3 Ways Dentists Can Use Facebook Advertising for New Patient Acquisition

Can Dentists Advertise on Facebook Effectively?

UPDATED February 12, 2018

Social media for the dental practice has come a long way in just a few short years.

We hear reports every now and again how the more traditional new patient acquisition efforts – like Yellow Pages & Direct Mail – are still useful in certain areas (targeting certain demographics), but without a complementary social media identity, dentists are not maximizing their new patient recruitment & retention efforts.

The emphasis has shifted from over-bloated under-performing dental marketing, to content creation and digital word-of-mouth amplification.

Facebook advertising is a force multiplier for dentists.

See how you can use Facebook Ads like a Navy SEAL to boost your referrals, reviews, retention & reactivations.
Dentists Use Facebook Ads for New Patients

Dentists Advertising for New Patients on Facebook?

Dentists advertising on Facebook can use these three forms of media in their new patient acquisition efforts — “owned,” “paid,” and “earned” — to increase potential and existing patient engagement, extend the reach of their offers, contests, or promotions, and turn Likes (just like in grade school, you can’t buy friends) into new patients happy to spread the social dental currency around to their friends.

Let’s define what we mean by each term as it relates to dental practices advertising on Facebook, but first we’ll give credit where credit is most due – the inspiration of this post belongs to this Facebook Advertising article via Practical eCommerce.

Owned media. Content created by dentists for use on Facebook Pages.
Paid media. Facebook Ads.
Earned media. Conversations about dental health brands and products – and your practice – shared among Facebook users.

Dentists maximizing Facebook’s advertising options effectively enable each of these advertising formats to integrate with the others to increase their overall new patient acquisition & retention impact.

Now to break it down in more detail…


Owned Media: Create Engaging Content

The first step is to create content that your dental Facebook connections want and will likely engage with.

When your most dental-centric fans engage with your posts, their friends may see the story in their news feed too, enabling you to extend your reach.

What types of content qualify as engaging to a potential or existing dental patient?

2 Types of Engaging Content…to Dental Patients


1. Promotional Content

This includes content much like you’ve run in the past with the more traditional new patient acquisition methods like direct mail, radio, tv or print.

Just for a hell of a lot less money.

Have you ever figured out what your average new patient is worth to your practice in the first 9 months?
How about the lifetime value of a new patient?
Or the amount of money you’ve paid to acquire a new patient – from each traditional advertising method?

Here are some examples of promotional content dentists have used in the past for more traditional (offline) campaigns, which you can also be effective with your Facebook Ads:

  • New patient offers
  • Branding campaigns
  • Event promotion
  • Internal promotion (contests, announcements, new equipment additions, new services…etc.)

And in addition to targeting new patients, you can do use Facebook Ads to promote different types of content – targeting only your existing patients – to people who have already liked and are following your page…and their friends.

For example:

  • Ads for referral generation
  • Ads for review generation
  • Internal promotion (contests, announcements, new equipment additions, new services…etc.)

According to Constant Contact post, Syncapse reported back in June of 2013 that the top three reasons why people decide to like a Facebook page are:

  • 49 percent: To support a brand I like
  • 42 percent: To get a coupon or discount
  • 41 percent: To receive regular updates from brands I like

You can do all of this – and more – both organically and with Facebook Ads, in a sustainable & cost-effective manner.

2. Informational Content

It makes sense that prospective & existing patients will respond to content focused on their needs and interests.

Give your followers the beneficial information to empower their health care decisions and enlist them in their own dental health!

A generally accepted rule of thumb for dental Facebook posts is to keep the promotional content at a ratio of 1:4 as compared to educational, local, or entertainment driven information.

Finding the right mix with the organic part of Facebook and the paid advertising component of Facebook – paid Ads – takes some experimentation and consistency.

Testing and analysis will reveal trends and patterns. Use those trends and patterns to make actionable decisions about the types of content you post and promote.

