This seems to be the big debate in the marketing world, particularly for small businesses. From a marketing standpoint, it’s kind of like asking what’s more important in a car, the engine or the steering? I guess it could be the engine, but a car without steering has some serious limitations. Like a car, the key to effective marketing is to get everything to work together. That’s what achieves maximum results.
First, understand that your website is still the cornerstone of all your practice marketing. It should appear on any advertising or promotion that you do, from business cards to emails. It is where people are most likely to end up on a Google search, and it is also where they will be sent if you advertise on Facebook and they click on the ad.
It also is well to note that many consumers now check multiple online sources when choosing a business. They will look at a website, Facebook, (which is searchable; read this blog post to find out how that works), and review sites.
Which is why ideally your website already has reviews displaying, and also a page where your Yelp reviews stream, so that the person searching doesn’t leave your website to go look there and see ads for 13 (yes, 13!) other dentists.
But Facebook is dominating people’s Internet usage. The average American spends 37 minutes a day on Facebook, more than any other Internet activity, including their email, and vastly more than any other social media site. (See the chart below.)
There’s no doubt that people are spending way more time on Facebook than ever before. The question is, are they behaving like consumers? The answer to that, more and more, is yes, because of Facebook ads and because of Graph Search, which allows users to search Facebook almost the same way as they do Google, and find pictures, pages, posts and comments on anything.
So the answer is Facebook page is steadily growing in importance. In part because people don’t want to rely solely on the information they get on a website, and also because they spend way more time on Facebook than they do anywhere else on the web. They will not get the same feel for your practice experience on your website as they will on Facebook, but, conversely, people are more likely to call when they are on your website.
So, does that make Facebook equal or more important than your website? That depends on the individual consumer. And that’s why you need to cover both bases so well. The amount of time Americans spend online has doubled in the past three years alone. You need an active, robust presence online. Which means:
- A dynamic website, with ever changing content, and fresh reviews (not testimonials) showing up almost daily
- A mobile version of your website that re-formats completely to conform to what users want to see on a smartphone
- A Facebook page with a steady stream of likes, check-ins, and posts by both you and your patients
- Marketing materials that promote both your website and your Facebook page
- Video content (reviews, mostly) that can be used both on Facebook and your website (and YouTube)
- Actively monitoring your reviews, ideally using a product that alerts you to new reviews, like ReputationMonitor
Marketing always works best as a comprehensive approach. There is no longer one single medium to master, like the Yellow Pages once were. And there is no magic advertising bullet. You will still have to always deliver a great patient experience.
In two weeks I’m going to write about paid advertising on Facebook, so stay tuned.
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