Digital Dental Marketing for New Patient Acquisition
Digital Dental Marketing for New Patient Acquisition
Demystifying social media marketing, local seo, and paid search advertising for your dental practice.
Chris Barnard

Facebook News Feed Update: What It Means for Dentists

Facebook News Feed Update: What It Means for Dentists

3/5/2018 1:37:43 PM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 118

Facebook’s News Feed Is Changing…Again


What does this recent News Feed update mean for dentists on Facebook?

Same shit, different day.

Really, and not really, depending on the quality & relevance of your Facebook content at present.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has announced changes to its News Feed, and it probably won’t be the the last.

But there’s no need for dentists on Facebook to panic.  Adapt yes, panic no.

In the past 30 days since the announcement by Facebook of its News Feed updates, we’ve noticed little change in member dental practice page engagement metrics – likes, reactions, comments, & shares.

More on that later.

Let’s first explore what changes to the Facebook News Feed dentists can expect to notice, why Facebook is doing it, and what you can do about it in order to continue using Facebook to achieve referral, review, retention & reactivation goals.

Dentists on Facebook News Feed Updates


What Exactly Is Facebook Doing With Its News Feed? 


The Facebook News Feed is where you view content from your family and friends, as well as businesses you’ve liked, and it’s becoming more difficult for any business page story to gain exposure in your News Feed.

Essentially it breaks down like this, Facebook used to rank business page content in their followers’ News Feed based on what they called reactions – likes, comments, emojis.

With this new update announced January 11th, Facebook is now ranking page content based on engagement – comments, shares, direct messages.

Facebook is looking for quality, not quantity. Passive experiences are being replaced by active experiences.

So, for dentists on Facebook looking to gain higher visibility in the News Feed of your followers, you will need to produce content that generates meaningful interactions between your business page followers…who are comprised mostly of your existing patients.

More on how to do that later, first let’s get our heads around what Facebook is saying.

According to Zuck himself on this January 11th post,

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”


“We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”


“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

So in summary, we as Facebook users will begin to see more content from friends & family, and less content from brands & publishers.

According to their related Jan 11th blog post:

“Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed.”


“With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”


“We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.”

Let’s get this straight, Facebook isn’t removing brand content from business pages from the News Feed – as they have tested in the past, when all public business page content was moved to the ‘Explore‘ tab – they’re just saying they’re removing shitty brand content from business pages from the News Feed.

“Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” 

And let’s face it, not every post we see from friends & family is compelling or high-quality.


What Will Result from the New Facebook News Feed?


As we’ve outlined, our Facebook News Feeds will be showing more posts from friends and family, in addition to showing less content from publishers and business pages – your dental practice Facebook page.

As Facebook rolls out these updates, dentists may see their Page reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.

We haven’t seen that yet across member pages, but again, more on that organic Facebook content later.

Despite that warning, this isn’t a time for dentists to panic or ditch Facebook, it’s a time to take stock, audit, and adjust your social media gameplan.

The impact from these updates will hit hard the dentists who don’t get any organic engagement anyway.

So, consequently – maybe paradoxically too – very little will change there even though they should be the pages most impacted by the News Feed updates.

Pages that publish content which does not elicit a reaction, share or comment..or meaningful conversation between followers of their page…could see the biggest decreases in reach and visibility.

But, they didn’t get the reach or visibility anyway because their posts didn’t generate engagement in the past….so you can see how very little is going to change for those social media averse dentists.

Same shit different day for them.

Dental practice pages that publish shitty content to a bunch of fake profiles in Malaysia that they paid for back in 2012 in order to get more “Likes” on their page will notice very little change.

They’ve got bigger problems.

Publishing highly-engaging content that sparks conversation between followers of your page will result in expanded reach, higher engagement, and higher overall visibility in the News Feeds of your followers.


5 Key Takeaways for Dentists Concerned About Facebook News Feed Updates:


We purposely waited a month to publish this post since first learning of the Facebook press release back on January 11th.