Here are some tips dentists can use to increase engagement with the informational content you create:

  • Use images. According to KissMetrics, an analytics and tracking firm, images and photos receive 39 percent higher interactions than average posts, and receive 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments, and 84 percent more clicks. Include an image in most, if not all, of your posts.
  • Keep posts short. Posts with less than 80 characters get 23 percent higher engagement.
  • Post often…but not TOO often. Among retail brands, posting 1 to 2 times per day gets 40 percent more engagement than posting 3 or more times per day. Don’t be that dentist that posts 6 useless pieces of content before 10am!
  • Schedule posts for optimal days and times. Facebook activity peaks around 3 p.m. Eastern Time each day. There are also spikes around 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday seems to be most active day during the week. Schedule posts to take advantage of these peaks.
  • Pin and highlight posts. Pin important posts to the top of your page to increase exposure, as well as highlight such posts so they span the width of both columns in the Timeline.
  • Use Facebook Insights. Use Facebook Insights to analyze the types of content fans most respond to, as well as the effect post format, frequency and time of day has on engagement.

How can dentists use informational content with Facebook Ads to boost acquisition & retention?

By posting, sharing, engaging & communicating all different types of content – via images, blog posts, videos – on a consistent basis.

And by answering questions, offering insight, or educating your audience.

Simple example: Your practice is in a location with an older age demographic.

  • You use Facebook Ads to only target people aged 50 or older in a 10 mile radius around your practice.
  • You use the Ad (and associated landing page) to educate them about the differences between dentures & dental implants.
  • You offer a free consult, or ebook, or video…etc. in exchange for the user’s contact info to acquire each potential new patient lead.
  • You then nurture that lead with more complementary content – both organically & with more ads.

So by posting consistently, savvy dentists can decipher the most effective combination of organic and paid informational content to further your new patient acquisition & retention objectives.


Paid Media: Dentists Can Amplify Social Media Content with Facebook Ads

Any dentist can boost a Facebook post, actually Facebook is banking on that.

But don’t fall victim to that $5 offer to boost your post!

You can use Facebook Ads much more effectively than driving a one & done click to your latest blog post.

Dentists using Facebook advertising have the unique targeting capability to reach fans, friends of fans, and even a group of users based on age, gender, location, language, email address, mobile phone number, interests…and more.

When you combine the power of engagement drawing organic content, with the phone ringing, door swinging, ass kicking addition of paid social media (Facebook Ads), you force multiply your social media new patient acquisition & retention efforts.


Earned Media: Dental Practices NEED to Interact with their Fans

We know it sounds silly, but it’s really a make or break point. It’s very important to interact with people who engage with your posts.

Social media isn’t a one-way conversation, here are a few ideas on how to create earned media for your practice:

  • Respond to comments. This lets people know you’re interested in what they have to say and may increase the likelihood they will continue to pay attention to your posts over time.
  • Get fans involved. Ask people to create their own content and share it on your dental practice Facebook Page. Be sure to ask fans to take action on your posts. This could include asking them to like a post, vote in a contest, or share the post with their friends.
  • Asking questions helps, too. Posts that include questions garner 100 percent more comments than “non-question” posts.
    Feature fans. Feature a “fan of the week” and include testimonials from patients that are also fans of your dental practice Facebook Page.

How can dentists use earned media with Facebook Ads?

  • You can use Facebook Ads to highlight video testimonials targeting new patients in the local area.
  • You can use Facebook Ads to showcase contest winners to boost recalls & reactivations (it costs less to retain a patient than it does to acquire one).
  • You can use Facebook Ads to promote local events and community happenings.

Once earned, and with a little imagination, dentists can re-purpose this media in a variety of ways.

Dentists Can Force Multiply New Patient Acquisition & Retention with Facebook Ads

Facebook makes it easy for any dental practice to integrate owned, paid and earned media to increase the effectiveness of your digital dental marketing.

Dentists need to take advantage of this capability by creating engaging content, promoting content that receives the most engagement using Facebook ads, and interacting with fans and others to stimulate the digital dental health conversation centered around your practice.

Want to Put Facebook to Work for Your Dental Practice?

Subscribe To Social Dental 360™

The following two tabs change content below.
+Chris Barnard is the Managing Partner at Social Dental Network, a boutique digital marketing agency consistently generating tangible return on investment for dentists across North America & the U.K.


  1. […] on the search world that have Bing and Yahoo playing catch up, Facebook quietly rolls out multiple advertising upgrades and Graph Search (their social search engine) […]