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How to use Facebook to successfully market your dental practice


Facebook can be a valuable marketing tool­ for dental practices-if you know how to make the best of it. .

In our column last month, we discussed the importance and impact of using videos in your online marketing. We reviewed options for hosting videos, which types of videos are effective for dental marketing and how to extract the most marketing value from your videos. This month we will discuss recent developments and trends on Facebook.

It should be no surprise that the largest social media site on the planet continues to change and innovate at a rapid pace. It has been very interesting to monitor recent developments, and understand their impact for dental practice marketing.

The Facebook newsfeed algorithm: How to get seen

Last year Facebook announced they would be making a change to the newsfeed algorithm so that they could better deliver relevant content to their users. They started to track what a user was engaging with (likes and comments) and then gave higher relevance to similar stories being in someone's newsfeed. What this means is if someone has liked or commented on a post from your practice, they would be more likely to see your posts again in the future. Facebook is essentially trying to understand your interests and match those topics with what would be shown to you in the future. This is similar to internet radio stations like Pandora that learn what you like and attempt to give you more of what you like over time.

Recently Facebook announced another change to take this concept a step further. Now they are going to track how long you interact with an article or piece of content after leaving Facebook. By monitoring engagement time, it gives them additional insight into what a particular user likes to read and see in their newsfeed.

This data is currently being collected on Facebook’s new Instant Articles as well as articles that open in the Facebook application on mobile devices.

What does this mean for your practice?

Relevant and engaging content is more important than ever! If a Facebook user clicks on your content and immediately bounces right back to Facebook without taking much time to read the content, then this could negatively impact your visibility in the future. On the other hand, if a user goes to your page and takes the time to read the entire article, then you're likely to rank higher in the newsfeed.

The interesting thing to note is that although this information is valuable to track user engagement and relevant content, it's also part of Facebook’s push to get publishers using their new tool "Instant Articles," which means more content is being published behind Facebook's wall and less on other sites. Essentially they are trying to keep people within the walls of Facebook and not link to external websites, thereby leaving Facebook during that browsing session.

For now, it's important for your practice to take note of the changes and be sure that your blogs and other social media posts are engaging and targeted specifically to your audience.

New search feature: Is Facebook trying to be like Google?

Recently Facebook started testing a new service called "Local Search." Local Search allows a visitor to search for businesses near them and see results on a map with detailed information about the business displayed on the search results page.

Facebook hasn't done much to announce this new service yet and in fact has said they don't plan to use this site as an entry point for traffic. Think of it more as a value add to the user already on Facebook. However, some industry experts speculate that this is a direct attempt to siphon search traffic away from Google and other search engines.

Although the service isn't ready for rollout just yet, there are some interesting things to keep in mind.

1) With Facebook thinking along the lines of search, now is a good time to update your practice’s business page on Facebook with the most complete contact information (phone, address, website, photos, videos, etc.). If Facebook search does materialize, you’ll want to be ahead of the curve by having your page ready.

2) Facebook reviews might carry more weight in the future. Currently, Facebook reviews don't have much impact on your search results within the site. However, it remains to be seen whether or not this will change in the future. If Facebook rolls this out similar to Google and Yelp, then reviews will carry a lot of weight in the ranking of search results within their site. When you consider that most consumers place as much value on online reviews as they do with word of mouth it seems likely that reviews on Facebook will become more important in the future.

No one knows for sure whether or not this new service will make it past the testing phase but the implications of the testing of this service means changes might be on the horizon for Facebook.

Stay tuned for future topics that will include social media trends, SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, PPC (pay-per-click) best practices, online reputation management and more.

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