Dentists have heard it all before; get your practice on Facebook or risk losing patients because you’re not presenting an up to date and accessible digital identity.
We’ve said it, you’ve probably heard it from patients, from the never-ending stream of sales calls, from colleagues, and probably even friends or family members. It’s true…BUT…
How Can Dentists Get Results Using Facebook?
First we need to define what results we’re hoping to achieve. We can do this by simply identifying a goal, then using Facebook as a tool in your digital dental marketing belt to meet – and hopefully exceed – the goal, or goals.
Let’s look at some of the goals the average dentist using Facebook might hope to accomplish:
- More new patients
- Increased retention/recall percentages
- More reviews
- More page ‘Likes’
- Keeping up with the Joneses
- Event promotion
Now let’s examine how we’ll go about doing all of that – there are certainly more goals that could be discussed, but these are likely the most popular to any dentist using Facebook…or any social media marketing effort.
We’ll take care of some of the ways to attract new patients with this first post, then in subsequent posts in the coming weeks we’ll examine the remainder of the aforementioned goals in detail.
Dentists Can Get More New Patients From Facebook?
Absolutely! But without a system in place it’ll only be a case of dumb luck dead reckoning – which you’ll probably have no idea how to attribute the new patient to your Facebook presence in the first place.
The keys to getting new patients start with your existing patients, and ends with effective tracking – with a good dose of Facebook Advertising and/or email marketing in between.
You can’t measure what you don’t track.
Your existing patients are the FOUNDATION of any dental social media marketing plan, but without effective tracking (and CALL HANDLING AT THE FRONT DESK) all you’ll do is waste time and maybe get lucky once or twice a year from just being on one of the most widely accessed websites in the world.
Social media is an inbound marketing strategy, this means that the marketing tactics focus on creating quality content that pulls people toward your dental practice – rather than pushing your offers at potential new patients with the shotgun approach of more traditional marketing methods such as radio or direct mail.
Incomplete background lecture aside, just because dental social media is an inbound strategy doesn’t mean dentists can’t go out and serve up some advertising beyond (and through) their existing patients.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of defining the steps necessary to make Facebook a worthwhile new patient acquisition ingredient as part of your practice marketing plan.
Connect With Your Existing Patients
To do this you will need to have been collecting your patient email addresses – so if you have 3K patients of record, you should have 3K up to date emails. If you do not have this, crack the whip on your front desk or scheduling coordinator!
Asking for (and verifying or updating 2x annually) emails and mobile numbers should be SOP by now.
Again, this is a foundational element of any quest for new dental patients on Facebook. We all know what happens to the best laid plans when the rubber hits the road but without a solid foundation, success will be that much more difficult to come by.
Now take those patient emails (exported from your software as an excel file, or whatever acceptable format you choose) and upload them to your Facebook page so you can invite your patients to ‘Like’ your page – the first step in connecting.
You can download this super simple step by step outline “How to Build Hundreds of Facebook Fans from Your Existing Patients in 5 Minutes or Less!“ to take care of this if you don’t know how to do it.
After that, send off the invites and watch the Likes roll in!
Or maybe not, a word of warning here – if your practice culture doesn’t jibe with social media or is more of an antiseptic formal conversation only type place where the hygienists ask the same inane questions expecting the same cursory garbled responses, and the dentist drops by the chair for a quicker than quick dead fish handshake followed by a 30 second ‘exam’…stick with the direct mail money drain, OR enlist the help of a professional.
Some practices want to notify every one of their social media presence – and everything else, and have the culture to back it up. On the other hand, some practices are more discretionary with the patient correspondence.
The bottom line is, go with what you know, and what fits your practice culture. Most importantly do something. Nobody is going to be that offended your practice reached out to them on Facebook – especially if they are already connected to you in some way.
Facebook Advertising Gets Dentists New Patients
All of your patients have received an invite asking them to like your Facebook page, now comes the fun stuff. There are limitless options on what it is you want to advertise, from referral rewards programs, discount offers, office sweepstakes, or guess how many jelly beans are in the candy bowl.
So with the interest of keeping this relatively short, let’s just say we’re looking to promote an office special on your garden variety dental exam & cleaning.
With Facebook advertising you can not only target your existing patients (by email, profile ID, or mobile phone), but you can also target lookalike audiences (people who “look like” your patients with regards to interests, demographics, locations…etc.), specific locations (your city), and a whole slew of drill down parameters to have Facebook only serve your Ads to the eyeballs that matter most.
It could be as complicated as mining your data set and generating online personas, or as simple as constructing a Facebook post highlighting your offer (discount exam & cleaning), then using the ‘Boost Post‘ feature on your Facebook page to increase the reach with some pay to play social media visibility.
Target the audience, set a daily or lifetime budget (you can risk as little as $10), and your ad is off to the races!
Add in a little force multiplication by enlisting your current patients – all of them that Like your page at least – encouraging them to share your offer, then reward the one that leads to the most referrals!
OK, now maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here and glossing over the finer details of Facebook ad composition, audience targeting, and effective calls to action – guilty as charged.
But the single point I am painfully trying to illustrate here is that to get results from Facebook, dentists need to:
- Define what results you desire.
- Track efficiently & effectively (Facebook does all the heavy lifting for you…but don’t you dare let that new patient call DROP by having them hear, “thank you for calling Anytown Smile Excellence, where our patients come first, PLEASE HOLD.“).
- Use Facebook Advertising to boost your visibility and reach more potential new patients.
Remember that traditional new patient acquisition method of having some direct mail broker purchase you a list of completely new (BS), highly affluent (says who), local residents that just bought a home within the last six months (all of which these list brokers already damn well have – it’s called OLD DATA), then design your creative, add some stock ad copy, pay for postage, AND charge you upwards of $10,000 for something you don’t even know was actually delivered?
Get started on some cost-effective & sustainable new patient acquisition with Facebook Advertising for your dental practice…leave the cost-prohibitive shotgun approach for the turkeys!
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