Paid versus Organic Content – Facebook for Dentists

Paid versus Organic Content – Facebook for Dentists

What’s the difference and why do you need to know?

Marketers for dentists sometimes take for granted that their clients know all of the basics when it comes to promoting dental practices. Of course this isn’t always the case and we have to be sure that the key elements and principles are explained in detail so that informed decisions can be made.

This was brought home again to me earlier this week when I was explaining the differences between paid and organic social media to a dentist who was interested in the topic and getting moving with a social marketing initiative for his own practice. What quickly became clear was that he had very little knowledge of how Facebook works and indeed why he needed to “pay to play” to gain any real exposure on the channel.

With that in mind, I think it’s worth a quick recap on the types of social media marketing you can use for dental practice promotion, in this case primarily looking at Facebook and Instagram.

For clarity, I will used the terms “paid” and “organic” in this blog to indicate the two main ways of gaining exposure on Facebook (and Instagram). Paid is exactly as it sounds and primarily refers to paying for ads which are displayed on the channel, whereas as I will use the ‘organic’ term to illustrate how you can publish content free of charge.

Organic content published to Facebook and Instagram

This is where you simply open a free account on the respective platforms and publish content without having to pay additional charges. However, whilst your content if free for everyone to view and there to provide an opportunity for them to interact with your business, there is no guarantee that anyone will actually see it! “Build it and they will come” definitely doesn’t apply here unfortunately.

Several years ago businesses strived earnestly to gain “likes” for their Facebook business pages as this gave a reasonable guarantee that most people who “liked” your page would then see your future content in their own feeds. This was excellent to get your messages across and great for promotional purposes. This gave rise to phrases such as “like, share and comment” as dental businesses thronged to Facebook and tried to build their profiles. Some were very successful and continue to be so.

However, what happened next was rather dismal but also quite predictable as Facebook curtailed the “organic reach” of the free content and over a few years, severely restricted the number of people who saw it, whether they’d liked your page or not! This curtailment has reached the point where only a few percent of people who like your page, now see your content. Facebook did this to force users to pay for ads on their platform, so now it’s effectively “pay to play”.

So is it worthwhile still posting content to Facebook and Instagram? The answer is an unequivocal “yes”. This is because more and more users are checking across to business social media profiles to build a picture before they interact with that business – if they see vibrant activity it is hugely encouraging, whereas if they see a barren wasteland, expect them to have second thoughts.

Paid content – the role of social media ads

So we’ve seen how the profile of free content posted to social media has evolved and how Facebook has forced business into the paid ads channel to achieve the broad reach which they need. These days you simply have to budget for paid ads on Facebook and Instagram if you wish to maximise those channels for new patient acquisition.

So what are “paid ads” and how do you get started? If you have any experience with Google Ads, there are some similarities, but also marked differences. What both platforms have in common is that you can’t dabble at it; do this and you will likely waste quite a lot of money with limited returns. There are numerous variables which need to be configured and parameters which need to be adjusted depending on how you wish to target your ads; for example demographics, locations etc. These have to be configured optimally and maintained if you are to succeed with paid ads for dental businesses.

Once you are set up with a suite of suitable ads and landing pages, your ads will then appear in the feeds of your target audience on the respective platforms. From there, if your ads are sufficiently attractive, users will click through to your landing pages and hopefully contact you from there.

Done well, social media ads are extremely effective and whilst the fees to advertise can be quite large, the returns can be very significant indeed. We have numerous campaigns we look after on client’s behalf which typically return 6 and 7 fold the investment cost, often much more.


In this blog I’ve tried to illustrate the key difference between organic content posted to social media and paid ads on those channels. Whilst dentists still need to maintain active business pages (free content) and still seek likes and shares, to really reach a broad audience you will need to deploy paid ads too.

Dental Media are experts with paid ads for dentists and we’ll be pleased to answer your questions and get you started. We’re also on hand to manage your campaigns ongoing to ensure that you get the best from them. Need more advice? Please call our team on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to assist.