Facebook has been a bit of a tricky platform for dentistry over the last five years. I regularly talk to dental practices that “don’t get it.” They have 119 fans, post once a month and are frustrated that they don’t have any interaction.
Many dentists struggle with the return on investment because they aren’t seeing new patients walk through the door saying, “I found you on Facebook.”As a profitability guy, I get it. Marketing should always be measured against the return. However, like many of today’s platforms, it’s best to play along until we figure out what they’ll turn into.
While many practices “slept” on Facebook because they couldn’t figure out the ROI, it quietly became the world’s largest data company. It only makes sense that it will quickly become the world’s largest marketing company as well.
Here are four ways you can leverage the platform to market your practice.
Content is king and social media is the ideal place for good content. What started out as status updates about going to the grocery story has turned into family pictures, purchasing advice, service recommendations and high school friendship reunions.
First and foremost, think through your content. Don’t just post something for the sake of hitting your goal for that week. Think about what patients want. What’s beneficial to them?
Here are a few keys to help:
Buckets are containers for topics we regularly want to create content for. For example, every practice should have a “sales and service” container. As part of the regular rotation, you should be communicating to patients the services you offer and sales or promotions in progress. It shouldn’t be all the time, but maybe once or twice a month.
You’ll want a “health and wellness” container. Since dentistry is a big part of overall wellness, find articles and content that educate your patients about healthy lifestyles.
Make sure you include a bucket for “practice culture.” This bucket contains content that allows patients to get to know you and your team. Spotlight one staff member each month with a photo and a short bio about what they love to do in their free time. Did you give heart-shaped sugar cookies away to patients on Valentine’s Day? Take a picture of that and post. Did a few of your staff participate in the local 5K to support Spina Bifida? Awesome. Post that.
Finally, add a bucket for “local news and events.” Make sure you help your community promote events and spread the news. You’ll win their trust and become a go-to source for local news.
How many posts per week do you need? Three to five is plenty and manageable. Start there. Remember: better content beats more content.
Most of all, be authentic. Do you. Patients quickly see through a packaged social media strategy. I highly advised against hiring a social media company that populates your page with “interesting” and “humorous” content. I’ve seen more bad dental humor in the last year on Facebook than the world should ever have to see. It’s not content that’s valuable.
If you do decide to hire a company to help, hire one that can learn the voice of your practice, create custom content and represent you authentically.
2. Boost Your Posts
Many practices don’t realize that if you post something to your page, Facebook only shows it to about one third of your fans (roughly). It’s part of their EdgeRank algorithm.
For example, let’s say you have 1000 fans and you post a highly entertaining joke about how you don’t normally floss, but if you do, it’s 20 minutes before a dental appointment. Complete with a picture of the Dos Equis guy. It’s epic.
Facebook will only show that post to roughly 333 of your fans (give or take a few dozen). Why is that?
Facebook is trying to control spam. They realize that most businesses will take advantage of the platform and post way too many humorous jokes and irrelevant information. If that happens, Facebook users will be irritated by all the spam and stop using Facebook. Before you know it, the next social media platform comes along and we’re talking about Facebook like we do MySpace. Boosting is their way around that.
“Boosting” shows a post to your entire fan base plus their network of friends and family. It costs a little bit of money ($25–$100 depending on how many fans you have and how far the reach), but allows you to push out important information.
I recommend boosting one or two posts per month. If you have a big announcement (adding a doctor, changing locations, etc.), definitely boost. If your practice is hosting an event (charity event, halloween candy drive), those are good to boost as well. Blog posts or articles are another great piece of content to boost. It puts education in front of your patient base and drives traffic back to your website. Every time you boost a blog post, you’ll see your website analytics jump.
3. “Like” Campaign
Did you know you can run a marketing campaign in Facebook to help you add likes to your page? It’s right there in the ad manager. Facebook will put out a little ad encouraging people connected to your fan base to “like” your page. It’s a great way to grow your audience.
Ideally, I like practices to get to 1,000 likes. That’s a good fan base to work with. Using a small monthly budget of $50 — $100 you’ll add fans and be on your way to 1,000.
4. Dark Posts
I realize it sounds a little sinister, but Dark Posts are the slang or street term for direct Facebook ads. They’re called Dark Posts because they don’t post to your Facebook page. These posts are “dark” to your followers.
Dark Posts are probably the most exciting marketing platform I’ve seen in the last ten years. Right now, we are seeing monthly website traffic double and an increase of three to five new patients per month with a small Dark Post budget ($250/month).
Remember how we started off this article talking about how Facebook is the world’s largest data company? Well, the targeting opportunities with Dark Posts are stunning. If your ideal patient target is a 30–50 year old mom who does yoga and watches Downton Abbey, you can place an ad directly in their Facebook stream. This type of targeting has never been seen before and ultimately saves you a ton of money.
Here are a few keys to using Dark Posts:
The one thing you can’t do is put up one ad and leave it for the next six months. The Facebook platform demands fresh images and frequency variations. Design three to six different ads and rotate them. Run an ad for two weeks, then pull it out for two weeks. Constantly switch it up to maximize engagement.
The majority of people access Facebook on their mobile device. So if you run an ad and they click on it, they will be visiting your web site on a mobile device. It needs to look great or they’ll bounce.
At the time of this writing, very few dental practices are using Dark Posts. That will not be the case in the next few years. My suggestion is to jump in now. Be the first in your area to use Dark Posts and you’ll start to see returns right away.