchy subjects that can lead to disagreements that hurt relationships.
Accepting a client’s “friend” request may seem like the polite thing to do, but it can put your professional reputation at risk and should be avoided. The good news is that there is an alternative; you can create a Facebook Page for your practice to interact with your patients. In fact, we highly encourage it!
Just remember that when it comes to online communication with your clients there is a level of confidentiality that must be maintained. If a client posts something to your wall that requires even the slightest bit of personal response, you are at risk of revealing some of their personal health information to the public. Instead use your Facebook page to share your advice on staying healthy and anything you think your clients might find helpful.
So when it comes to Facebook, don’t “friend” your clients but rather use a Facebook Page for your clinic and proceed with caution by keeping the posts informational rather than personal. And remember to include links to your Facebook page on your website and business cards.