We all know that Facebook is an important part of the Internet Marketing pie, but the question we need to address is how important? As I’ve written before, Facebook is a great resource for spreading the word about your office, but it must be understood that Facebook is an adjunct to your total web presence. I see many practitioners spending small fortunes on Facebook sites without really calculating the return on their investment (ROI), and don’t think that this is the correct approach.
On your personal Facebook account, how many of your own physicians do you have under your page “likes”. Many providers get frustrated that it’s difficult to build “likes” -- and you are correct that it is a challenge. But the important thing to remember is that it’s the quality of the people who like your page, and not the quantity. Think about it – if you could send out a mailer to 100 people who need a dentist in your area vs. a random group of 1000 people, who you have no information about, which would you choose? The idea with Facebook is the same as with a practice newsletter – it’s more important to disseminate information to people who actually are interested in hearing what you have to say, as opposed to being able to brag about how many “likes” you have on your page.
If you already have a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan in place and have truly optimized your site, then the next step should be setting up a Facebook page as one of your additional marketing tools. And while there’s no harm in starting a Facebook page for your practice early, on, I don’t advise investing a ton of time into the page until you have a functioning, quality website in place first. Ideally you would first setup a website with a blog, and each time you write a blog post on your website, you then post a link to the blog article on your Facebook page. In this manner your blog post gets the most possible exposure.
There’s nothing wrong with having a firm develop a custom Facebook page for you that looks like your website, but I’m not sure that it’s a great use of your marketing dollars (even if your website does well with SEO) to do so. There is currently no expectation that a practice (or any company) have a Facebook page with bells and whistles. In fact, one of the most difficult things about Facebook already is that the interface often changes, and these changes are sometimes difficult for users to adapt to. The last thing you want to do is make the user’s experience that much more difficult. Along those lines, I find it adequate to use your logo prominently on your Facebook page and keep it simple. If people want to learn more about you and your office, it’s exposure to your articles and recommendations from friends that will drive them to your site.
The value of a Facebook page for your dental or medical practice should not be overlooked, yet the amount of time and resources you dedicate to the page must be evaluated in the perspective of your entire online and off-line marketing plan. Make sure you have a Facebook presence, but use is as an additional source of information for people, and not the primary one – that’s why you have a website.