Should Dentists Be Spending Money Advertising on Facebook?

Like most people between the ages of 25-40, I use social media on my computer and phone daily (they should really start a Facebook Anonymous group). When I started doing some research on statistics for this post, I was amazed at some of the results. I’m sure you’ll be too.

  • Internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts
  • Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users
  • 72% of all online US adults visit Facebook at least once a month
  • Social media takes up nearly 20% of the time people spend online (desktop and mobile) in the US
  • There are 40 million active small business Pages

While most of these statistics would make you believe that it’s a good idea to advertise your dental practice on social media, especially Facebook, I actually would recommend against it. Let me explain why.

Facebook users are motivated by content shared and written by friends; what you did last weekend, who your ex is dating, or cute puppy videos. Sarah doesn’t log onto Facebook to find out what her dentist is up to.

The stat above, that there are 40 million active small business pages sounds enticing, but what they do not mention is that of the 40 million, only 2 million pay for advertising. Now Facebook advertising comes in a few different forms. The most common are pay-per-click advertising and “boosting” posts. Pay-per click ads on Facebook target specific types of users in demographics.

The hard part with dentistry is you never truly know which demographic needs a new dentist. It might be worth it to pay Google to do the same ‘pay-per-click’ work, knowing that they can target someone that is actively searching for a dentist nearby.Really though, it depends, the only way to figure it out is to create a few campaigns and track the results. Run the campaigns. It can be worth it to figure this out as every practice is different.

The second type of advertising on Facebook is when you “boost” a post on your page. This is a waste of money for you. Why? Let’s assume you actually have a good number of “followers”, 500, Facebook will only show it to a small percentage of your followers – say 10%. To reach more than 50 people, Facebook will ask you to “boost” it. Note: boosting your post will still reach your same followers (and really followers = existing patients). Since most patients have their next appointment booked, boosting these posts won’t have much effect on your bottom line. For some businesses like consumer electronics or fashion, it makes sense to boost a post because new products and trends affect revenues directly. I’ve got friends who buy the latest fashion trend whenever they see something ‘new’ pop up, unfortunately dentistry doesn’t have the same appeal to “consume” as the new iPhone.

The other thing to consider is your goal for being active on social media. It’s either to get new patients or to keep your existing patients in the loop with what’s going on. If you’ve trained your front-end staff well, the majority of these patients should already have their next cleaning scheduled. If not, you should be using our partner software, Lighthouse360 to comb through your practice management software and communicate with everyone that has not been to your practice within a certain amount of time. If your staff’s time (which equals your money) is being spent on keeping your social media page up to date, you should think of this as an investment into building your brand and presence online, not a way for you to get new patients. Your brand is important, but I’m a numbers driven person, and would rather have more paying patients than likes on Facebook.

So, if you aren’t getting new patients from Facebook, where are they coming from? Take this question seriously, it’s important that you figure this out. Take the time to run a report on all the new patients you have gotten in the last 3 months. Where did they come from? If you’re like most dental practices it’ll be from word-of-mouth referrals or from reviews online. This is where you should focus your time and money. Make the most of your patient’s word of mouth.

At Connect the Doc, we advise our clients to focus on internal marketing. We’ve got a complete solution to help you get reviews on Google and Yelp, more referrals from your existing patients, and less cancellations / no-shows so you can run your practice more effectively. And for our referrals, which are done through Facebook, not promoted on your business page, but on your patient’s – so you can reach out to their whole network. This way, you get exposure to new and credible people, without paying for the visibility.

I hope this post was helpful, please feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts. If you enjoyed reading this post, I’d encourage you to read our blog or download our eBook.