Whether you have been on social media for years, or are just getting started, chances are you’d like to increase your effectiveness. By “effectiveness” I mean, get more likes or followers, expand your visibility, increase interaction, and of course attract new patients. We’ve seen great results for all of these objectives with social media advertising and promotions, such as placing ads or sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Let’s look at a step-by-step process of creating and launching successful social media ads for your practice.
First – Define Your Objective
What is it you want your ad to achieve for your practice? Consider this list of potential objectives:
- Grow likes or followers
- Expand visibility
- Increase interaction
- Attract new patients
- Generate goodwill
You might be thinking that the whole point of being on social media is to get new patients, so why include any other objectives? There are several reasons why. The most important reason is that you need social proof in order to convert patient leads. Social proof means a healthy number of likes, reviews, and interaction. In other words, your page (and your practice) won’t have much credibility if you have 13 likes, outdated content, and the sound of crickets on your business page.
In the case of a page with only 13 likes and no recent or zero activity, a Facebook ad that helps to generate likes is a great place to start. Another option is to use the organic method of word of mouth to grow your page likes and followers. For example, inviting patients to like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram while they are in your office. For this to be effective, it will require that you have a system in place. Often this is a team member who likes social media and is happy to consistently engage in a brief conversation with patients while they are in your office.
A natural, organic time to invite patients to join you on social media or share their thoughts in an online review is anytime a patient compliments your team or practice. You can thank the patient sincerely for the feedback and then ask them if they are active online. Give them the option of posting their thoughts on your Facebook page, Google listing, or review platform of their choice.
Back to social media ads … Social media ad objectives other than “new patients”, are sometimes a means to an end… with the end being to attract new patients. It’s important to note that the most successful practices on social media see the tool as a great way to grow relationships and generate goodwill in the community—which can also lead to new patients over time.
Second – Craft Your Ad
Your objective will help determine your ad content. For example, an ad to generate likes can be created through Facebook’s ad platform option, “Promote your Page”. If however, your objective is to expand your visibility, you could choose to “Boost your Post”, which would expand your post visibility to your desired city or zip codes and extend the shelf life of your post. In other words, sponsoring a post or creating an ad from a post allows that post to appear in the newsfeed for your desired number of campaign days, based on your budget.
Ideally, you will use Facebook’s ad platform to place your ads. It gives you much greater targeting options than the Boost Post button/option directly on your page. To access Facebook’s ad platform, visit facebook.com/advertising and click the “Create an ad” option.
You may prefer to use Facebook’s Ads Manager app to place your ads. You can download the Facebook Ads Manager app from the app store on your device. If you spend more time on your mobile device or simply find apps more userfriendly, you will enjoy the convenience of this option. The app is available for iPhone and Android.
Facebook provides numerous tutorials and references to help you place ads yourself. If you want someone to hold your hand, look over your shoulder, or handle it entirely, there are agencies that understand the nuances of dentistry to help with that as well. For those of you who plan to do it yourself, you’ll also want to consider the following:
- What you want your ad to say – text may or may not be limited depending on the type of ad you are running
- What you want your ad to look like – be aware that Facebook has limitations on the type of image/visuals you may use
- When you want your ad to run – choose the number of days and a budget for your campaign
Third – Determine Your Budget
There are infinite campaign and budget options. You can experiment for as little as $5.00 for a Boost Post campaign that may run several days. I suggest you keep your budget minimal the first few times you run your ads. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the ad process and ensure you’re representing your practice well. A conservative budget that will still get results is as little as, for example, $5 per day for five days.
If you check the option for your campaign to “run continuously”, be sure to set a reminder for yourself of when you want the campaign to end. One doctor called me frantically asking how to stop his ad that had been running for a few months because he’d forgotten about it!
Also, you want to make sure your ad doesn’t overdo impressions. In other words, make sure your ad isn’t served to your audience too many times. If people see your ad over and over again, they may get annoyed and click to inform Facebook that they don’t want to see your ads—ever. This is considered negative feedback and may result in higher ad prices.
Facebook has recently added a relevance score to ads. This is a grade for your ads with 10 out 10 being excellent and one out of 10 being poor. The relevance score and other ad metrics can be found in your Facebook Ads Manager Campaigns section. The relevance score, in addition to reach, spend, cost per engagement, etc. are updated constantly. Much of this information is also provided within the Facebook Ads Manager app dashboard.
Facebook continues to add resources and make improvements to make ad placement more convenient and user friendly. For example, if your ads or boosts are appropriate for Instagram, you can opt to share your promotion on Instagram as well. This can help showcase a specific post or suggest others follow your account. Both Facebook and Instagram allow you to target users based on a variety of demographics.
Finally – Track Your Ad Results
There are several ways to track your ad’s effectiveness. Depending on your objectives, Facebook ad campaign reports can provide results. Regarding leads and new patients, you can use a unique phone number to track and record calls, have a special questionnaire to interview patients, or create specific options on your online intake forms. I recommend the online intake forms. In an example where a new patient was referred by a friend, they are still be able to check off that they’ve also seen you on Facebook or Instagram if you have those options as checklist items on your forms. If you don’t have these options on your intake forms, you will never know for sure if your social media marketing is working or not.
These ads have taken many dentists’ mediocre Facebook pages and turned them into visibility machines. Gone are the days when social media advisers used to say, “You should never sell on social media.” In fact, you can be very direct and include calls to action with these ad options—depending on your objectives. Now that the secret is out, you may want to jump on board with social media advertising. Like all pay per click ads, as demand grows, chances are campaign prices will grow too. I encourage you to implement at least one ad campaign per month to get started. Keep me posted on your progress!
About the Author
Rita Zamora is the author of the new book, Get Found, Get Liked, Get Patients – Making the Most of Social Media, and owner of a social media marketing agency serving dentists and specialists. She is known as “Dentistry’s Social Media Expert”. Rita graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing and has over 20 years of experience working in the business of dentistry. Learn more at RitaZamora.com.