We’ve seen the sky is falling this or that is dead proclamations before, and wanted to see what the real-world data was saying after the next 28 day reporting period on Facebook Insights.

From our research, most industry experts agree that these five things will occur as a result of Facebook’s recent News Feed updates.

  1. Organic reach for Business Pages will drop.
  3. Facebook Ads for dentists are necessary.   
  5. Quality content will rise to the top.   
  7. Facebook Groups will become more important.   
  9. Facebook Live video is highly encouraged.

I’m with the last 4 out of 5, but I still believe in organic reach on Facebook.

Here’s why you should too.


Is Organic Reach on Facebook Still Attainable?


Now to the organic conversation, and how little we’ve seen change across member dental Facebook pages since the News Feed updates.

Organic reach on Facebook is defined as how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.

Since about 2012, it’s been widely talked about that the average Facebook business page post reaches only about 16% of it’s audience. Some estimate as low as 2% of their page followers were seeing Page posts in their News Feeds.

That percentage has only gotten smaller in the past several years. And let’s face it, Facebook is a publicly traded company that needs to show growth to it’s shareholders every quarter.

Given that, and the advertising platform Facebook is, it seems that organic should have died or is most assuredly dead now, right?

So why would dentists still bother with organic Facebook content?

Because it’s still effective at generating engagement. And you’re not paying Facebook for that engagement.

What if the page post that an existing patient shared with a friend on Facebook converted to a new family of four joining your dental practice?

What if a post generated a few reviews, would you consider that effective?

Organic reach on Facebook has been dying for a while now, but it’s not dead yet.


Dentists On Facebook See Widely Varied Organic Reach 


On average, over the past 28 days we see our member pages generated a widely varied organic reach.

On the least engaging page post we saw a low of one member post only reaching 1.5% of their follower base (rounding down to nearest tenth).

That page is over 7 years old with 212 followers. No need for me to prove 1.5% engagement with a screenshot is there?

On the most engaging page post we saw a high of another member post reaching 92% of their follower base (rounding down to nearest tenth).


Facebook Organic Reach for Dentists


This page is a little over 3 months old with 114 followers.

That’s a pretty big difference, and a pretty good reason to keep for any dentist to consistently post organic content to their Facebook page.

That’s just one reason why it’s same shit different day for dentists on Facebook with all this News Feed update news, but that doesn’t mean you should keep doing the same thing either.

It doesn’t mean that we’re going to keep doing the same thing on behalf of our social media member dentists either, but we certainly will keep up the organic content…in particular the video content.


Dentists Get Organic Reach on Facebook with Video


In addition to all the organic content creation & posting, we’ll also be running Facebook Ads too.

We’ve always recommended it, the cost per acquisition compared to the lifetime value of a new patient is just too favorable.

We’ll continue to strongly recommend additional budget being allocated toward Facebook Ads to achieve direct new patient acquisition, review & referral generation, and existing patient retention goals.


3 Ways Dentists Capitalize On Facebook News Feed Updates


For those savvy dentists on Facebook looking to take advantage of opportunity when others succumb to what they perceive as the “death of organic reach on Facebook,” you’ll need to do three things – well.


1. Dentists Need To Publish High-Quality Content on Facebook


If you’ve been embracing video, LIVE video, and creating high-quality, visually engaging content that generates comments, reactions & shares, you have little to worry about.

Keep posting high-quality content that generates engagement – likes (reactions), comments, & shares – on a consistent basis. A couple few times a week at minimum, every day is optimal.

Posting content that generates interactions among your fans & followers is a positive signal. Facebook will reward business pages whose content generations conversation among it’s followers.

Dentists need to create content that your patients (page followers) want to share, and talk about.

Put yourself in your audience shoes, ask yourself:   

  • Will our patients read this?   
  • Will they share with their friends?   
  • Are we producing content important to our patients? 
  • Would you share it with your friends & family?

