Social Media Marketing – Handling the “Time Wasters”

Social Media Marketing – Handling the “Time Wasters”

What to expect from enquiries generated from social ads vs Google Ads

In an ideal world, all leads and enquiries into dental practices would lead to treatment with minimal input needed from the practice team. However, this isn’t going to happen unfortunately, irrespective of how much we’d like it to. Particularly when you’re advertising for new patients using ads on Facebook and Instagram, you have to expect that quite a number of the leads will be at best speculative and even some of them completely irrelevant.

But why is this, what should you actually expect and how do you minimise the number of folk enquiring who actually have very little intention of proceeding?

Let’s start by taking a look at the types of enquiries you typically receive from different advertising platforms and why they generally vary in quality. This will help the decision making process when deciding where to place your advertising spend.

Google Ads

People searching on Google are usually there with pre-formed intent i.e. they are specifically looking for a product or service. For dentistry, this could be someone searching for teeth-straightening or even more specifically, for a brand of orthodontic appliance such as Invisalign. Of course the same goes for lots of other dental treatments too.

Carefully crafted dental ads and ad campaigns on Google will successfully target those people searching for treatments and hopefully they’ll click through to your landing page to make an enquiry.

So Google ads are very useful for targeting people searching for people who have pre-formed intent and seeking out specific services. But that’s not the whole story as we’ll see shortly.

Facebook and Instagram Ads

These types of ads are quite significantly different – for example they use a combination of text, images and even video to convey the message required. So from a visual perspective they are far more appealing than typical Google Ads.

However, you also need to understand that people using social media platforms are not usually there searching for products and services; they’re there passing the time of day or updating family and friends about their latest ventures. So in many cases, they are not in “buying” mode.

Consequently when an ad is placed in someone’s social feed, it won’t typically be seen by someone who has a pre-formed buying intent at that particular time.

 A few words about ad targeting

It makes very good sense to target your ads to the type of audience which will be most receptive and the different platforms have different tools for doing this. However, over the last year or so, the facility to target ads on Facebook and Instagram has become somewhat watered down – for example, you used to be able to target an audience where users had specific interests related to dentistry such as smile makeovers and associated treatments. Unfortunately, much of that granularity has now been removed and so ads tend to be delivered to a wider audience which in turn leads to enquiries being less specific.

We can still build target audiences using various techniques; however, due to privacy concerns and constraints imposed by the ad platforms, this whole area is now less useful than it used to be a few years ago.

With Google, a similar watering-down of targeting has happened, however it is still easier to target audiences there than on social media. With Facebook and Instagram, we are at the mercy of their algorithms more than ever before.

Which platform to choose for your dental ads?

Now we know the basic characteristics of the types of enquiries we might expect from ads on different platforms, we can start to choose where to place our ad budget.

However, there is another very important factor to consider – cost. If it was simply the case that the “cost per lead” from Google was the same as from Facebook and Instagram, given the better quality leads, you’d very likely go the Google route every time.

However, the leads from Google are in general, significantly more costly than those generated from the social platforms, often by a factor of ten or more. So herein lies the conundrum – do you pay a lot more for higher quality leads, or much less for leads where you need to sort the wheat from the chaff?

Our current recommendation

Many of our clients advertise across Google, Facebook and Instagram as it is possible to get good returns from all of them. However you do need a good budget to enable this, so what do you choose if your budget is more restricted?

When taking into account cost per lead and how many bona fide enquiries those leads actually produced, our data shows that Facebook and Instagram ads are currently more cost-effective than Google Ads and hence this is what you should try first. Whilst dental ad costs are increasing across the board, competition for keywords such as “Invisalign” and “Implants” on Google has continued to rise significantly and often prohibitively.

However, you should expect to have to do quite a lot more work sorting through social media leads than those generated from Google. This must be done diligently and methodically – unfortunately we’ve seen several practices simply give up because they were unable or unwilling to allocate suitable resources to the task.

How do you minimise the number of “time wasting” enquiries?

Hopefully we’ve illustrated why a significant proportion of enquiries from social ads will be speculative, even where the best techniques are used to minimise this. However, there are still some things you can do to optimise as much as possible:

  • Use the targeting facilities provided by the platform. Whilst that targeting has been somewhat diluted recently, there are still some options available
  • Build custom audiences to help Facebook and Instagram understand where your ads should be placed
  • Maintain continuity if you can – whilst campaigns should be regularly refreshed to keep them appealing, continually stopping and starting altogether will be detrimental. Remember that the Facebook algorithm needs to learn and it will become more effective as time progresses and data builds
  • Use an expert to manage your campaigns. Increasing competition and changes to platform configuration means that advertising requires an increasing level of skill and expertise.
  • Follow-up! Don’t just expect a single call to do the trick, you need to keep trying until you can reasonably class the lead as useful or not. Also consider the use of a CRM system to automate some of the follow-ups for you. Remember that many people won’t take the plunge until they’ve seen your ad and follow-up material several times. The more effort you put in, the more success you’ll have.


The overall quality of enquiries from dental ads will vary quite considerably dependent on the platforms on which they are deployed. Those enquiries from social ads will typically be “lower” quality than those from Google Ads – however it’s not just the quality of the ads which needs to be considered.

When considering the ad landscape holistically and taking into account the number of leads and cost-per-lead, social media ads still win out at the moment – however, you will need to allocate suitable resources to sort the wheat from the chaff; please don’t under estimate that.

If you are considering starting your own dental ad campaigns and need impartial advice, please call the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 or complete the website contact form.