Social media marketing for dentists is a hot topic, and it’s not surprising. The explosion in social media venues shows no sign of slowing, and use of social media is showing year-over-year growth. Marketers are quick to point out the wide reach that social media provides.
Facebook is the unquestioned leader in social media with over 1.55 billion active users. The average American is on Facebook for 40 minutes every day.
The other social media forums – Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on – don’t even come close.
It sounds like Facebook advertising for your practice would be a no-brainer; after all, what other single marketing channel offers you a reasonable certainty of reaching your dental patient prospects for 40 minutes every day?
Those are the “fun” facts.
Here’s not-so-fun fact #1: Social media wasn’t designed to sell. The original function of social media was to engage, and that’s what it still does best. And because engagement is the name of the game, competition for users’ attention is fierce.
For instance, according to Gizmo, there are 300 million photo uploads each day to Facebook. Well over 5 billion pieces of content are shared daily.
Not-so-fun fact #2: Social media isn’t the first choice for information-gathering. As a rule, people don’t click on Facebook dental ads when they need a dentist. They’re far more likely to do a web search. After all, when was the last time you looked on Facebook for a plumber?
Social media ads can work well for retailers, but the retail dynamic is completely different than the decision-making process that leads to choosing a dentist.
And not-so-fun fact #3: In 2015, smartphone browsing overtook desktop browsing for the first time. Facebook accounts for 20% of smartphone browsing. All those people viewing Facebook on smartphones means that your ads must be optimized for smaller screens, allowing less content.
And, smartphone ad blockers are slowly becoming more and more common. As smartphone browsing continues to to grow, more and more people won’t see your ads.
As I’ve said many times before, I don’t recommend that dentists invest heavily in social media marketing. While ROI is getting easier to measure for, say, Facebook ads, those ads represent only a portion of your investment. The remainder of your ROI remains fuzzy, to say the least.
Dentists should use social media, and Facebook in particular, to accomplish its original purpose of engaging their audience. Develop a loyal fan base by providing fresh, interesting, educational and helpful content for your Facebook followers. That allows you to position yourself as the go-to expert and the preferred choice when people need or want dental services.
And then, they’ll visit your website, which should be your main vehicle for providing information about your services and the experience they can expect, and to answer those frequently asked questions. Your website, properly done, will convert lookers to callers. After that, it’s up to your staff to engage and convert those callers to new patients.
New patients – more butts in chairs – should the the single end goal of all your marketing efforts. Social media marketing is just a means to help you reach that goal.