Even though there are some distinct advantages to Facebook advertising, I would say that for most dental practices, the answer is probably not yet. Marketing is about properly sequencing your efforts, as much as it is about spending wisely. Even if you already do Google Adwords, you would need to alter your strategy and plan if you want to spend money effectively on Facebook.
The difference between Google and Facebook advertising
The main, and huge, difference, is that Google ads appear in response to a search, while Facebook ads are presented (pushed, as we say in the ad biz) to people who fit certain criteria and have recently posted or liked something relevant to your ad. The second big difference, which relates to the first, is that you can be very specific about who is shown your ad, what their interests are, and even what time of day it displays.
All that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Except very few businesses are raving about their success with Facebook advertising, and even fewer dentists are. My theory is that Facebook users find the ads invasive or invisible. Neither of those are good. It could also be that 50% of Facebook usage happens on smartphones, where ads are really not appreciated. (Okay, Facebook made $5.4 billion last year in ad revenue, so I have to admit it probably works for somebody!)
Also, as with Google, you are paying for clicks, which is a long way from a real patient. So if you are going to test Facebook advertising–and most of you know I believe in having an experimental budget as part of your marketing–then here are the elements you need in place beforehand:
- A robust Facebook business page, with lots of likes, check-ins, and posts from patients, and plenty of before-and-after photos, and ideally some videos, most of them testimonials;
- A rock-solid,dynamic website like we build you with WebDirector;
- A detailed system for tracking results, which starts with entering the source of each new patient into your PMS;
- Money to burn; you cannot be upset about this not paying for itself. It’s an experiment.
Why do you need a good website? Because when they click on your ad, that is where they will be sent by Facebook. There are different campaigns you can do on Facebook. You can advertise just to build “likes”. I do not recommend this. You can promote specific posts that you’ve done. I don’t recommend this either. You want to promote your practice, which means promoting your website.
If you do decide to try it, go here: Facebook/advertising. You will be led step by step through the process of creating an ad, selecting your audience, and setting up your budget. I’m going to take you through the process, but more as an overview.
Your Campaign Type. You will choose “website conversions” as the purpose of your campaign, and put in your practice domain name. (You could technically put in your Facebook URL, but those generally are not as comprehensive as your website.) As part of your setup of your ad campaign, you will be able to add a little marker called a pixel that tells if people went to your website, and if they requested an appointment. (This requires web code–not complicated, but you’re not going to be able to do it yourself.) It’s a nice feature for tracking results.
Create your ad. You should be doing the image of your ad ahead of time, and uploading it. (Try www.canva.com if you’re a real novice at this. I’ll be blogging about that site next week.) You need a good ad message, with an image. Because it’s going to be small, it needs to catch their attention quickly. This is usually some kind of new patient offer. As a word of warning, don’t use an image that is eye-catching but totally unrelated to dentistry; Facebook often shuts those off. I’m talking about things like a girl in the tube top that takes you to a car insurance site. Not that I’ve clicked on that.
Connect your Facebook page. This will let you track exactly where people came from. It’s mostly if you want to have ads appear in your news feed. That’s not you. Put in your Facebook page, but you want new patients to see you, so you’re going to “turn off news feed ads”. If you have a lot of likes on your page, I’m talking hundreds, you can leave that option on so that people can see those next to your ad. Otherwise unclick it.
Choose your audience. You can limit it to zip codes, and put multiple ones if you so choose. I wouldn’t restrict gender yet. Age group I would start at 25+. Pick languages you want. Under “More Demographics” you can get pretty specific about educational level. This will shrink your audience–Facebook is going to show you how many people that will be as you add filters. Under “Interests”, you can add as many as you want. These are essentially keywords, like dentistry, toothache, whitening, Invisalign, etc. but for now I’d leave that blank for now. People are only going to click on your ad if they are interested in dentistry, so don’t narrow it too quickly.
Select your budget. This is your daily amount. You can change it whenever you want. Under “Bidding”, leave it at “clicks”, not “impressions.” I wouldn’t test less than $500 in a month. Place your order and see what happens. I suggest trying it for at least three months. You can vary your campaigns and test different audiences, but don’t expect instant results.
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