Why most dentists fail with Facebook marketing

Is the rush to Facebook dental marketing working for you? Likely not….

The hottest topic in dental marketing at the moment is arguably Facebook advertising. With most agencies pushing this and with this “new” channel becoming ever more accessible, the number of dentists jumping on the band-wagon seems to be increasing exponentially.

But the feedback about the success of Facebook and it’s ability to deliver new patient enquiries is at best mixed. So is this about the Facebook framework itself under-delivering, or more about the way dentists are trying to use it? It’s actually a mixture of both as we’ll see later.

However, it’s only fair at this early stage to point out that Facebook marketing can work; but you need a good level of knowledge, experience and persistence to make it happen.

The key challenge with advertising in Facebook

This is important and the main thing to understand before you launch into your Facebook campaign. Fundamentally, Facebook is a social channel and its main use is to act as a vehicle to facilitate interaction between family, friends and colleagues. So despite all of the noise you may hear about people searching for services and products on Facebook, the vast majority of this is done elsewhere, i.e. Google. So in most cases, users are on Facebook for social interaction, rather than with predetermined buying intent. So if you serve an ad to these guys, even if it’s well-targeted, it’s unlikely to receive as much strong purchasing engagement as an ad served on Google or even a traditional search engine result.

Consequently, traffic you get from Facebook is from users who are typically much further up the purchasing funnel and potentially only mildly interested in what you have to offer, rather than filled with burgeoning purchasing intent. However, that said, it can be very useful for building local brand awareness and creating initial touch-points.

Understanding this is key before thinking that Facebook it the answer to all of your marketing prayers – it isn’t. This is why we always recommend a Facebook campaign as being complementary to SEO and Google Ads, rather than attempting to displace those tried-and-trusted mechanisms.

Too much noise?

Another key “problem” with Facebook advertising is the amount of noise and crud users have to experience before they can even make a decision whether to interact with you or not. Even though Facebook is trying to clean up its act, there is still a lot of useless bumf being broadcast all of the time. Seeing past this can be a big problem for a lot of users.

Poor targeting

Another huge reason for failure with Facebook marketing campaigns is lack of or inappropriate targeting. Whilst the platform has tools to help you choose, the problem is that the targeting selections you make are likely to be exactly the same ones that your competitor down the road is making. Consequently your ad is likely being served alongside several others just like you. There is no easy answer to this and gaining experience can be very frustrating. Set your targets too wide and it becomes a free-for-all; set them too tight and your audience will be too small.

Offers which don’t make a difference

Whether you like offers or not, they tend to be one of the key drivers for interaction on Facebook. But the problem here is that everyone is trying with the same bait – a free consultation, maybe free whitening with braces treatment, it’s all very samey to be frank. This won’t really differentiate you from the rest of the swarm. So think creatively when it comes to your offer and other unique selling points.

Ad fatigue

This is another classic failure mode and occurs when your ad has been served so many times to the same audience that they simply switch off. You may even get negative feedback as a result. The key points here are a) make sure your ads are engaging in the first place and b) change them regularly. Both aspects take time and creativity to get right and most dentists neither have the time, tools or inclination to get the desired results. Sadly, like most marketing initiatives, Facebook is not fire-and-forget, indeed it’s very time-consuming to do well.

Failure to use landing pages and lead follow up

I regularly see posts in dental Facebook forums where dentists want to try using the channel but are keen to try it the DIY route. Typically here we see a lack of appreciation of the need for key structural assets such as landing pages and feedback systems to allow you to nurture any enquiries you get. Remember that the quality of traffic you get from Facebook is typically a fair bit lower than that from Google search or Google Ads and consequently you may need to work just that little bit harder to convert it into tangible results.

Summary

The rush to Facebook for dental marketing continues at pace, but there is a lot of disappointment surfacing along the way. Much touted as the panacea for all of your marketing ills, unfortunately Facebook isn’t quite as simple as some agencies might have you believe and getting results is arguably harder than other channels.

So should you discount it? The answer there is ‘no’ because what is also clear is that Facebook can deliver if you put sufficient resource behind it and use it as part of a holistic campaign alongside other well-crafted marketing initiatives. Just don’t “dabble” and hope it comes good, as it likely won’t.

If Facebook marketing is frustrating you, or maybe you’re keen to try it, why not call the social media team at Dental Media for guidance? You can reach us on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to get you moving.