That’s what Facebook will reward with the newly updated News Feed, high-quality content that generated conversation between your patients.


2. Dentists Need To Publish Relevant Content on Facebook


We all love puppy videos, gut-wrenching stuntmen, and Grumpy Cat, but you’re going to see that content on your personal news feed anyway…and so is your Facebook audience (your patients) on theirs.

High quality relevant content for dentists looking to generate more engagement on their posts, and in turn more visibility in their audience’s news feed, could look like this:   

Make every post count, listen to the conversation going on around your dental practice and develop content that’s part of that conversation and that’s an authentic voice within that conversation.

Does it take time to craft high-quality, relevant, authentic content? Absolutely.

Can you do it yourself? Yes, 100%.


3. Dentists On Facebook Need To Be Authentic


When it comes to social media for dentists, the fake it ’til you make it approach won’t get you anywhere.

The importance of authenticity is really a deeper, underlying law of all social media, whether you’re a dentist, a lawyer, or a multinational corporation.

Engage with your audience, social media has never been a one-way conversation.

Your Facebook page audience mostly consists of your patients, or at least it should. And your patients know authenticity when they see it, and they can smell BS a mile away.

So how can dentists be more authentic on Facebook?   

  • Verify your Facebook Page.   
  • Listen.   
  • And respond to comments, thank people (and other business pages in the local area you’ve already connected to…) for sharing & commenting on your content.   
  • Don’t be generic; be specific to your local level.   
  • Create content around what’s relevant to your local area.

What’s more authentic than a Live video?

Live videos were specifically mentioned on their recent press release, proclaiming that Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook, and Live videos get 6x as many interactions as regular videos on average.

Facebook is specifically encouraging Live videos, that should be enough.

Here are some ideas to incorporate Facebook Live video into your dental practice page:   

  • Show off that custom mouthguard & athlete, and don’t forget to mention & tag the local HS.   
  • Post a Live video while attending a local community event, or hosting a workshop/seminar…etc.   
  • Compile & share a series of before & after case studies – with patient’s permission & participation.   
  • Do an office tour combined with a scavenger hunt when willing patients are in the office.

What Can Dentists Do To Take Advantage of These Facebook News Feed Updates?


There’s no need to panic, but there is a need for dentists on Facebook to adapt their content strategy & tactics to capitalize on these updates.

It’s my belief that these Facebook News Feed changes will actually benefit dentists in the long run, content will improve and the engagement with it will increase.

Facebook wants to be a publisher, not an aggregator.

This is why they don’t just throw everything out on the News Feed and let people choose what they want to interact with, they want to show you what they think is most valuable to you.

Instead of panic and inaction, here are seven things dentists can do to prosper from the recent Facebook News Feed updates:   

  1. Continue organic posts.   
  3. Use internal signage & visual tools to take the conversation happening inside your office, onto Facebook.   
  5. Publish more high-quality local-centric, relevant, beneficial content, and then promote the shit out of it with Facebook Ads.   
  7. Use Facebook Ads for direct new patient acquisition, retention, reactivation, referral generation, & reviews.   
  9. Start a Facebook Group for your practice – invite patients, vendors, referral partners, local businesses…etc.   
  11. Use more video & Facebook Live video in particular.   
  13. Instruct patients to choose the “See First in News Feed Preferences” to make sure they always see posts from their favorite dentist’s Facebook Page.

Moving forward into the 2018, dentists who are concerned about Facebook the News Feed updates need to authentically publish relevant, high-quality content, consistently – and promote some of it with Facebook Ads.

To keep Facebook performing as the referral, review, retention & reactivation channel that it should be, dentists will need to adapt their gameplan to ensure that high-quality, relevant, authentic content is consistently produced…and promoted.

Are You A Dentist In Need of Some Facebook Help?


Social Media for Dentists by Social Dental Network

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